Security Council Renews Mandate of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG)

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UNSC renews the mandate of SEMG until 30 November 2015; requests submission of final reports by 30 September 2015 and demands regular visit by SEMG to Eritrea in the next mandate
A compromise has been reached with a reference to Eritrea’s “influence” in Somalia after two permanent members objected the ‘language’ referenced in the report following SEMG failure to documented a direct link between Eritrea and Al-Shabaab. The Council, however, renews the mandate until 30 November 2015; requests submission of final reports by 30 September 2015 and demands regular visit by SEMG to Eritrea in the next mandate.

By What’s In Blue,

TODAY, the Council is set to vote on a resolution on Somalia-Eritrea sanctions and the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

A draft text was first circulated last Friday, followed by three expert-level meetings this week. At press time the draft resolution was expected to be put into blue this evening.

In relation to sanctions, the draft resolution authorises for 12 months the interdiction of vessels believed to be carrying charcoal from Somalia in violation of the charcoal export ban or transporting weapons in violation of the arms embargo, and decides to review these measures within six months.

It also renews the partial lifting of the arms embargo for the security forces of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) until 30 October 2015, and requests the FGS to report to the Council twice, by 30 March 2015 and then by 30 September 2015.

In addition it renews the mandate of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) until 30 November 2015 and requests submission of final reports on Somalia and Eritrea sanctions by 30 September 2015.

It also renews the humanitarian exemption until 30 October 2015 and requests the Emergency Relief Coordinator to report to the Council by 1 October 2015.

With regard to AMISOM, the draft resolution renews the mission’s authorisation until 30 November 2015, and requests the Secretary-General to incorporate humanitarian access issues related to AMISOM operations into regular reporting on the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia.

The innovative provisions regarding the interdiction at sea of illicit charcoal exports and illicit arms imports were the most difficult for Council members to negotiate, perhaps due to their technical nature and the relative lack of precedents to draw upon. The impetus for their inclusion came from a letter dated 8 October, in which Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud specifically asked the Council to authorise maritime forces to prevent charcoal exports and arms imports by Al-Shabaab.

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In order to allay the concerns of some Council members, there are numerous safeguards built into the text including: a notification procedure involving the FGS and the Secretary-General regarding which naval forces are authorised to carry out interdiction, a “reasonable grounds” threshold for naval forces to take action, provisions regarding compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law, reporting requirements to the 751/1907 committee for any member state that undertakes inspection at sea as well as within 30 days after the destruction or disposal of arms or charcoal, and a Council review within six months.

While the partial lifting of the arms embargo in Somalia had been controversial in previous negotiations, particularly when first authorised in March 2013 with resolution 2093, it has become increasingly less contentious over time. It appears that there was little dissent over this issue during the negotiations.

However, in its final report on Somalia, the SEMG found that while the reporting of the FGS has improved, given “anomalies, inaccuracies or lack of notification”,the FSG has not been in full compliance with its obligations when importing weapons (S/2014/726).

The SEMG also determined that the import of arms and ammunition to date (13,000 weapons and 5.5 million rounds of ammunition) exceed the requirements of the security forces, and there continue to be problems with the diversion of arms and ammunition to markets in Mogadishu.

The SEMG accordingly recommended an annual quantitative limit on future FGS arms imports, which was not incorporated in the current resolution. As outlined in its presidential statement of 22 May 2014 (S/PRST/2014/9), the Council’s approach has been to focus on capacity building for the FGS to better regulate arms and ammunition. The draft resolution reiterates the Council’s request to the FGS to establish a joint verification team with international partners to conduct routine investigations and therefore mitigate the diversion of arms and ammunition.

The Council has praised the success of the joint AMISOM and Somali National Army (SNA) military offensive, while at the same time expressing concern over human rights and humanitarian issues. Significantly, the draft text requests AMISOM and the SNA to give top priority to securing supply routes for humanitarian actors (at the initiative of Chile, the Council was briefed in consultations yesterday on the deteriorating humanitarian situation is Somalia by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos).

Overall, the language on human rights has been strengthened and includes new elements. In this regard, it welcomes the AU’s investigation and investigations by troop-contributing countries into reports of sexual exploitation and abuse, underlining the importance of accountability and transparency, while requesting that the outcome of the investigations be made public. The draft text further includes language on the need for civilian casualty tracking, the importance of pre-deployment training and human rights accountability mechanisms, strengthening institutional structures to prevent sexual and gender based violence, and condemns human rights violations against children.

The draft resolution also addresses economic factors, particularly the need for accountability in public financial management and the petroleum sector. The draft text expresses concern that corruption may be undermining security and state building, it urges greater transparency regarding assets recovered abroad and port revenues, urges the FGS to tighten financial governance procedures and welcomes the establishment of the Financial Governance Committee (which includes membership by the World Bank, African Development Bank and an observer from the International Monetary Fund). More systematic transparency is also encouraged on the part of international donors. Regarding the oil sector, a preambular paragraph stresses the need to resolve issues of resource management and ownership within the context of broader discussions regarding federalism. A recommendation by the SEMG to impose a moratorium on oil licensing was not incorporated. At least one member of the Council, Russia, voiced strong objections on the basis of national sovereignty.

Regarding Eritrea, the draft resolution welcomes meetings held in Paris and Cairo and via teleconference between the SEMG and the government of Eritrea, while underlining the Council’s expectation that the depth of cooperation will increase during the next SEMG mandate, including through regular visits to Eritrea by the SEMG.

During the most recent reporting cycle, the SEMG was once again denied access to conduct investigations within Eritrea (S/2014/727). During negotiations, there was some disagreement among Council members regarding the wording of a reference to linkages between Eritrea and Somalia within the context of an Article 39 determination of a threat to international peace and security.

Two permanent members objected to language regarding Eritrea’s “role” in Somalia because the SEMG had not documented a direct link between Eritrea and Al-Shabaab. It appears a compromise was reached with a reference to Eritrea’s “influence” in Somalia.