posted on Wed 23 Mar 2016 4:09 PM
Somalia: Adoption of Resolution Extending UN Assistance Mission

Tomorrow (24 March), the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) until 30 March 2017. It seems negotiations went smoothly, with few contentious issues. Council members held one meeting on 17 March, followed by email exchanges on members’ proposals. The text was put in blue yesterday evening.

The proposed resolution, which was drafted by the UK, extends UNSOM’s mandate without any modifications. It emphasises the importance of UNSOM providing support for the completion of the state formation and constitutional review processes, as well as for preparation of the electoral process. It also calls on UNSOM to continue to strengthen its relationship with the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and to expand its presence in all capitals of the Somali interim regional administrations. The Secretary-General is requested to conduct a review of the UN presence after the completion of the 2016 electoral process “to ensure that the UN is properly configured to support the next phase of state-building in Somalia”, and to present options to the Council by 30 January 2017.
There were questions about whether the review would include the possible transition of UNSOM to a peacekeeping operation, but it seems the preference was not to go into specifics at this stage.

In addressing key challenges in Somalia, the draft text stresses the need to avoid any further delays in the political processes underway. Among other things, the draft calls on all regional leaders to fully cooperate with the Somali government in implementing the electoral process (a reference to the fact that Puntland has not yet accepted the electoral model announced by the government on 27 January), while stressing the importance of ensuring that the national independent electoral commission and the boundaries and federation committee become operational without further delay.

Furthermore, the draft underlines the need to advance the constitutional review process without further delay, and to support the peaceful and inclusive completion of the state formation process. It also reiterates the Council’s expectation that there should be no extension of the electoral process timelines for either the executive or legislative branches, and calls on all relevant actors to engage constructively and to adhere to the political road map for the elections in 2020.

In other key provisions, the draft resolution underlines the importance of security sector reform to strengthen the capacity of the Somali National Army and full implementation of the so-called Guulwade plan aimed at enabling the army’s effective participation in joint operations with AMISOM. Following a proposal from one member state, the draft in blue includes a reference to the importance of completing the National Threat Assessment and endorsing the National Security Policy by May 2016.

Additionally, the draft encourages the Somali government to fully implement the human rights roadmap action plan and establish a human rights commission, expresses concern about the ongoing humanitarian crisis, calls on all parties to respect international humanitarian law, and reaffirms the important role of women and youth in the prevention and resolution of conflict.

Among the few somewhat contentious issues during the negotiations was a proposal from one Council member to add a reference in the text to the issue of piracy and illegal fishing off the coast of Somalia. The proposed amendment was opposed by most Council members and did not make it into the final draft, but new language was added on the importance of strengthening the capacity of maritime police.

The adoption tomorrow comes at a time of not only widespread concern about the lack of progress on the political front, but also growing alarm about the continuing serious threat posed by the Islamist rebel group Al Shabaab, as demonstrated by a series of recent deadly attacks for which it has claimed responsibility, and AMISOM’s inability to launch new offensive operations to counter the threat. Going forward, the security situation is therefore likely to be a key focus for the Council as it prepares for the renewal of AMISOM’s authorisation in May. At the 28 February summit in Djibouti of heads of state and government of the mission’s troop and police contributing countries (TCCs), it was agreed to direct the AU Commission “with other relevant stakeholders” to undertake a comprehensive review of AMISOM’s mandate and concept of operations.

The TCCs also reiterated their request for more funding and support from the UN and others. Among Council members and in the Secretariat, however, there seems to be widespread frustration about the lack of progress on the part of the TCCs in taking the steps requested by the Council in resolution 2232 of 28 July 2015, in particular in solving longstanding command and control problems and providing key enablers such as helicopters. It seems the UN has encouraged the AU to submit a report on AMISOM ahead of the expected re-authorisation in May, but it remains to be seen whether this will happen. According to resolution 2093 of 6 March 2013, the AU is expected to report to the Secretary-General every 90 days on the implementation of AMISOM’s mandate, but its reporting has apparently been inconsistent.

In a separate development, the 751/1907 Somalia/Eritrea Sanctions Committee on 14 March adopted the implementation assistance note on the arms embargo requested by the Council in resolution 2244 of 23 October 2015 and referred to by the chair of the Committee, Ambassador Rafael Dario Ramĺrez Carreño (Venezuela), in his 18 February Council briefing (S/PV.7626). Entitled “Summary of arms embargo restrictions in place for Somalia and Eritrea, including exemptions”, the note provides an overview of the scope of the arms embargo and exemption requests. Looking ahead, the mid-term report of the Monitoring Group assisting the Committee is due in April.