Update Report

Update Report No. 1: Somalia


Expected Council Action
On 21 October a public meeting of the Council is scheduled on Somalia. Uganda (which holds the presidency this month) has taken the initiative to call for the meeting. The Secretary-General and AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamamra are expected to speak at the public meeting. A private meeting will follow.

A mini-summit on Somalia was convened in New York on 23 September in the margins of the General Assembly high-level segment, and African member states now want the Council to focus on support for the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Recent calls by Ugandan President Museveni and by the subregional organisation, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), for an increase in the mission’s size of up to 12,000 troops, as well as proposals to raise the level of its funding support from the UN budget, are clearly linked to this initiative. Lamamra is expected to present a formally approved AU position with detailed requests to the Council for support. At press time, it was unclear whether there would be any outcome from the Security Council meeting.

The specific meeting on Somalia is closely linked to a proposed Council thematic discussion of the same issue the next day, on 22 October. The Secretary-General has reported on the general issue of UN assistance to the AU to improve effectiveness in deploying and managing peacekeeping operations. (For background on this thematic meeting, please refer to our October 2010 Monthly Forecast.).

Key Recent Developments
The Council last discussed Somalia on 16 September when the Secretary-General’s new Special Representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, gave his first briefing to the Council and presented the Secretary-General’s most recent regular Somalia report issued on 9 September.

Among the report’s key points were:

In terms of observations, the Secretary-General called on Somali leaders to resolve their political disputes and on the international community to strengthen military and financial support to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and said the support package for AMISOM should be “identical to the support provided to UN peacekeeping operations”. He expressed concern that the objectives for the transitional period remained largely unfulfilled with less than 12 months left. He also expressed support for a proposal to document the most serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Somalia “as an essential step in the fight against impunity” and for the creation of justice and reconciliation mechanisms.

In his briefing to the Council, Mahiga emphasised the need for unity and cohesion among Somali leaders to address the insurgency and advance the peace process and, noting that only 11 months remained until the end of the transitional period, called on both the Somali government and the international community to strengthen their efforts. In regards to AMISOM Mahiga said the AU Peace and Security Council was considering a proposal to the Council requesting authorisation of increased troop levels.

The Council meeting was followed by a series of other high-level meetings on Somalia. On 23 September, a mini-summit on Somalia was convened in New York with high-level representation from the region and the wider international community. Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed gave a briefing on recent developments in Somalia while the chairperson of the AU, Jean Ping, provided an update on the operations of AMISOM. The mini-summit issued a communiqué which:

The mini-summit was preceded by a ministerial-level IGAD meeting in New York on 22 September which called on the Security Council to formally approve a troop level of 20,000 for AMISOM and “make funds available to sustain the elevated level for AMISOM”. It also called on the Council to implement all resolutions relating to Somalia and Eritrea, in particular resolution 1907 imposing sanctions on Eritrea.

On 28 September, the International Contact Group on Somalia met in Madrid under the chairmanship of Mahiga. The Contact Group issued a communiqué which echoed some of the messages to the TFG of the mini-summit held in New York. It also called for a strengthening of coordination relating to the security sector, immediate institution building and increased focus on humanitarian issues and protection of civilians. It also welcomed current efforts to address the piracy problem, stressing in particular the need to address its root causes.

Earlier in the month, on 21 September, political divisions in the TFG had led to the resignation of the Somali prime minister, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke. Sharmarke had been under pressure to resign following President Sharif’s attempt to dismiss him last May. Divisions between the two leaders worsened in recent weeks over the new draft constitution which Sharif reportedly opposes. On 14 October, the president announced the appointment of Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed as the new prime minister. Abdullahi is a Somali-American with a master’s degree in political science who worked in the Somali embassy in Washington D.C in the 1980’s.

Following the prime minister’s resignation, Ahlu Sunna wal Jamma, the pro-government Islamist group that controls parts of central Somalia and signed a power-sharing agreement with the TFG on 15 March, announced on 23 September that it would withdraw from the government, claiming that the TFG had failed to fulfill its part of the agreement.

On 9 September, five militants blew themselves up in an attack against the airport in Mogadishu for which Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility. It was unclear how many others were killed. On 20 September a suicide bomber blew himself up at the gates of the presidential palace in Mogadishu, wounding two government soldiers.

