What's In Blue

Somalia Political Briefing and Sanctions Committee Consultations

Tomorrow afternoon (19 July) Security Council members are scheduled to hold consultations, first on the political situation in Somalia, then on the Somalia and Eritrea 751/1907 Sanctions Committee. Special Representative Augustine Mahiga is scheduled to brief on the political developments in Somalia and it seems a press statement on the political situation is likely. Following Mahiga’s briefing, the chair of the Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri (India), will present two separate reports of the Monitoring Group on Eritrea and Somalia and brief on the work of the Committee. (The Monitoring Group is composed of eight experts—some covering Somalia and others Eritrea.)

The Sanctions Committee has met twice in the past week to discuss the reports of the Somalia/Eritrea Monitoring Group and its recommendations. The report of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia has also been circulated, and the Sanctions Committee received a briefing on it from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on 11 July. It appears that that report recommends extending the humanitarian exemption to the sanctions regime. The mandate of the Monitoring Group expires on 29 July, and a renewal of that mandate is currently scheduled for 25 July.

Mahiga, who last briefed the Council on 15 May, is expected to provide an update on progress in Somalia towards ending the transition by the 20 August deadline. Council members will likely be interested in learning more about recent delays in convening the National Constituent Assembly, and how this may impact the end of the transitional process. (The National Constituent Assembly was originally scheduled to convene on 12 July and conclude its work by 20 July. Media reports now suggest the Assembly will not meet until after 20 July.)

An additional area of concern for the Council is likely to be the issue of spoilers. The report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia details rampant corruption within the Transitional Federal Government. The report also contains recommendations regarding the establishment of the Joint Financial Management Board (JFMB), which may also come up for discussion. Additional recommendations regarding piracy and the activities of private security companies in Somalia are also likely to be of interest to Council members.

There appears to be little controversy over the recommendations of the Monitoring Group in its report on Eritrea. That report suggests that sanctions against Eritrea have been successful and should continue. On 17 July, Eritrea’s Permanent Representative, Ambassador Araya Desta, addressed the Sanctions Committee and it is possible that the chair might update the Council on that briefing.

On Somalia, however, there are differences among Council members regarding the scope of the Council’s response to the issues raised by the Monitoring Group’s report. While the report recommends that the Council request the establishment of the JFMB in a resolution, some members feel that this may be unnecessary. Another seemingly controversial recommendation relates to the suggestion that additional bodies be established to investigate Somali piracy and to identify pirate leaders, as well as to regulate private maritime security companies operating in the region. There is some resistance to both proposals among certain Council members. This issue may be raised during a meeting when Somali representatives address the Sanctions Committee at the end of the month.

At press time, it did not appear that the mandate of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group—whose renewal is set for Tuesday next week—would be changed substantially. The new resolution will likely continue the additional measures added in resolution 2023 (2011) designed to prevent Eritrea from using its diaspora tax or mining sector revenues to commit violations of the sanctions regime. The resolution also seems likely to strengthen the charcoal ban added to the mandate by resolution 2036 of 22 February this year.

At press time, the length of the mandate extension for the Monitoring Group remained unclear, although an extension of 13 months—as has been done with several other sanctions committees recently—is possible. This would enable the Monitoring Group to have enough time to complete its work and allow for a smooth continuation of its work if its mandate is renewed this time next year. (The Monitoring Group for Somalia/Eritrea traditionally does not seem to have been as politically sensitive as some other groups of experts: it is composed of nationals from Belgium (2), Canada, France, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia and the US.) The Council is also likely to extend the humanitarian exemption to the Somalia sanctions regime for the same period.

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