Expected Council Action
In October, the Security Council will engage on the issue of Somalia sanctions on several occasions. 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. The Council will also receive the report of the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, on the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Somalia and any impediments to aid delivery.
The Somalia sanctions regime will expire on 15 November, and the mandate of all members of the Somalia Sanctions Committee’s Panel of Experts will expire on 15 December.
Key Recent Developments
Byrne Nason’s most recent periodic Council briefing was on 14 June, when she informed members about the committee’s activities since 26 February. Her briefing included the listing of three members of the militant group Al-Shabaab pursuant to paragraph 8 (a) of resolution 1844 of 20 November 2008 for “engaging in or providing support for acts that threaten the peace, security or stability of Somalia, including acts that threaten the Djibouti Agreement of 18 August 2008 or the political process, or threaten the Transitional Federal Institutions or the AU Mission in Somalia by force.” These were the first listings since the committee added two names in March 2018, when the Somalia sanctions regime was still grouped with a regime imposed on Eritrea. Shortly before the 14 June meeting, the committee had considered the panel’s mid-term report, which covered five key issues: the continued threat posed by Al-Shabaab, including the use of improvised explosive devices; violations of international humanitarian law; ongoing investigations into the group’s finances; the management of weapons and ammunition by the federal government; and the ban on the export of charcoal from the country. The mid-term reports of the Somalia sanctions regime are traditionally not made public; the final reports will be made available on the committee’s website.
Recent months also saw changes in the composition of the panel. On 27 April, the coordinator, Natascha Hryckow, who was also the maritime and regional expert, resigned. Since then, arms expert Richard Zabot has been serving as interim coordinator. A new candidate to replace Hryckow was suggested to the committee but placed on hold by China and Russia. In recent months, both Council members have placed holds on several candidates for expert panels and expert groups across other UN sanctions regimes.
The request for the briefing and the report on humanitarian assistance was last renewed in resolution 2551 of 12 November 2020. The recent report highlighted challenges humanitarian workers are facing in the country, including abduction, arrest, harassment, forcible seizure of assets, and restrictions on road movement by the parties to the conflict. It described the threat to humanitarian delivery posed by Al-Shabaab, which “continues to implement hostile policies against most humanitarian organizations, directing local populations to not accept assistance from some humanitarian organizations, further punishing communities that do not oblige and directly targeting the organizations’ personnel or assets, or directing local populations to do so”. The report further recommended the renewal for another year of the humanitarian exemption in the 751 sanctions regime, which provides that its measures “shall not apply to the payment of funds, other financial assets, or economic resources necessary to ensure the timely delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance in Somalia”.
Human Rights-Related Developments
During its 48th session, the Human Rights Council is expected to hold an interactive dialogue on 6 October with the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Isha Dyfan, and consider her report (A/HRC/48/80). The report, covering 1 July 2020 to 30 June, concludes that there has been a recent regression in the protection of women and children’s rights and that inaction on human rights on the part of the government has resulted in increased violations and abuses against civilians, emboldened perpetrators and left victims without redress. The report makes several recommendations, including reviewing cases and releasing journalists, media workers and human rights defenders arbitrarily arrested and unlawfully detained; completing the enactment of long-standing bills and conducting transparent appointments to human rights institutions to protect women and children’s rights; and finalising the constitutional review process.
Women, Peace and Security
On 5 August, the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, and the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, issued a joint press release on the increasing levels of conflict-related sexual violence in Somalia. They reported that some 400 civilians—primarily girls—were subjected to conflict-related sexual violence in Somalia during 2020, marking an increase of almost 80 percent compared to 2019. An equally disturbing number of cases (over 100) were recorded during the first trimester of 2021.
Cases were attributed to clan militia, government security forces and Al-Shabaab, “which continues to use sexual violence and forced marriage as tactics of domination in areas under their de facto control, forcing many families to flee their land”. Patten and Gamba urged the Somali government to “take concrete measures to end and prevent the recurrence of sexual violence against women and children”, including strengthening the legal framework and adopting and implementing action plans on child soldiers and conflict-related sexual violence. The “planning, directing or committing [of] acts involving sexual and gender-based violence” is one of the listing criteria under the Somalia sanctions regime. To date, no listing has been made pursuant to this criterion.
Key Issues and Options
A continuous key issue for the Council in the past years has been the question of how to disrupt Al-Shabaab’s financing and counter the group’s influence. A recent political dispute between President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmajo” and Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble over the disappearance of a cybersecurity expert working for Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency caused concern that Al-Shabaab might exploit or benefit from the political rift. The Council’s 18 September press release on the dispute cautioned that “any political differences [should] not divert from united action against Al‑Shabaab and other militant groups”.
When deliberating the regime’s renewal in November, including its humanitarian carveouts, Council members may consider the current humanitarian situation, which OCHA described in its August report as being “aggravated this year by a double climate disaster of drought in some parts of the country and flooding in others, as well as political tensions, the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating desert locust infestation”, leaving some 5.9 million people in need of assistance.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Somalia participated during Byrne Nason’s last briefing and directed criticism towards Kenya, accusing the Council member of using cluster munitions in air strikes in 2019 and conducting air raids that killed civilians. Kenya rejected the claims as false. Somalia also requested the establishment of “practical and achievable benchmarks” for lifting the sanctions measures. Somalia also advocated for the lifting of sanctions during a 22 July visit to Mogadishu by Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defence Simon Coveney. China shares this position and had argued for the inclusion of benchmarks during the negotiations on the renewal of the sanctions regime in November 2020. China and Russia abstained on the adoption.
UN DOCUMENTS ON SOMALIA
|Security Council Resolutions|
|12 November 2020S/RES/2551||This resolution renewed the partial lifting of the arms embargo on Somali security forces, the authorisation for maritime interdiction to enforce the embargo on illicit arms imports and charcoal exports, and humanitarian exemptions to the regime. The resolution also renewed the mandate of the Somalia Panel of Experts until 15 December 2021.|
|10 August 2021S/2021/723||This was the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Somalia covering the developments from from 8 May to 31 July 2021.|
|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.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|12 November 2020S/PV.8775||This meeting record 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|
|18 September 2021SC/14641||In this press statement, Council members expressed deep concern about the ongoing disagreement within the Somali Government and the negative impact on the electoral timetable and process. They urged all stakeholders to exercise restraint, and underlined the importance of maintaining peace, security and stability in Somalia.|
|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.|