SECURITY COUNCIL RE-ESTABLISHES PANEL MONITORING SOMALIA ARMS EMBARGO

19 December 2008
SC/9546

SECURITY COUNCIL RE-ESTABLISHES PANEL MONITORING SOMALIA ARMS EMBARGO

19 December 2008
Security Council
SC/9546
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6050th Meeting (AM)

SECURITY COUNCIL RE-ESTABLISHES PANEL MONITORING SOMALIA ARMS EMBARGO

The Security Council today authorized the re-establishment of the group monitoring the arms embargo in Somalia for one year and added a fifth expert to handle the additional tasks it assigned to an expanded mandate.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1853 (2008), submitted by the United Kingdom under Chapter VII, the Council decided that the Monitoring Group established pursuant to resolution 1519 (2003) would continue the tasks outlined in paragraphs 3(a) to (c) of resolution 1844 (2008) -– which strengthened the arms embargo on the violence-plagued nation of Somalia by specifying sanctions on violators and expanding the mandate of the Committee that oversees the ban –- and carry out additionally the tasks outlined in paragraphs 23(a) to (c) of that resolution. 

By today’s text, the Monitoring Group would also continue to investigate all activities, including in the financial, maritime and other sectors, which generate revenues used to commit arms embargo violations.  It would also, among other duties, continue to investigate any means of transport, routes, seaports, airports and other facilities used in connection with those violations. 

The Monitoring Group would also continue refining and updating information on the draft list of those individuals and entities who violated the bans, first imposed by Security Council resolution 733 (1992).  Among other tasks, it would assist in identifying areas where the capacities of States in the region could be strengthened to facilitate implementation of the arms embargo, as well as the measures imposed in paragraph 1, 3 and 7 of resolution 1844 (2008). 

The meeting began at 10:11 a.m. and adjourned at 10:14 a.m.

Resolution

The full text of resolution 1853 (2008) reads as follows:

The Security Council,

Reaffirming its previous resolutions and the statements of its President concerning the situation in Somalia, in particular resolution 733 (1992) of 23 January 1992, which established an embargo on all delivery of weapons and military equipment to Somalia (hereinafter referred to as the “arms embargo”), resolution 1519 (2003) of 16 December 2003, resolution 1558 (2004) of 17 August 2004, resolution 1587 (2005) of 15 March 2005, resolution 1630 (2005) of 14 October 2005, resolution 1676 (2006) of 10 May 2006, resolution 1724 (2006) of 29 November 2006, resolution 1744 (2007) of 20 February 2007, resolution 1766 (2007) of 23 July 2007, resolution 1772 (2007) of 20 August 2007, resolution 1801 (2008) of 20 February 2008, resolution 1811 (2008) of 29 April 2008, and resolution 1844 (2008) of 20 November 2008,

Recalling that, as set out in its resolutions 1744 (2007) and 1772 (2007), the arms embargo on Somalia does not apply to (a) weapons and military equipment, technical training and assistance intended solely for support of or use by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and (b) supplies and technical assistance by States intended solely for the purpose of helping develop security sector institutions, consistent with the political process set out in those resolutions and in the absence of a negative decision by the Committee established pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) (hereinafter referred to as “the Committee”) within five working days of receiving an advance notification of such supplies or assistance on a case-by-case basis,

Reaffirming the importance of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia,

Reaffirming that the Djibouti Peace Agreement and follow-on dialogue process represent the most viable basis for a resolution of the conflict in Somalia, and reiterating its commitment to a comprehensive and lasting settlement of the situation in Somalia based on the Transitional Federal Charter (TFC),

Reiterating the urgent need for all Somali leaders to take tangible steps to continue political dialogue,

Commending the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, and reaffirming its strong support for his efforts,

Taking note of the report of the Monitoring Group dated 10 December 2008 (S/2008/769) submitted pursuant to paragraph 3(i) of resolution 1811 (2008) and the observations and recommendations contained therein,

Condemning flows of weapons and ammunition supplies to and through Somalia in violation of the arms embargo as a serious threat to peace and stability in Somalia,

Reiterating its insistence that all States, in particular those in the region, should refrain from any action in contravention of the arms embargo and should take all necessary steps to hold violators accountable,

Reiterating and underscoring the importance of enhancing the monitoring of the arms embargo in Somalia through persistent and vigilant investigation into the violations, bearing in mind that strict enforcement of the arms embargo will improve the overall security situation in Somalia,

Determining that the situation in Somalia continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region,

Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,

“1.   Stresses the obligation of all States to comply fully with the measures imposed by resolution 733 (1992), as well as resolution 1844 (2008);

“2.   Reiterates its intention to consider specific action to improve implementation of and compliance with measures imposed by resolution 733 (1992), as well as resolution 1844 (2008);

“3.   Decides to extend the mandate of the Monitoring Group referred to in paragraph 3 of resolution 1558 (2004), and requests the Secretary-General to take the necessary administrative measures as expeditiously as possible to re-establish the Monitoring Group for a period of 12 months, drawing, as appropriate, on the expertise of the members of the Monitoring Group established pursuant to resolution 1811 (2008), and with the addition of a fifth expert, in consultation with the Committee, in order to fulfil its expanded mandate, this mandate being as follows:

