Expected Council Action
In November, the Security Council is expected to renew the 751 Al-Shabaab sanctions regime set to expire on 15 November, and the mandate of the Panel of Experts supporting the 751 Al-Shabaab Sanctions Committee, which expires on 15 December.
Key Recent Developments
On 26 and 27 August, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud convened the seventh meeting of the National Consultative Council (NCC)—which brings together the leaders of the federal government and the federal member states—to advance the Somali government’s priorities. In a communiqué adopted following the meeting, the NCC decided to unify their military operations against Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group affiliated with Al-Qaida, under joint leadership and to accelerate preparations for the second phase of the offensive against Al-Shabaab in Jubaland, Hirshabelle, and South West states. It also directed the Somali government and federal member state agencies to harmonise stabilisation activities and accelerate reconciliation efforts.
In a 19 September letter addressed to the President of the Security Council, the Somali government requested a three-month technical pause in the drawdown of 3,000 AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) personnel, as set out in resolution 2687 of 27 June, which most recently renewed ATMIS’ authorisation. The letter said that, following the 26 August attack by Al-Shabaab in the Galguduud region, Somali forces suffered significant setbacks, and retreated from several towns that they had recently taken. It added that such incidents have exposed Somali forces’ vulnerabilities on the frontlines and have necessitated a thorough reorganisation to sustain the momentum in countering threats from Al-Shabaab. (For more, see our October Monthly Forecast.)
In a 30 September communiqué, the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) supported the Somali government’s request regarding the three-month technical pause in the drawdown of the 3,000 ATMIS personnel. It also took note of financial shortfalls that could impede the operationalisation of such a pause. The communiqué directed the AU Commission (the organisation’s secretariat) to consider several options to mobilise resources for the extension, including engaging with the Somali government to mobilise its internal resources, as well as with bilateral and multilateral partners and the private sector for voluntary contributions. At the time of writing, Council members are negotiating a draft resolution authorising the Somali government’s request for the three-month pause in the drawdown.
At the 17th annual joint consultative meeting of the AUPSC and the Security Council, held on 6 October, members of both Councils discussed Somalia and the activities of ATMIS. In a joint communiqué adopted following the meeting, the two Councils underlined the importance of consolidating the peace and security gains in Somalia and ensuring that the ATMIS drawdown is carried out in a manner that minimises the potential for exploitation by Al-Shabaab. The communiqué further encouraged the Somali government to consider “multidimensional approaches” for addressing the structural root causes and drivers of instability in the country. In addition, the two Councils requested the Somali government to provide regular updates on the progress in implementing its National Security Architecture and force generation and integration in line with the Somalia Transition Plan.
The humanitarian situation in Somalia remains an issue of concern. The Secretary-General’s 13 October report on the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) indicated that humanitarian needs in Somalia remain high due to persistent climatic and environmental shocks, conflict, population displacement, widespread poverty, disease outbreaks, and other compounding factors. According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) projections, around 4.3 million people are expected to experience high levels of acute food insecurity between October and December. A 9 October OCHA press release noted that at least 1.2 million people are likely to be affected by projected heavy rains and flooding through December. In this regard, the UN’s Somalia Humanitarian Fund has allocated $15 million for flood response, targeting high-risk areas in Hirshabelle and Jubaland states.
On 6 October, the Informal Expert Group of Members of the Security Council on Climate and Security—which is currently chaired jointly by Mozambique, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—met to discuss the situation in Somalia with a particular focus on improving the flow of information and analysis with respect to the peace and security implications of climate change.