On 30 September, Interpol’s secretary general, Ronald K. Noble, warned that Somalia and other African countries could soon pose more of a terrorist threat than Afghanistan, noting that Somali insurgents had received training there as well as in Pakistan. At the same time there were reports that Al-Shabaab were losing ground to AMISOM and TFG forces and that its leadership was increasingly divided. In particular, there were apparently differences of view on whether to allow international aid groups to work in areas controlled by Al-Shabaab and on the role of foreign jihadists.

Humanitarian access continued to be of grave concern. On 15 September Al-Shabaab announced that it had banned another three aid agencies from Mogadishu. (This followed its 9 August ban on three Christian aid organisations.) On 8 October, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that over 1 million people were affected by Al-Shabaab’s expulsion of international aid organisations.

On 8 October the AU announced that it had appointed Jerry John Rawlings, a former president of Ghana, as its High Representative for Somalia. (It followed the AU decision in July to create such a position to mobilise greater support for Somalia.)

Human Rights-Related Developments
The UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kyung-wha Kang visited Somaliland and Puntland from 13 to 15 September. She condemned the “culture of impunity” in Somalia and said that “addressing the continuing cycle of impunity and violence should be a cornerstone in the foundation for building peace in Somalia.”

On 29 September the Human Rights Council held a stand-alone interactive dialogue on assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights, followed by an interactive dialogue with the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Shamsul Bari. Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in opening remarks that the international community must respond “with a firmer determination to protect civilians” and stressed in particular the need to bring to justice those responsible for violations against civilians. Shamsul Bari noted that one area requiring immediate attention was the civilian casualties allegedly caused by TFG and AMISOM forces when retaliating against insurgents. At the same session, the National Union of Somali Journalists called on the Human Rights Council to take appropriate actions to end the hostility towards independent media and to ensure that those who violate the rights of journalists were held accountable and punished in line with Security Council resolution 1738.

Key Issues
At this stage a key issue for the Council is how to respond to the calls for more reliable funding for AMISOM. This includes whether to increase funding for the mission from UN assessed contributions or continue to rely on voluntary contributions through the UN trust fund or on a bilateral basis.

A second key issue is increasing the authorised AMISOM troop level as requested by IGAD and the AU.

Another key issue is the continuing divisive behaviour of Somali leaders and the resulting lack of effectiveness and failure to deliver basic services to the population. A related issue is the consequent lack of progress on reconciliation and how to steer the TFG into more outreach to moderate elements among the insurgents.

A key humanitarian issue is the lack of focus on protection of civilians, including the difficult access situation for those delivering aid to the civilian population. A related issue (raised by Mahiga) is doing more to support measures to fight against impunity in Somalia.

A key underlying issue is the fact that the transitional period as defined by the Transitional Federal Charter of Somalia expires in August 2011. But the transitional goals remain largely unfulfilled. A key failure is the delay in drafting the constitution which according to the Charter should be adopted by popular referendum during the final year of the transitional period.

Possible options for the Council in October include:

In terms of options for a substantive outcome in terms of support for AMISOM, a possible compromise could include an arrangement which approved funding certain defined operation costs from the peacebuilding support account but which addressed the command and control concerns by characterising the operation as a “reverse hybrid”, i.e. one in which the UN could play a similar kind of role in terms of AMISOM as the AU is able to play in terms of UNAMID in Darfur.

Council Dynamics
For Uganda the issue of strengthening international support for AMISOM is clearly a high priority as it is the largest troop contributor to the mission and has felt the sharp edge of the Somalia conflict very directly as a result of the bombings in Kampala on 11 July. Uganda sees funding constraints as the main reason why it has been so difficult for the mission to reach its authorised troop level and believes that AMISOM troops should receive the same kind of support as UN peacekeepers. Uganda is supported by African countries who also argue that there is a mismatch between the large sums currently being spent by Western countries on the anti-piracy naval operations off the coast of Somalia and the relative lack of support from these same countries to AMISOM.

Raising the AMISOM troop level beyond 8,000 is also a priority for Uganda as is evident from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s recent statement that his country would be ready to contribute enough personnel for a deployment of 20,000 troops.

In September, the Secretariat shared ideas on support to AMISOM and outlined some possible options for increasing funding for the mission from assessed contributions, including by adding to the support package for AMISOM services normally considered part of troop contributing countries’ self-sustainment and reimbursement of non-lethal contingent owned equipment. Troop allowances are currently being funded bilaterally by the EU. It is unclear what level of support the AU is seeking.

