Expected Council Action
In June, the Security Council will hold a briefing, followed by consultations, to discuss the situation in Somalia. The new Special Representative for Somalia and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), Catriona Laing (UK), is expected to brief. Appointed on 3 May, Laing succeeds James Swan, who served as Special Representative and head of UNSOM from May 2019 to October 2022. The Council is also expected to extend the authorisation of AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) late in the month.
Key Recent Developments
The Somali government remains focused on intensifying its fight against Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group affiliated with Al-Qaeda. Its operations have dislodged the group from key strongholds in central Somalia’s Galmudug and HirShabelle regions, thereby opening main supply routes and population centres. Reportedly, preparations are underway to launch a second phase of offensive operations against Al-Shabaab in Jubaland and South West regions. Nevertheless, the group retains the ability to carry out asymmetrical attacks against both civilians and civilian infrastructure, as well as state institutions.
Pursuant to resolution 2670 of 21 December 2022, the Security Council requested the Somali government to provide a report on the implementation of the Somalia Transition Plan (STP) and National Security Architecture (NSA), which have been developed to facilitate the gradual handover of security responsibilities from ATMIS to the Somali security forces. The Somali government submitted its report on 30 April which, among other things, detailed its force generation and integration efforts. Currently, 3,000 Somali troops, who were trained in Eritrea and repatriated to Somalia, are undergoing the process of reintegration, and the repatriation process of an additional 4,000 troops trained in Eritrea has already started, according to the report. Furthermore, 3,000 Somali troops trained in Uganda are expected to return to Somalia, while 1,500 troops in Egypt and 2,500 troops in Ethiopia are being trained with the support of the UAE.
ATMIS marked its one-year anniversary on 1 April. The AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) convened a meeting on 28 April to reflect on the progress and challenges of the mission one year after it replaced the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Pursuant to resolution 2628 of 31 March 2022, which reconfigured the mission, the AU submitted its report on 12 April to the Security Council on the implementation of the ATMIS mandate. The mission is expected to complete the drawdown of 2,000 personnel by 30 June as part of the phased and gradual handover of security responsibilities to the Somali security forces. (Subsequent drawdowns of the mission, which currently consists of over 18,500 troops, are planned for September 2023 and June 2024; the mission is expected to exit in December 2024). On 27 April, ATMIS troop-contributing countries (TCCs) held a summit in Entebbe, Uganda, under the chairmanship of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. According to the summit’s communiqué, the leaders agreed on the procedures for the drawdown of the 2,000 personnel.
One of the main challenges facing ATMIS is a funding shortfall, and the summit mandated the presidents of Djibouti and Kenya to engage with partners on this issue on behalf of the ATMIS TCCs. At its 36th summit held on 18-19 February in Addis Ababa, the AU approved the disbursement of $2 million from the AU Peace Fund’s Crisis Reserve Facility to support ATMIS. The AUPSC has called on the Security Council to hold “a special session on predictable, adequate, sustainable and multi-year funding for ATMIS”.
On 27 March, the Security Council held a private meeting on the situation in Somalia that included a discussion of the funding issue. Special Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson for Somalia and head of ATMIS Mohamed El-Amine Souef and EU Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Annette Weber briefed. Participating in the meeting were Somalia and ATMIS TCCs—Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. This was preceded by a joint AU and UN high-level meeting in New York on 22 March on securing predictable and sustainable funding for ATMIS. At that meeting, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security Bankole Adeoye appealed to bilateral and international partners to fill the funding shortfall facing the mission. Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo, who also attended the high-level meeting, noted ATMIS’ dire financial situation and stressed the urgent need to ensure “predictable, sustainable, and multi-year funding” for the mission.
The Security Council, pursuant to resolution 2670, requested the UN to undertake a technical assessment of progress in the implementation of the benchmarks set out in the Secretary-General’s letter of 30 September 2022 on the UNSOM independent review. The Secretary-General submitted the technical assessment report on 25 April, which was done jointly with the Somali government, the AU, the EU, and other partners and describes the progress achieved toward the 14 identified benchmarks and 51 indicators contained in the independent review.
According to OCHA, drought persists despite seasonal rains in Somalia and the Ethiopian highlands, which caused flash floods. Secretary-General António Guterres visited Somalia in April as part of his annual visit to Muslim countries during the month of Ramadan. He used the opportunity to appeal to the international community to enhance humanitarian support to six million people who are in urgent need of assistance. He also visited camps for internally displaced persons in Baidoa, the capital of the South West State. On 24 May, the UN, Italy, Qatar, the UK, and the US, in collaboration with Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, were convening a high-level pledging conference for the humanitarian response in the Horn of Africa in New York.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 23 February, Isha Dyfan, the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, issued a statement expressing alarm at the high number of civilian casualties resulting from clashes between Somaliland security forces and clan members in Las Anod in the Sool region. In her statement, Dyfan noted reports of indiscriminate attacks against civilians and emphasised that they directly contravene international human rights law and humanitarian law. She warned that the ongoing clashes in Las Anod will directly contribute to an already worsening humanitarian situation in the wider Sool region. The fighting, which began on 5 February, has displaced more than 185,000 people, 89 percent of whom are women and children.