On 19 October, the Council held an open briefing, followed by closed consultations, on the situation in Somalia. Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia and head of UNSOM Catriona Laing and Special Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson (SRCC) for Somalia and head of ATMIS Mohamed El-Amine Souef briefed. In her remarks, Laing said that political debate in the country continues to be dominated by proposals related to the presidential system, the two-party system, the use of one-person-one-vote throughout the country, dates for local council elections, and the alignment of federal member states’ terms of office, as set out in the 27 May NCC communiqué. She also expressed concern over Puntland’s absence from the NCC meetings since January. In this regard, she urged the Puntland state government and the Somali government to pursue dialogue to enable the constitutional process to move ahead. She further noted that the UN continues to assess the ATMIS drawdown and its possible implications, including on its operations and ability to carry out its mandate. In his remarks, Souef called for the lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia. He added that Somali security forces should be provided with “necessary firepower to take over security responsibilities while also undertaking offensive [operations] against Al-Shabaab”.
The 751 Al-Shabaab Sanctions Committee held informal consultations on 29 September to receive a briefing from the Panel of Experts on its final report, dated 2 October. The final report noted that Al-Shabaab remains the most immediate threat to the peace, security and stability of Somalia and that its ability to carry out complex, asymmetrical attacks in Somalia remains undiminished. The report further noted that the prolonged fighting in Las Anod, a disputed area between Puntland and the self-proclaimed region of Somaliland, is having a destabilising impact on the security and stability of Somalia and may provide opportunities for Al-Shabaab and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)-Somalia to take advantage of the situation.
On 28 September, the 751 Al-Shabaab sanctions committee held informal consultations, during which it received a briefing from OCHA on its recent report providing an update on the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Somalia. In the same session, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) briefed the committee on its work related to resolution 2662, which renewed the 751 Al-Shabaab sanctions regime for one year.
In resolution 2662, the Council requested the Secretary-General to provide an update on progress against each indicator set out in the benchmarks contained in his 15 September 2022 technical assessment report on Somalia’s weapons and ammunition management capacity. The progress report, which was released on 15 September, said that there have been notable achievements in weapons marking and registration. It noted that acute challenges remain, however, including in extending weapons and ammunition management to the federal member states level. It added that countering the illicit flow of arms and ammunition into Somalia also remains a critical issue.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 12 October, during its 54th session, the Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a resolution titled “Assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights”, without a vote. The resolution renewed the mandate of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia for a period of one year, to assess, monitor and report on the situation of human rights in Somalia with a view to “making recommendations on technical assistance and capacity-building in the field of human rights”.
Key Issues and Options
The key issue for Council members in November is the extension of the 751 Al-Shabaab sanctions regime and the mandate renewal of the Panel of Experts. Members may draw on the findings of the 15 September progress report and the recommendations contained in the panel’s final report.
A likely option for the Council is to extend the sanctions regime and the mandate of the Panel of Experts by one year. In doing so, they may consider how they can support ongoing efforts to fight Al-Shabaab by tightening the sanctions measures to disrupt its financing. They are also likely to review the exemption provisions, as resolution 2662 confirmed that the Council would keep all required notification processes and exemptions under review. In this regard, in the upcoming renewal of the sanctions regime, the penholder (the UK) may propose the lifting of the notification requirements under the 751 Al-Shabaab sanctions regime regarding the delivery of items intended for the development of Somali security institutions.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Somalia has long called for lifting the arms embargo, and the government most recently reiterated this position during the 19 October Council meeting on Somalia. The African members (Gabon, Ghana, and Mozambique), China, Russia, and the UAE also voiced their support for Somalia’s position.
In light of the ongoing military operations against Al-Shabaab, some Council members could call for tightening the sanctions measures against the group.
Last year, the Council extended the 751 Al-Shabaab sanctions regime through resolution 2662, which received 12 affirmative votes and four abstentions—China, Gabon, Ghana, and Russia.
UN DOCUMENTS ON SOMALIA
|Security Council Resolutions|
|17 November 2022S/RES/2662||This was the resolution which renewed the 751 Al-Shabaab sanctions regime until 15 November 2023.|
|13 October 2023S/2023/758||This was the Secretary-General’s report on UNSOM, covering developments from 8 June to 5 October.|