Expected Council Action
In October, the Security Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), which is set to expire on 31 October. The Chair of the 751 Somalia Sanctions Committee Fergal Mythen (Ireland) is also expected to brief the Council.
The 751 Somalia sanctions regime expires on 15 November, and the mandate of the Panel of Experts supporting the 751 Somalia Sanctions Committee expires on 15 December.
Key Recent Developments
On 7 September, the Council received a briefing from Special Representative for Somalia and head of UNSOM James Swan, who explained the priorities laid out by the new government following the conclusion of the protracted Somali electoral process in May and expressed the UN’s commitment to support these priorities. He also noted that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released $350 million to Somalia in June and that other donors have also resumed budgetary support to the country. As part of his visit to Washington, DC in September, President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud reportedly met with the managing director of the IMF and the president of the World Bank Group to mobilise support from the international financial institutions for his government’s reform efforts as well as the humanitarian response to the drought in Somalia.
Swan recognised the encouraging steps taken by Mahmoud to improve relations between the federal government and the federal member states. On 11-12 September, Mahmoud reportedly convened the National Consultative Council with the participation of federal member state leaders to discuss efforts aimed at addressing the security and humanitarian situations in the country and enhancing cooperation between the federal government and federal member states on the implementation of national priorities. However, there have also been some setbacks recently, such as the decision by federal member states to suspend cooperation with the federal ministry of finance in relation to disputes over allocation of financial resources. This move apparently followed the World Bank’s release in July of a $100 million grant to Somalia in support of the reform efforts. The federal member states have also raised issues regarding the delay in the disbursement of a $9.6 million donation by the United Arab Emirates to assist relief efforts. Furthermore, in a 15 September press release, Puntland State opposed the implementation of the Somalia Petroleum Act 2020, which it said had been approved by the parliament without consultation with the federal member states.
The persistent threat posed by the armed group Al-Shabaab continues to be a major preoccupation for Somalia and the international community. In his 7 September Council briefing, Swan noted the importance the new government places on the fight against Al-Shabaab. According to an 11 September government press release, Somali security forces have retaken control of several towns and villages in Galmudug, Hirshabelle and South West States from Al-Shabaab, with the support of the local population. On 20 September, Somali security forces reportedly captured a strategic village in Hiiraan, Hirshabelle State, which is said to have been under Al-Shabaab control for the last 13 years. During his visit to Washington, Mahmoud met with senior US government officials, including the secretaries of state and defence, to garner support for these latest counter-terrorism operations by Somali security forces. In a 21 September press release, the US Africa Command said it had conducted airstrikes against Al-Shabaab on 18 September near Buulobarde, in the Hiiraan region, upon the request of the Somali federal government.
Resolution 2628 of 31 March requested the UN to submit a proposal for benchmarks and indicators by the end of September to measure the effectiveness of the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) and the implementation of the Somali Transition Plan and National Security Architecture. This proposal is to be prepared in consultation with the Somali government, the AU, the EU and other donors. Swan reported to the Security Council that work on the benchmarks and indicators is advancing. He expressed concern, however, over funding constraints for ATMIS salary stipends and for the Somali Security Forces Trust Fund. He appealed for urgent contributions from donors to address this challenge.
Pursuant to resolution 2632 of 26 May, which requested the Secretary-General to undertake a strategic review of UNSOM, a team under the leadership of Ian Martin, former Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), visited Somalia and Ethiopia between 1 and 9 August to conduct consultations with the Somali federal government, regional states, UN agencies, the AU, ATMIS, women and youth civil society representatives, and international partners. The team’s report was also expected by the end of September and is likely to inform UNSOM’s mandate renewal process in October.
Somalia is facing its worst drought in four decades. The drought has affected 7.8 million people–nearly half of the Somali population—and led to the displacement of more than one million. In his 7 September briefing to the Council, Swan described the efforts by humanitarian actors to provide assistance to 5.3 million Somalis despite challenges to humanitarian access. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths visited the country for five days in early September to assess the situation on the ground and meet with federal and regional authorities, affected communities, and partners. In his 15 September Council briefing on conflict and food insecurity, Griffiths said that “if we want Somalia to survive the famines that will come, late this year and into next year, we need attention from the climate community—from Member States who have pledged money, all of which has not reached its destination”.
The Panel of Experts assisting the 751 Somalia Sanctions Committee is expected to submit its final report by 15 October. Pursuant to resolution 2607 of 15 November 2021, the Secretary-General has already submitted a technical assessment of Somalia’s weapons and ammunition management capability. The assessment is likely to inform the upcoming negotiation on the extension of the 751 Somalia sanctions regime in November.
Human Rights-Related Developments
During its 51st session, the Human Rights Council is expected to hold an interactive dialogue on 5 October on the report of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Isha Dyfan (A/HRC/51/65). The report, covering 1 July 2021 to 30 June, provided an update on progress achieved to date by Somali authorities on seven key benchmarks, including protection of civilians, rule of law, freedom of expression and assembly, and women’s and children’s rights. “Unfortunately, delayed elections left no room for progress on these issues”, the report concluded.
Key Issues and Options
The key issue for Council members in October is how to support the newly elected government of Somalia in implementing its national priorities. In this regard, Council members may draw on the outcome of the UNSOM strategic review due by the end of September. A possible option is for Council members to extend UNSOM’s mandate for one year and request the mission to align its support to the government’s priorities.
Furthermore, Council members could be keen to look at the benchmarks and indicators for the effectiveness of ATMIS and the implementation of the Somali Transition Plan and National Security Architecture. The penholder, the UK, could consider convening an informal meeting of Council members to discuss the outcome of the strategic review and the benchmark exercise ahead of negotiations on UNSOM’s mandate renewal.
Council members support the government’s priorities and look forward to the upcoming UNSOM mandate renewal in October. They also recognise the many challenges facing the country, including the persistent insecurity caused by the terrorist activities of Al-Shabaab, and support ongoing efforts to fight this group. However, some members believe that a security approach will not be sufficient, and underscore the need to make progress in governance, justice and economic reforms. Other Council members emphasise the need for progress in implementing the Somali Transition Plan, including national force generation, and look forward to clear and realistic benchmarks and indicators requested by resolution 2628. African members and China have raised the funding challenge facing ATMIS and called for adequate, sustainable and predictable financing for the mission.
UN DOCUMENTS ON SOMALIA
|Security Council Resolution|
|26 May 2022S/RES/2632||This resolution extended the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) until 31 October 2022.|
|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 Meeting Record|
|7 September 2022S/PV.9125||This was a briefing on the situation in Somalia.|