What's In Blue

Posted Mon 14 Feb 2022

Somalia: Briefing and Consultations

Tomorrow morning (15 February), the Security Council is scheduled to hold an open briefing, followed by closed consultations, on the situation in Somalia. Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) James Swan and Special Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson (SRCC) for Somalia and head of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Francisco Madeira will brief on the latest political, security and humanitarian developments in the country, as well as on the work of UNSOM and AMISOM. An EU representative is also expected to brief.

Tomorrow’s meeting will provide an opportunity for the Council to take stock of two major developments that have occurred since its last meeting on Somalia on 17 November 2021: progress towards finalising Somalia’s electoral process and re-shaping the country’s security support.

Since September 2021, Somalia has elected a significant number of representatives to its lower house, the House of the People. According to media reports, approximately 40 percent of lower house seats had been filled by 9 February. The electoral calendar calls for the finalisation of lower house elections by 25 February. The completion of that process will pave the way for presidential elections. However, allegations of irregularities in the electoral process have been mounting in the past months. During a 4 January meeting of the National Consultative Council, a forum consisting of representatives from the Somali federal government and its member states, participants discussed how to address any irregularities in the electoral process and ensure a credible outcome.

At tomorrow’s meeting, Council members are likely to be united in acknowledging the progress towards finalising the elections, which are now overdue by over 12 months, and may urge Somali authorities to maintain efforts towards the completion of the process. The US may refer to key messages from an 8 February statement by its Department of State on “Promoting Sustainable Peace and Responsive Governance in Somalia”. In that statement, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a restriction on the issuance of visas to current or former Somali officials or other individuals believed to be engaged in undermining the democratic process in the country. The statement urges Somalia’s leaders to “follow through on their commitment to complete the lower house elections in a credible and transparent manner” by 25 February, as stipulated in the electoral calendar.

Council members may also express concern regarding the continued tensions between President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmaajo” and Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble. They might call on the leaders to work on maintaining a productive working relationship while emphasising that this is especially important given the need for Somalia to focus on finalising the electoral process.

During tomorrow’s meeting, Council members are also likely to welcome progress towards shaping a new security presence in Somalia. Following a preliminary agreement reached in December 2021 between Somalia and the AU on a reconfigured AMISOM, representatives of Somalia, the AU Commission and AMISOM held technical-level meetings between 17 and 21 January in Addis Ababa. During those meetings, participants developed an outcome document which outlines the parameters and strategic objectives for a new AU mission in Somalia—which is referenced in the document as “the AU Transitional Mission to Somalia (ATMIS)”—including the gradual hand-over of security responsibilities to Somali forces by the end of 2023 and the option to increase the number of current troop-contributing countries.

Between 28 January and 9 February, Somalia also held several consultations in the “Quartet” format (which is comprised of Somalia, the AU, the EU, and the UN) to discuss the modalities for the new mission, including a concept of operations (CONOPS) and the required logistical support package. These meetings will inform two requests of the Secretary-General made by the Council in resolution 2568 of 12 March 2021: a proposal for a new mission in Somalia and options for continued UN logistical support. The proposal and the options, which were due by September 2021 and October 2021, respectively, were delayed due to continued disagreements between Somalia and the AU on the future AU presence in the country; Somalia argued for a reconfigured AMISOM mission, and the AU preferred an AU-UN hybrid mission financed by UN assessed contributions.

To allow Somalia and the AU to continue talks and reach an agreement, the Council adopted resolution 2614 of 21 December 2021, which reauthorised AMISOM’s mandate without substantive changes until 31 March. At tomorrow’s meeting, several Council members, including the UK (the penholder on Somalia), may call on all stakeholders to expedite efforts to finalise his proposal for the new mission and options for logistical support in order to allow Council members to consider these issues ahead of the negotiation of a new authorisation for the AU mission.

Several speakers are also likely to address the dire humanitarian situation in the country. The Secretary-General’s most recent report on Somalia, dated 8 February, describes the situation in the country as acute, noting that an estimated 7.7 million people will need humanitarian assistance in 2022. This figure includes over 3.2. million people affected by extreme drought, which has displaced some 245,000 people. Several Council members may echo the Secretary-General’s call for substantial and early funding to address Somalia’s urgent humanitarian needs. In 2022, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has thus far reportedly provided three deliveries of food and water aid for Somalis affected by drought. On 6 February, the UK announced an additional $8 million support package for food supplies and water in a press release covering the visit of its Special Envoy for Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Affairs, Nick Dyer.

Several speakers—including the EU briefer, some European Council members and the US (the penholder on Somalia anti-piracy measures)—may raise the issue of piracy along Somalia’s coast. On 3 December 2021, the Council adopted resolution 2608, authorising member states and regional organisations cooperating with Somali authorities to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia. The resolution renewed the anti-piracy measures for only three months (until March) instead of the usual year, following what appeared to be calls from Somalia for the discontinuation of the anti-piracy measures. Several multilateral and bilateral efforts are currently implementing these measures, including the EU’s anti-piracy operation Atalanta. In their explanation of vote following the adoption of resolution 2608, the European members of the Council expressed concern regarding the shorter timeframe of the measures’ reauthorisation, claiming that it may jeopardise planning and efforts regarding current and future maritime security set-ups.

Sign up for What's In Blue emails