What's In Blue

Posted Mon 15 Oct 2012

Somalia Debate

Tomorrow morning (16 October), the Security Council is scheduled to hold a debate on Somalia, with briefings by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative Augustine Mahiga and AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamamra. (Both will address the Council by video-conference.) No immediate outcome from the meeting is envisaged, although the debate will feed into the Council’s negotiations on a resolution expected to be adopted on 30 October extending the authorisation for the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and its UN funded logistical support package.

Tomorrow’s debate will allow Council members to both receive an update on post-transitional issues in Somalia, including current progress and expected timelines in key areas, and express their views on the way ahead. With regard to the political track, Council members are likely to be interested in hearing Mahiga’s assessment of the ongoing process to establish an inclusive, accountable government.

On that front, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (elected on 10 September) nominated Abdi Farah Shirdon Saaid as Prime Minister on 6 October. However, he has yet to be endorsed by Parliament and a new cabinet—which will also need parliamentary endorsement—has yet to be formed. Among the many issues highlighted in resolution 2067, adopted on 18 September, the Council is likely to want to assess progress towards the swift appointment of a representative government, implementation of the postponed elements of the road map for ending the transition, financial transparency, development of a programme to define post-transition priorities, restructuring of Somali security forces, and expansion of the rule of law and public services. It also emphasised the importance of reconciliation, transitional justice, transparency and accountability.

Although it is still early, Council members may also be looking for an update on follow-up from the recent mini-summit on Somalia convened by the Secretary-General on the margins of the General Assembly on 26 September. (The resulting communiqué outlined a set of agreed commitments and longer term priorities for the next phase in Somalia.)

Another key focus of the debate is likely to be the security situation and the future of AMISOM. Lamamra is expected to brief the Council on the AU’s final 60-day report on AMISOM which was recently circulated to Council members. In the report, the AU announced that it intended in the coming months “to undertake a thorough assessment of AMISOM and how best it can contribute to the stabilisation of Somalia, in light of gains made on the ground and the challenges ahead.” The report also requested that, while this assessment was being carried out, the Council authorise a technical roll-over of AMISOM for an additional four months, until February 2013. (AMISOM’s AU mandate expires on 16 January.)

The AU also requested two minor adjustments relating to the authorisation: a revision of the support package to cover the deployment of an additional 50 civilian personnel and the reimbursement of maritime assets. (The inclusion of maritime assets in the logistical support package was discussed when the Council last renewed the AMISOM authorisation in resolution 2036 of 22 February, but at that time the Council did not agree to it.) Council members are likely looking for Lamamra to provide further details on why these revisions are necessary.

Some Council members may also want to address the humanitarian situation in Somalia and specific protection issues. In particular, it is possible that some members, mindful of the Council’s commitment to the protection of journalists as expressed in resolution 1738 (2006), may express concern about the recent increase in violence against journalists in Somalia. (Fifteen journalists have been killed in Somalia this year and another 20 have been wounded.)

Council members were initially scheduled to hold a meeting of the informal expert group on protection of civilians to separately consider protection issues relevant to the upcoming AMISOM resolution. It appears, however, that this meeting has been postponed given that only a technical roll-over resolution is expected at this stage.

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