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.
Somalia sanctions measures expire on 15 November, and the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the Somalia Sanctions Committee expires on 15 December.
Key Recent Developments
The Council last met to receive a briefing by the Chair of the 751 Somalia Sanctions Committee on 24 February. The late Deputy Permanent Representative of Ireland, Ambassador Jim Kelly, delivered the briefing on the committee’s activities between 21 October 2021 and 24 February. This was the first time the chair had reported to the Council since the adoption of resolution 2607 (15 November 2021) renewing the Somalia sanctions measures.
The Secretary-General appointed the Panel of Experts to the Somalia Sanctions Committee on 16 December 2021. The panel presented its work programme to the committee on 11 February. During that meeting, the coordinator of the panel, Ahmed Himmiche, noted that the panel will focus its work on the structure and financing of the armed terrorist group Al-Shabaab, the smuggling and trafficking of weapons and military equipment into Somalia, weapons and ammunition management within Somalia, the implementation of the charcoal ban, and child recruitment and gender-based violence perpetrated by Al-Shabaab.
Disrupting the activities of Al-Shabaab has been a key focus for the Council. On 18 February, the committee designated Ali Mohamed Rage, the spokesperson for Al-Shabaab, for “engaging in or providing support for acts that threaten the peace, security or stability of Somalia, including acts that threaten the peace and reconciliation process in Somalia, or threaten the Federal Government of Somalia or [the AU Assistance Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)] by force.”
The Secretary-General’s 13 May report, covering the situation in Somalia between 1 February and 6 May, said that 236 security incidents had occurred in the country, most of which were attributed to Al-Shabaab. The report also noted an increase in Al-Shabaab attacks with the acceleration of the electoral process, including a 23 March attack on the Mogadishu International Airport area, where elections for the speakers of Somalia’s upper and lower houses took place several weeks later. (The Mogadishu International Airport area is a fortified location hosting the UN and several diplomatic representations). On 3 May, Al-Shabaab attacked a base of the recently formed AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), the successor mission to AMISOM. Several Burundian peacekeepers lost their lives in the attack. In February, three weeks of sustained hostilities by Al-Shabaab caused over 17,000 persons to flee their homes in Somalia’s South-West State.
On 15 May, Somalia completed its long-delayed electoral process with the election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who served as the country’s leader between 2012 and 2017, as president. In an 18 May media interview, Mohamud—referring to security in the country—said, “We will ask for support and collaboration from anyone who is willing to help us to ensure the security.” Mohamud assumed office on 23 May and is now in the process of constituting a government.
On 16 May, US President Joe Biden approved the deployment of some 500 US troops to Somalia to further support Somalia in degrading Al-Shabaab and eventually take sole responsibility for its safety in accordance with its Transition Plan—the document that foresees the gradual handover of security responsibilities from international to Somali security forces. The previous US administration had decided to withdraw the troops. Somalia’s newly elected president has welcomed the latest decision to redeploy US troops.
On 27 May, the Somalia Sanctions Committee met with Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba. Resolution 2607 requests Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict to share relevant information with the committee. The Secretary-General’s report in that regard notes that from 1 February to 31 March, the UN had verified 372 grave violations against 368 children, 217 of which were attributed to Al-Shabaab.
Key Issues and Options
How to defeat Al-Shabaab and equip the Somali government with the means and capacity to establish and maintain a stable security environment is a key concern for the Council. The text of resolution 2607 focused on “the need to target Al-Shabaab’s finances, improve maritime domain awareness, prevent illicit revenue generation, including from the sale of charcoal, and reduce the threat posed by [improvised explosive devices (IEDs)]”. Effective weapons and ammunition management by the Somali government would be an important step towards building the capacity of Somali security forces to counter Al-Shabaab and for the Council to review the arms embargo. To that end, the Council requested in resolution 2607 that the Secretary-General undertake a technical assessment of Somalia’s weapons and ammunition management capabilities and provide recommendations by 15 September to improve them, including benchmarks that could assist the Council in reviewing the arms embargo. The Council could consider calling for the international community to strictly comply with the sanctions measures and for sustained support in building Somalia’s security capacity.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Although resolution 2607 was adopted with two abstentions (China and Russia), the Council is united in its support for the sanctions measures. Disagreements during the sanctions renewal that led the two members to abstain were related to references in the text to the unresolved border dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea. The relationship between Djibouti and Eritrea has been addressed in Somalia-related sanctions resolutions since the adoption of resolution 1907 of 23 December 2009, which linked Djibouti-Eritrean relations to the peace process in Somalia. Although the Council lifted sanctions on Eritrea and terminated the mandate of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group to establish a Panel of Experts solely focused on Somalia in resolution 2444 of 14 November 2018, several Council members hold the view that the Council should continue monitoring the rapprochement between Eritrea and Djibouti.
The election of Mohamud may also affect regional dynamics. For Council member Kenya, which shares land and sea borders with Somalia, degrading Al-Shabaab has been a priority issue. However, the relationship between the two countries has been strained, including due to an ongoing maritime border dispute. On 16 May, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta congratulated Mohamud and assured him of Kenya’s cooperation.
UN DOCUMENTS ON SOMALIA
|Security Council Resolutions|
|31 March 2022S/RES/2628||This resolution endorsed the decision by the AU Peace and Security Council to reconfigure the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) into the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS). The resolution authorises, for the period of one year, AU member states to deploy uniformed personnel in the country to carry out ATMIS’ mandated tasks.|
|15 November 2021S/RES/2607||This resolution renewed for one year the partial lifting of the arms embargo on Somali security forces; the authorisation for maritime interdiction to enforce the embargo on illicit arms imports, charcoal exports, and IED components; and humanitarian exemptions to the regime. The resolution received 13 votes in favour and two abstentions (China and Russia).|
|13 May 2022S/2022/392||This was the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Somalia covering developments from 1 February to 13 May.|
|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|
|15 November 2021S/PV.8905||This meeting record covered the adoption of resolution 2607, including several explanations after the vote.|
|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.|