Expected Council Action
In June, the Chair of the 751 Somalia Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason (Ireland) will deliver her 120-day periodic briefing to the Council on the activities of the committee.
Council members last renewed the Somalia sanctions measures for one year on 12 November 2020, through the adoption of resolution 2551. The same resolution also extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts on Somalia until 15 December. Committee members received the panel’s interim report in May and will convene to discuss the report’s findings and recommendations on 4 June. This mid-term update is confidential, whereas the panel’s final reports are published. The upcoming final report will be published after its submission to the Council by 15 October.
Key Recent Developments
The Council last heard the periodic briefing by the committee chair on 25 February. In this first briefing after the adoption of resolution 2551 and for the first time in her capacity as chair, Byrne Nason informed the Council about the activities of the committee between 29 October 2020 and 25 February. During the reporting period, the committee received two thematic reports from the panel and two letters from member states: one about arms embargo exemption issues and another pertaining to the panel’s report submitted under a previous mandate. Byrne Nason also reported on the number of arms embargo exemption requests, notifications and post-delivery notifications the committee had received. She noted that the Somali federal government had submitted its biannual report to the Council on the structure, composition, strength and disposition of its security forces and the status of regional and militia forces. She also recalled that the committee had last met on 29 January to discuss the panel’s programme of work for the coming year. During that meeting, the panel informed committee members of improvements in building a positive relationship with the Somali federal government and its ongoing engagement in projects in Mogadishu and across Somalia’s federal member states. Commending the work of the panel, several committee members expressed support for the panel’s work with regard to disrupting financing sources for Al-Shabaab.
Accordingly, the most recent final report of the panel published on 28 September 2020 emphasised investigations into Al-Shabaab’s taxation models and revenue sources. It attested to the strong financial position of Al-Shabaab, a finding likely to be repeated in the mid-term report. The panel, together with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, is supporting the federal government in developing a plan aimed at disrupting current financing models of Al-Shabaab. The report also noted that the security threat posed by Al-Shabaab went beyond conventional military tactics and included extortion measures, child recruitment and effective use of propaganda. On the security side, military operations appeared to have resulted in territorial losses for the group, although Al-Shabaab reportedly has maintained its ability to produce improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and conduct attacks.
Council members last considered the situation in Somalia during open and closed consultations on 25 May. From 22 to 27 May, the Somali federal government and its member states held a consultative meeting to resolve outstanding disagreements over the conduct of legislative and presidential elections. Agreement was reached on all outstanding issues, and the participants committed to hold elections within 60 days. At the time of writing, Security Council members were negotiating a draft press statement to welcome the agreement and encourage all political stakeholders to maintain the positive momentum.
Key Issues and Options
Key issues for the Council include how to disrupt Al-Shabaab’s financing and how to continue to sustain efforts to counter illicit charcoal trade, following the finding of the Panel of Experts that, although the exports have stopped, networks involved in the trade are still intact.
Council members are likely to include the contents of the chair’s briefing and of the panel’s reporting in their deliberations on the effectiveness of the sanctions regime. The recommendations in the mid-term report will be addressed at the committee level, including apprising the Council of any recommendations that may require its attention.
Divisions on the Council regarding the Somalia sanctions regime became apparent during its latest renewal. Resolution 2551 received 13 votes in favour with two abstentions (China and Russia). During its explanation of vote, China noted, as a reason for abstaining, the lack of benchmarks for an eventual lifting of sanctions, which it deems necessary to facilitate the enhancement of the Somali government’s security structures. China also disapproved the inclusion of language on the bilateral relations between Djibouti and Eritrea, noting that improving their relations was not a concern of the Security Council. Russia echoed China’s views on Djibouti and Eritrea, adding that the relations between the two member states was not an issue for international peace and security. Human rights language included in the resolution also drew criticism from Russia, which expressed dismay over the practice of using Council resolutions to promote the human rights agenda in the Somalia dossier for which it deems the Human Rights Council the appropriate forum. The UK, the penholder on Somalia, expressed the view that following the lifting of sanctions on Eritrea in 2018, the reference to Djibouti and Eritrea ensured that the Council remained seized of any progress in relations between the two countries, as the latest Secretary-General’s report on the matter noted no substantial improvements.
UN DOCUMENTS ON SOMALIA
|Security Council Resolutions|
|12 March 2021S/RES/2568||This resolution reauthorised the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for ten months until 31 December 2021.|
|4 December 2020S/RES/2554||This resolution renewed the authorisation granted to states and regional organisations cooperating with Somali authorities in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|7 June 2018S/PRST/2018/13||This was a presidential statement welcoming the conditions-based transition plan in Somalia for the progressive transfer of security responsibilities to national forces.|
|Sanctions Committee Documents|
|15 October 2020S/2020/1004||This was the report detailing the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Somalia and any impediments present by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, as requested by resolution 2498 in 2019.|
|28 September 2020S/2020/949||This was the final report of the Panel of Experts on Somalia, which continued to illustrate the damaging impact of Al-Shabaab.|
|Security Council Letters|
|30 October 2020S/2020/1079||A copy of the 28 October briefing provided by Ambassador Philippe Kridelka (Belgium) in his capacity as Chair of the 751 Somalia Sanctions Committee.|
|27 May 2021|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|12 November 2020S/PV.8775||This covered the adoption of resolution 2551 (2020), including several explanations after the vote. China and Russia abstained from this resolution renewing elements of the Somalia sanctions regime.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|17 May 2021SC/14503||In this press statement Council members expressed their concern about the disagreement among Somalia’s political leaders on the model for elections and referred to the 17 September 2020 agreement as only basis for the holding of elections which was endorsed by the Federal Government and all its member states.|