There seems to be significant reservations by some Council members about increasing the scope of AMISOM’s funding from assessed contributions. The UK and France (already uncomfortable with their high level of contributions to UN peacekeeping) argue that the UN should not fund missions over which it has little control. Japan is concerned about increasing the financial burden it carries. Austria seems to have some sympathy for the African argument that AMISOM should at least receive the same level of support as UN peacekeeping missions but is concerned about the allegations against AMISOM relating to violations of international humanitarian law and would like to see some positive response on this issue as part of any arrangement. (This is also a problem when it comes to bilateral support.)

Mexico, Brazil and Turkey seem open to consider an increase in assessed funding of AMISOM on its merits.

Increasing the authorised troop level for AMISOM appears to be less controversial. Most members seem open to raising the troop level, but want to see more detailed plans from the AU on how additional troops would be deployed. (It is possible that the AU will propose as a first step to raise AMISOM’s troop levels to 14,000 to secure Mogadishu and that a second step would be deployment of an additional 6,000 troops outside of the capital.)

Uganda seems keen on having an outcome from the 21 October meeting in the form of a presidential statement. Some other members are not yet convinced the Council can add much at this stage. At press time is was therefore unclear whether there would be an outcome. It seems likely, however, that Uganda will push for a decision on outstanding issues related to AMISOM before it leaves the Council at the end of this year.

The UK is the lead country on Somalia in the Council.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1918 (27 April 2010) requested a report from the Secretary-General within three months on options to ensure prosecution and imprisonment of persons responsible for piracy off the coast of Somalia.
  • S/RES/1916 (19 March 2010) extended the mandate of the Somalia/Eritrea Monitoring Group and requested the Secretary-General to re-establish it for a period of 12 months with the addition of three experts.
  • S/RES/1910 (28 January 2010) renewed authorisation of AMISOM until 31 January 2011 and requested the Secretary-General to report on all aspects of the resolution every four months starting from 1 January.
  • S/RES/1907 (23 December 2009) imposed an arms embargo and targeted sanctions against Eritrea.
  • S/RES/1844 (20 November 2008) imposed targeted sanctions relating to the situation in Somalia.
  • S/RES/1738 (23 December 2006) condemned intentional attacks against journalists, media professionals and associated personnel.

Selected Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2010/16 (25 August 2010) welcomed the Secretary-General’s 26 July report on piracy, encouraged the International Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia to continue discussions on possible further steps to ensure that those responsible for acts of piracy be held accountable and requested the Secretary-General to include in his next report on Somali piracy observations on possible ways to enhance international cooperation.

Latest Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2010/447 (9 September 2010) was the latest regular report on Somalia.
  • S/2010/394 (26 July 2010) provided options for addressing Somali piracy.
  • S/2010/327 (22 June 2010) was on Eritrea’s compliance with resolution 1907.

Selected Meeting Records

  • S/PV.6386 (16 September 2010) was the most recent briefing by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia.
  • S/PV.6374 (25 August 2010) was a debate on Somali piracy.
  • S/PV.6362 (20 July 2010) was the briefing on Eritrea’s compliance with resolution 1907 by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.

Selected Letters

  • S/2010/372 (12 July 2010) was from the chair of the Sanctions Committee transmitting to the Council the report of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia on the implementation of paragraphs 4 and 5 of resolution 1916 and on impediments to the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Somalia.
  • S/2010/361 (7 July 2010) was from Ethiopia conveying the 5 July IGAD communiqué calling for an increase in the number of troops in Somalia.

Selected Council Press Statement

  • SC/10019 (31 August 2010) condemned the attack against the presidential palace in Mogadishu on 30 August.


  • A/HRC/15/48 (16 September 2010) was a report of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Shamsul Bari.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Augustine Mahiga (Tanzania)

Chairman of the Somalia Sanctions Committee

Claude Heller (Mexico)


  • Maximum authorised strength: 8,000 troops plus maritime and air components
  • Strength as of October 2010: about 6,300 Ugandan and Burundian troops
  • Duration: February 2007 to present: AU mandate expires on 17 January 2011 and Council authorisation expires on 31 January 2011

Additional Useful Source
Somalia Dilemmas—Changing security dynamics, but limited policy choices, Institute for Security Studies, October 2010