“(a)  to continue the tasks outlined in paragraphs 3(a) to (c) of resolution 1587 (2005);

“(b)  to carry out additionally the tasks outlined in paragraphs 23(a) to (c) of resolution 1844 (2008);

“(c)  to continue to investigate, in coordination with relevant international agencies, all activities, including in the financial, maritime and other sectors, which generate revenues used to commit arms embargo violations;

“(d)  to continue to investigate any means of transport, routes, seaports, airports and other facilities used in connection with arms embargo violations;

“(e)  to continue refining and updating information on the draft list of those individuals and entities who violate the measures implemented by Member States in accordance with resolution 733 (1992) and paragraphs 8(a) to (c) of resolution 1844 (2008), inside and outside Somalia, and their active supporters, for possible future measures by the Council, and to present such information to the Committee as and when the Committee deems appropriate;

“(f)  to continue making recommendations based on its investigations, on the previous reports of the Panel of Experts (S/2003/223 and S/2003/1035) appointed pursuant to resolutions 1425 (2002) of 22 July 2002 and 1474 (2003) of 8 April 2003, and on the previous reports of the Monitoring Group (S/2004/604, S/2005/153, S/2005/625, S/2006/229, S/2006/913, S/2007/436,S/2008/274 and S/2008/769) appointed pursuant to resolutions 1519 (2003) of 16 December 2003, 1558 (2004) of 17 August 2004, 1587 (2005) of 15 March 2005, 1630 (2005) of 14 October 2005, 1676 (2006) of 10 May 2006, 1724 (2006) of 29 November 2006, 1766 (2007) of 23 July 2007 and 1811 (2008) of 29 April 2008;

“(g)  to work closely with the Committee on specific recommendations for additional measures to improve overall compliance with the arms embargo, as well as the measures imposed in paragraphs 1, 3 and 7 of resolution 1844 (2008);

“(h)  to assist in identifying areas where the capacities of States in the region can be strengthened to facilitate the implementation of the arms embargo, as well as the measures imposed in paragraphs 1, 3 and 7 of resolution 1844 (2008);

“(i)  to provide to the Council, through the Committee, a midterm briefing within six months of its establishment, and to submit progress reports to the Committee on a monthly basis;

“(j)  to submit, for the Security Council’s consideration, through the Committee, a final report covering all the tasks set out above, no later than 15 days prior to the termination of the Monitoring Group’s mandate;

“4.   Further requests the Secretary-General to make the necessary financial arrangements to support the work of the Monitoring Group;

“5.   Reaffirms paragraphs 4, 5, 7, 8 and 10 of resolution 1519 (2003);

“6.   Requests the Committee, in accordance with its mandate and in consultation with the Monitoring Group and other relevant United Nations entities, to consider the recommendations in the reports of the Monitoring Group dated 5 April 2006, 16 October 2006, 17 July 2007, 24 April 2008, and 10 December 2008 and recommend to the Council ways to improve implementation of and compliance with the arms embargo as well as the measures imposed in paragraphs 1, 3 and 7 of resolution 1844 (2008), in response to continuing violations;

“7.   Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”

Background

Before the Security Council this morning for its consideration of the situation in Somalia was the report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia pursuant to resolution 1811 (2008) (document S/2008/769).  It was transmitted by Dumisani Kumalo, Chairman of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia.

The report recalls that the arms embargo on Somalia has been in effect for more than 16 years.  Most serviceable weapons and almost all ammunition currently available in the country have been delivered since 1992, in violation of the embargo.  Although provisions exist for exemptions to the embargo to be granted by the Security Council under resolutions 1725 (2006), 1744 (2007), 1772 (2007) and 1816 (2008), no exemption for delivery of arms and ammunition or other lethal support to any Somali armed force or group has ever been granted.  Consequently, the Monitoring Group believes that every armed force, group or militia in Somalia, their financiers, active supporters and, in some cases, foreign donors are currently in violation of the arms embargo.

According to the report, the pattern of arms embargo violations has remained fairly constant over the period of the Monitoring Group’s mandate, and appears to be broadly consistent with the findings of the previous report.  The relatively low volume of arms transfers to Somalia reflects a number of factors:  that the conflict is of relatively low intensity; that it is characterized by irregular warfare waged, with few exceptions, with small military formations; and the already high density of weapons in circulation in Somalia.

The Monitoring Group has found few indicators of escalation in the nature and scope of arms embargo violations over the past six months, its report says.  Somali armed forces and groups remain in possession of fairly limited arsenals, consisting principally of small arms and crew-served infantry weapons.  At the low end of this range are AK-47s, pistols and hand grenades; at the high end of the range are anti-aircraft cannons, anti-tank weapons and medium mortars.  There are a small number of functioning armoured vehicles, artillery pieces and rocket artillery, which are rarely used in combat.

The presence of Ethiopian forces on Somali territory and its support to allied Somali groups continue to be regarded by the Monitoring Group as violations of the arms embargo, says the report.   Eritrea continues to provide political, financial and military support to armed opposition groups.   Yemen remains the most important source of commercial arms transfers to Somalia.  External contributions to build the capacity of the Transitional Federal Government security forces have provided an important loophole through which arms, equipment and military skills are diverted to the open market or to armed opposition groups.

