Although the UK Ambassador to the UN reportedly shrugs off the SEMG Report as “not brilliant”, still, together with the U.S., current chair of the council, are determined to keep this discredited outfit in business.
By Whats in Blue,
Today morning (24 July) the Council is expected to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group until 25 November 2014. After initial negotiations last week and further revisions on Monday, the draft resolution was put under silence procedure until 9:30 this morning and is now in blue following a final change to one of the more controversial paragraphs.
The Draft Resolution
The draft resolution includes language on the arms embargo, charcoal ban, humanitarian issues, public financial management, the petroleum sector, the mandate of the monitoring group, and the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
The Federal Government of Somalia is reminded of its reporting obligations related to the partial lifting of the arms embargo, while new exemptions to the arms embargo have been added for the supply of weapons or military equipment intended for use by the UN Mission in Somalia and the European Union Training Mission in Somalia.
The draft resolution also reiterates that the charcoal export ban applies to all charcoal regardless of country of origin (presumably because Al Shabaab could also financially benefit from taxing foreign charcoal en route to Somalia’s ports) and reminds all member states, including troop contributors to AMISOM, of their obligations to abide by the export ban. As requested by the Emergency Relief Coordinator in her report transmitted to the Council on 12 July (S/2013/415), this resolution also includes language renewing the humanitarian exemption until 25 October 2014.
The sovereignty of UN member states was a theme that came up in two different contexts during negotiations of the draft resolution: the petroleum sector of Somalia and Monitoring Group’s access to Eritrea.
In each case, the initial text was modified to address the concerns of countries who felt strongly that the text needed to be sensitive to issues of state sovereignty. As a result, the final draft text simply encourages the Federal Government of Somalia to mitigate the risk of the petroleum sector becoming a source of conflict. (Apparently there had been interest among some Council members to include language reflecting the recommendation of the Monitoring Group for a moratorium on new oil contracts).
Sovereignty sensitivity also led to some disagreement over the wording of a paragraph relating to the access of the Monitoring Group to Eritrea. The initial draft demanded the Government of Eritrea facilitate access without any further delay, while the final text simply underlines the “expectation” of the Council in this regard.
This language reflects a compromise between Russia and China (who preferred less strong language on this issue) and several other Council members (who noted the Monitoring Group has in fact routinely been denied access to Eritrea).
Monitoring Group Reports on Somalia and Eritrea
On 18 July, Council members were briefed in consultations by Ambassador Kim Sook (Republic of Korea), chair of the Somalia and Eritrea Sanctions Committee. There was discussion of the Monitoring Group Reports on Somalia and Eritrea, as well as an update on the work of the Sanctions Committee in general. However, the status of individuals listed under the sanctions regime, such as Hassan Dahir Aweys (who is currently in government custody in Mogadishu), was not covered in consultations.
The Monitoring Group report on Somalia (S/2013/413) dated 12 July and available online just prior to the consultations, is 487 pages (46 pages, plus a 441 page annex).
It provides details of a number of violations of the arms embargo, international humanitarian law and the charcoal export ban. In addition it addresses a wide range of issues including: Al Shabaab’s regional and international networks, financial mismanagement and government corruption, the oil industry as a potential source of conflict, and obstruction of humanitarian assistance. Several of the findings and recommendations of the Monitoring Group were emphasised in the forthcoming resolution, such as: the significance of reporting requirements related to the arms embargo, the need for compliance with the charcoal export ban, and the importance of sound public financial management.
While the Monitoring Group’s report on Somalia was released earlier this month, Russia has blocked the release of the Monitoring Group’s report on Eritrea. In a letter sent to Ambassador Kim Sook, Russia stated that it “objects to the publication of the report due to the biased and groundless conclusions and recommendations contained in it.” Although the report has not yet been released, it has been leaked to the media which has reported that the Monitoring Group states there are direct connections between the government of Eritrea and warlords and agents of Al Shabaab in Somalia, such as Abdi Nur Said ‘Abdi Wal’ and Mohamed Wali Sheikh Ahmed Nuur, respectively. (In last year’s report the Monitoring Group was unable to substantiate linkages between Eritrea and Al Shabaab.)
Yesterday, under “any other business”, Russia apparently offered to allow release of the report if the US would agree to issue a statement to the press in its capacity as Council President clarifying that some members of the Council do not agree with the report’s content. This was opposed by the US, UK and Australia on the basis that it would set a negative precedent for the independence of the monitoring groups and panels of experts.
The issue of releasing the Monitoring Group’s report on Eritrea has now been sent back to the Somalia and Eritrea Sanctions Committee to be resolved.