Expected Council Action
The Security Council will hold a briefing on the situation in the country, followed by closed consultations. James Swan, the Special Representative for Somalia and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), and Francisco Madeira, head of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), are the likely briefers.
Several reports will form the basis of this meeting. The Secretary-General is expected to submit reports to the Council this month on the situation in Somalia and the implementation of AMISOM’s mandate, and on the situation with respect to piracy and armed robbery at sea off Somalia’s coast. He is also scheduled to submit a report that includes a proposal on the strategic objectives, size and composition of a reconfigured AMISOM, and options for continued UN logistical support from 2022 onwards to UNSOM and the Somali security forces alongside the AU mission.
The Council will also negotiate the renewal of the 751 sanctions regime on Somalia as some of its measures—the partial lifting of the arms embargo and the maritime interdiction of charcoal and weapons or military equipment—expire on 15 November. The same resolution is likely to renew the mandate of the Panel of Experts on Somalia, which expires on 15 December.
Key Recent Developments
Council members met in consultations on Somalia on 16 September to discuss tensions within the Somali government over the handling of the investigation into the disappearance of a National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) officer. Since then, the persisting political impasse may have come to an end. On 22 October, Mohamed Moalimuu, the spokesperson of the federal government, announced that President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmajo” and Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble had held talks that led to an agreement over future NISA appointments. Roble had earlier suspended NISA’s chief Fahad Yasin because of the failure to deliver a satisfactory investigative report on the disappearance of NISA agent Ikran Tahlil Farah in June and appointed Bashir Mohamed Jama as NISA’s interim chief. Farmajo called the move unconstitutional and appointed Yasin as his national security advisor. He also named Yasin Abdullahi Mohamud as head of NISA. On 16 September, Farmajo suspended Roble’s authority to appoint and dismiss government officials. Under the new agreement, Yasin Abdullahi Mohamud will reportedly remain head of NISA in an acting capacity, while Bashir Mohamed Jama will be considered for a ministerial post.
The dispute delayed the presidential election scheduled for 10 October. In a joint statement released on 22 October, the leaders reportedly agreed “to accelerate the election process by calling on the federal member states to start the election of the (lower house of) parliament in the next couple of weeks”. Upper and lower house elections are underway and need to be completed before delegates elect the president through an indirect vote.
Recent months have been marked by tensions between the federal government and the AU on the future of AMISOM post-2021. An AU Peace and Security Council communiqué, adopted on 7 October, endorsed the findings of a 30 May AU independent assessment report on the future of AMISOM that had been requested by the AU Peace and Security Council in February. The 7 October communiqué recommended an AU-UN multidimensional stabilisation mission and mandated the AU Commission to consult with the Somali federal government, the UN and other key stakeholders on the modalities for transitioning to an AU-UN hybrid mission. The communiqué further appealed to the Council to consider a “technical rollover” of AMISOM—whose Council authorisation is set to expire on 31 December—to allow AMISOM to continue its mandate without disruption while the consultations are underway. In a 21 October press release, the federal government criticised the AU decision as not aligned with the Somali Transition Plan—which outlines the gradual transfer of security responsibilities from international to Somali forces by 2023—nor with Somalia’s national security strategy. (Somalia prefers a reconfiguration of AMISOM as the future security set-up. This preference corresponds with the findings of a UN strategic assessment conducted in March, which recommended a reconfigured AMISOM as the future security set-up).
Meanwhile, Somalia continues to face a challenging security situation. The report of the Somalia Sanctions Committee’s Panel of Experts, issued on 5 October and covering investigations conducted since September 2020, stated that the militant group Al-Shabaab remains the primary security threat in Somalia, with control over large areas within the country. The report further said that the implementation of the Transition Plan remains at a standstill while Al-Shabaab continues to generate sufficient revenue to sustain its insurgency for the foreseeable future. The panel also found that exports of charcoal had remained on hold during the reporting period because of effective national and international pressure and comprehensive monitoring and surveillance measures.