During the current mandate, the Monitoring Group has witnessed continuing erosion of the cohesion of the Transitional Federal Government, fragmentation of armed opposition groups and dramatic escalation in the activities of armed criminal groups, including terrorism and piracy.  Unless there is further progress towards a durable ceasefire, a credible political process and restoration of effective institutions of governance, such trends are likely to continue, the report warns.  However, failure to enforce the arms embargo will gravely undermine the prospects for progress on any and all of these fronts.

The report finds that the disintegration of the residual governance capacity of the Transitional Federal Government, notably the security sector, has contributed significantly to the dispersal of arms, ammunition, military equipment and trained soldiers throughout southern Somalia.  The consequences of this entropy are likely to be sustained and far-reaching, as they further undermine the prospects for restoration of centralized authority and a State monopoly over the legitimate use of force.

Despite the haemorrhaging of the security sector, there remains a steady demand for arms and ammunition from commercial arms markets, chiefly in Yemen, according to the report.  The inability of the Government of Yemen to stem the flow of weapons across the Gulf of Aden has long been, and is likely to remain, a key obstacle to the restoration of peace and security to Somalia.  Curbing the flow of Yemeni weapons to Somalia will require a package of robust political pressures and incentives, capacity-building programmes for coast guards around the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, and direct naval action to interdict arms trafficking.

The phenomenal growth of piracy in recent months is also in part driven by non-enforcement of the arms embargo, the report says.  The expansion of maritime militias has benefited from ready access to arms and ammunition.  The Group has identified an overlap between piracy, contraband and arms trafficking across the Gulf of Aden.  It has also established that piracy networks benefit from the complicity and protection of senior officials in the Puntland administration.  In addition to the type of maritime operations envisaged by EU NAVCO, Combined Task Force-150 and other maritime security forces, the Monitoring Group believes that interdiction of arms trafficking across the Gulf of Aden and the imposition of targeted sanctions against key pirate leaders and their sponsors in the Puntland administration would contribute significantly to international piracy efforts.

At the same time, the Monitoring Group says there is no escaping the importance of escalating ransom payments in fuelling the growth of piracy (and the related crime of kidnapping) and in financing violations of the arms embargo.  Piracy attacks have become the most lucrative economic activity in Somalia, and the pirates are using part of the ransom monies to upgrade their arsenals in order to become more effective and efficient in their operations.  Unless international action is able to reverse the cost-benefit ratio that drives the piracy phenomenon, it is likely to remain a scourge to international shipping in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean and to peace and security in Somalia.

The Monitoring Group recommends the following:  that the sanctions Committee request the Transitional Federal Government and the African Union Mission of Somalia to report on measures taken for the establishment of a transparent process for the management and disposal of weapons, and that letters be sent to the Transitional Federal Government, AMISOM and the Government of Ethiopia; that the Committee request that the Transitional Federal Government, AMISOM and any other international forces to be deployed in the future to Somalia put in place transparent systems for the registration, management and disposal of weapons, ammunition and explosive stockpiles in accordance with international practices; that emphasis be placed on rapid destruction of surplus and that the Committee be informed within two months of the measures taken in this respect.

On tracing weapons, a key element in its efforts to document arms embargo violations in Somalia, the Monitoring Group recommends that the Committee remind Member States of their obligations under the International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons; and that the Security Council require States and international organizations that come into possession of weapons, ammunition or military material, that is either on Somali territory or is destined for Somalia or has originated in Somalia, to record the identifying characteristics of those items and share them with the Monitoring Group, in accordance with paragraph 6 of Security Council resolution 1425 (2002).

The Monitoring Group recommends that the Security Council consider establishing more precise guidelines for the notification of support to Somali security sector institutions, including the identification of any executing agencies and/or implementing partners involved in the programme; revisiting exemptions on a periodic basis to determine whether or not the exemption should be renewed; permit verification of such activities by the Monitoring Group in order to ensure that they are consistent with the exemption authorized; and that the Council consider formally extending to international organizations, including United Nations specialized agencies, the requirement to notify the Committee in advance of security sector support programmes.

Concerning piracy, the Monitoring Group recommends that the Security Council authorize international naval forces in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, including Combined Task Force-150, EU NAVCO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) maritime force, and the Russian naval component, to seize any weapons encountered in the course of their operations and to actively interdict arms trafficking according to their capabilities; request the same naval forces to share information relating to weapons seizures with the Monitoring Group; revisit the proposal to establish a maritime administration caretaker authority for Somalia, in order to ensure the monitoring, control and surveillance of Somali waters; encourage Member States to provide capacity-building and support for the operations of the Somali Coast Guard forces, notably Somaliland and Puntland, as well as the navies and coast guards of regional States such as Kenya, Yemen and Djibouti; and take under consideration the issue of ransom payments for the release of vessels hijacked off the Somali coast, and the linkage between ransom payments and arms embargo violations, and adopt a common position on the legality of such payments.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.