Secretary-General’s Briefing on Somalia

Tomorrow morning (Tuesday, 13 December) the Secretary-General is scheduled to brief the Council on Somalia. Council members seem keen to hear about the Secretary-General’s historic 9 December visit to Mogadishu with the President of the UN General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser of Qatar. It was the first ever such joint visit to Somalia and the first visit by a Secretary-General since 1993. The Secretary-General’s regular Somalia report (S/2011/759), circulated last week, is also likely to be part of the briefing. Council members are expected to have consultations following the briefing. A press statement welcoming the Secretary-General’s visit and urging progress on the road map for ending transition in Somalia appears likely.

It seems an important objective of the visit was to create a new sense of urgency among key Somali stakeholders amidst growing concerns that implementation of the road map has stalled. The Secretary-General and Al-Nasser held meetings with the President of Somalia, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali and Speaker of Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh.

The Secretary-General’s briefing is expected to cover some of the issues he raised at his press conference in Mogadishu. Among the points he made were that Somalia was at a critical juncture with regard to the political process, military gains and recovery from famine and poverty and that there was a “very limited window of opportunity”. He also stressed the importance of moving ahead quickly with the implementation of the road map and emphasised that any extension beyond the August 2012 deadline would be “untenable”. Additionally, he announced that the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) would relocate to Mogadishu in January 2012 to strengthen UN support for the road map. The Secretary-General also emphasised the need to consolidate recent military gains, calling for a further strengthening of the AU Mission for Somalia (AMISOM) and welcoming Kenya’s recent decision to contribute troops to the mission. Additionally, he expressed concern about continuing humanitarian challenges.

The Secretary-General’s 9 December report on Somalia provides an update on implementation of the road map, the security situation, including progress towards full deployment of AMISOM and strengthening of Somali security institutions, the humanitarian situation, human rights and protection of civilians, cooperation and resource mobilisation. The report notes that a number of the agreed deadlines on the implementation of the road map had been missed and that, as of 30 November, the mechanisms charged with monitoring the implementation – the Regional Political Initiative and the International Coordination and Monitoring Group – had yet to meet.

The report also notes that anticipated additional troop deployments to AMISOM in December and January (by Djibouti and Burundi, respectively) would bring the mission’s troop strength close to its authorised level of 12,000.

Also likely to be on Council members’ minds is the 2 December communiqué from the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) urging the UN Security Council to “review and consider thoroughly the need to adjust the mandated troop levels of AMISOM” in light of recent developments. In addition it reiterated previous calls “to adopt a resolution that enforces measures to control access to the ports of Kismayo, Haradhere, Marka and Barawe and an air-exclusion zone to cut off arms supplies to Al Shabaab”. It also “encouraged” the Council to consider the immediate partial re-hatting of AMISOM as a UN peacekeeping operation in Mogadishu.

 

However, the Council is not expected to act on these requests until there is further clarity from the AU on the next phase for AMISOM with regard to future troop levels and additional areas of deployment outside Mogadishu. The AU Commission is working in close cooperation with the UN to finalise a “strategic concept” for this next phase and it seems possible that the AU PSC will discuss this later in December.