Women, Peace and Security
On 28 September, the Security Council convened a briefing on Somalia with a specific focus on women, peace and security. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed briefed on her 12 September visit to Somalia to promote increased women’s participation in political life, including through the implementation of a 30 percent quota for female parliamentarians. Shukria Dini, co-Founder and Executive Director of the Somali Women’s Studies Centre, also briefed the Council. Ireland called the meeting in the context of the “presidency trio” initiative with a focus on women, peace and security during their own (September), Kenya’s (October) and Mexico’s (November) presidencies. The briefing followed the 30 June meeting of the Informal Experts Group (IEG) on Women and Peace and Security on Somalia. Special Representative for Somalia and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) James Swan and Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission (SRCC) for Somalia and head of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Francisco Madeira briefed at the meeting. This was the IEG’s first meeting on Somalia, and Madeira was the first non-UN briefer to address a meeting of the IEG. Among the key issues discussed were the 30 percent quota for female parliamentarians, the targeting of politically active women, and sexual and gender-based violence.
Key Issues and Options
How to ensure the holding of timely and credible elections in Somalia has been a key issue for Council members. They may consider issuing a product that calls for maintaining the political accord between Farmajo and Roble in order to promote political stability and create conditions propitious for the holding of elections.
Improving Somalia’s security situation continues to be a challenge. As the Council’s mandate for AMISOM expires on 31 December and the Secretary-General’s proposal for the mission’s future is forthcoming, Council members will have to start considering the best configuration for a future security arrangement, including its sources of funding.
Regarding the upcoming renewal of resolution 2551 of 12 November 2020, the Council may consider extending the sanctions measures for another year to ensure their continuation through the completion of the elections and the political transition period. This would be in line with some of the recommendations in the Panel of Experts’ final report, which suggests, among other things, that the Council uphold the charcoal ban and maritime interdiction measures.
Council and wider Dynamics
The Council is united in its call for the timely conduct of elections. However, with the proposal on the future of AMISOM imminent, divisions persist regarding funding for the future security configuration in Somalia. EU Council members would like to increase financial burden-sharing. The “A3 plus one” (Kenya, Niger, Tunisia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) seek more predictable and comprehensive funding for any future security set-up in Somalia; in their view, this would be best achieved through UN assessed contributions. An AU-UN hybrid mission would address their funding concerns, and the 7 October AU communiqué instructs the African Council members to advocate for this option.
The sanctions on Somalia have also been divisive in the past. China and Russia abstained during the adoption of resolution 2551. China’s explanation of vote said that the renewal of resolution 2551 should have been used to “update the relevant sanctions measures in the light of the developments on the ground to help Somalia build greater security capacity in the service of the reconstruction process”. Russia regretted the inclusion of human rights language and “the singling out in the text of certain partners for providing assistance to Somalia in the fight against organized crime and illegal trafficking in coastal waters at the expense of other stakeholders in the region”.
On 12 October, Somalia and Council member Kenya received the verdict of the International Court of Justice in a maritime border dispute. The verdict outlined a maritime border, which is close to Somalia’s understanding of its maritime delineations with Kenya. Kenya withdrew from the legal process days before the verdict and rejected the court’s findings.
The UK is the penholder on Somalia, and Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason (Ireland) chairs the 751 Somalia Sanctions Committee.
UN DOCUMENTS ON SOMALIA
|Security Council Resolutions|
|30 August 2021S/RES/2592||This resolution renewed the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) until 31 May 2022.|
|12 March 2021S/RES/2568||This resolution reauthorised the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for ten months until 31 December 2021.|
|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.|
|19 May 2021S/2021/485||This was the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Somalia covering the developments from 10 February to 7 May 2021.|
|Security Council Letters|
|29 September 2021S/2021/858||This was a letter from the Secretary-General to the Security Council president requesting an extension of the deadlines to submit a proposal on a reconfigured AMISOM and options for continued UN logistical support to the AU mission, UNSOM, and the Somali security forces.|
|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.|
|Sanctions Committee Documents|
|5 October 2021S/2021/849||This was the final report of the Panel of Experts on Somalia, attesting that Al-Shabaab remained the most immediate threat to the peace, security and stability of Somalia.|