Dyfan’s statement echoed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk’s 7 February statement calling on the Somali government to “ensure an independent, effective and impartial investigation” once the clashes began in Las Anod. Noting that these killings came only a month after more than 20,000 people were already displaced by clashes, Türk expressed his concern that the situation would cause a deterioration in the “already fragile humanitarian situation”.
Women, Peace and Security
As the Council’s president for February, Malta chose to focus the 22 February open briefing on the situation in Somalia on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). Ahead of the meeting, Malta circulated a concept note encouraging Council members to address various aspects of the WPS agenda in their interventions during the meeting. Several members—including Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, and Ghana, which delivered a statement on behalf of the three African members of the Council (A3)—referenced the situation of women in Somalia in their statements. Switzerland focused its full statement on WPS stressing, among other issues, the importance of safeguarding women’s participation in political processes, as both candidates and as elected representatives. Malta expressed deep disappointment that the “conditions were not conducive to the safe participation of a civil society representative” at the meeting to brief the Council on WPS. Stressing that “the voice of civil society needs to be heard”, Malta said that it had circulated the statement that would have been delivered by a representative of the Somali Gender Equity Movement.
Prior to the meeting, the Council members which have signed on to the Shared Commitments on WPS—Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Japan, Malta, Switzerland, the UAE, and the UK—delivered a WPS-focused statement to the press. Among other issues, the statement called for “sexual and gender-based violence prevention and responses to be mainstreamed into Somalia’s drought response and famine prevention plan, and for women’s participation in the elaboration of this plan”.
On 17 February, the 751 Al-Shabaab Sanctions Committee held informal consultations with the Panel of Experts on developments in Somalia, the panel’s ongoing investigations, and its areas of focus this year.
On 27 February, the Chair of the 751 Al-Shabaab Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Kimihiro Ishikane (Japan), provided the 120-day briefing to the Security Council. During the meeting, Somalia reiterated its request for the full lifting of the arms embargo imposed on the country. Ishikane is expected to provide his next briefing to the Security Council in June.
Key Issues and Options
The key issue for Council members in June will be the reauthorisation of the ATMIS mandate, which was extended until 30 June pursuant to resolution 2670. The Somali government’s report on the implementation of the STP and NSA, the AU’s report on the implementation of the ATMIS mandate, and the technical assessment jointly done by the UN, the AU, the EU, the Somali government, and other partners are likely to inform the upcoming negotiation.
The mandate renewal process is also likely to be dictated by the operational timelines of the next drawdown of ATMIS personnel. At the Kampala summit, the leaders underlined the need for a joint assessment of the next drawdown of 3,000 personnel, which is expected to occur by 30 September. The Somali government’s efforts in force generation and integration are considered to be critical in light of the impending drawdown of ATMIS personnel.
The other important issue is the ongoing offensive operations against Al-Shabaab. Council members recognise the progress achieved in these operations, but stabilising the recently liberated areas and providing basic services to the people remains an ongoing challenge.
A possible option for Council members during the upcoming mandate renewal negotiation is to consider how the UN can assist in these stabilisation and peacebuilding efforts.
Council members support the Somali government’s offensive operations against Al-Shabaab, but they may want to see more progress in the implementation of the STP and NSA to ensure the gradual handover of security responsibilities from ATMIS to Somali security forces.
The funding shortfall facing ATMIS continues to be raised by the three African members (Gabon, Ghana, and Mozambique). The EU has been a major financial contributor, but it seems that there are expectations for other bilateral and international partners to share the burden, as observed during the AU-UN joint high-level meeting in March. Recently, China, India, and the Republic of Korea have provided some funding to ATMIS.
Regarding the security situation, Council members have been concerned about the situation in Las Anod, a disputed area between Puntland and Somaliland. At the time of writing, Council members were negotiating a draft presidential statement proposed by the UK, the penholder on Somalia on this issue. It seems that there is some disagreement on the draft text, including the format.
UN DOCUMENTS ON SOMALIA
|Security Council Resolutions|
|21 December 2022S/RES/2670||This resolution extended the deadline for the first phase of the drawdown of ATMIS personnel until 30 June 2023.|
|31 October 2022S/RES/2657||This extended the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) until 31 October 2023|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|22 February 2023S/PV.9267||This meeting record was on the situation in Somalia.|