The Somalia sanctions committee and its Panel of Experts are partners of the Federal Government of Somalia in a mutual effort to counter the threat of terrorism and tackle the flow of arms to non-State actors, the head of the Committee told the Security Council today.
Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve (Belgium), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia, updating the 15-member organ on its work, underscored its role in countering any misconceptions that the sanctions are meant to target the Government.
The sanctions remain subject to review on a regular basis, said the Chair, who visited Somalia with other Committee members in January and who is also Council President for February. Quoting the Coordinator of the Panel of Experts, he said that recent attacks in Mogadishu and a series of incidents in Kenya demonstrated the ongoing threat that Al-Shabaab poses in Somalia and the region.
In the ensuing debate, Council members reiterated that sanctions are in place to help the Government confront Al-Shabaab and to restore stability in the Horn of Africa nation as it looks forward to democratic elections later in 2020.
Tunisia’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Niger, South Africa and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said that sanctions should aim to help the Government’s stabilization efforts. He called on the international community to provide support for the planned elections, thus enabling the people of Somalia to lay the foundation for stability and reconstruction.
The United Kingdom’s delegate said a partial embargo means the Federal Government can access the equipment and resources it needs to tackle the Al-Shabaab threat. Strongly condemning attacks by that group, he expressed hope that Somalia’s engagement with the Panel of Experts and sanctions committee will continue with international support.
The Russian Federation’s representative said he trusted that Council restrictions on the supply of components that could be used in improvised explosive devices, introduced in 2020, will work. He added that the Council must not be viewed by the Federal Government as biased and that a renewed composition of the Panel of Experts will help lead to constructive contacts.
Somalia’s representative, speaking at the end of the meeting, said that sustained offensives against Al-Shabaab demonstrated the growing capabilities of his country’s security forces. He requested continued international support to counter Al-Shabaab, stressing that the sanctions lack proper assessment of their effectiveness, and he again requested the full lifting of the arms embargo.
He went on to say that Kenya has become a destabilizing force and that is negating its engagement in the African Union Mission in Somalia. “Our region can best succeed with more cooperation and less interference,” he said, asserting Somalia’s right under the Charter of the United Nations to bring the matter before the Council if Kenya fails to cease its anti-peace actions.
Also speaking today were representatives of Germany, Indonesia, China, Viet Nam, Estonia, France and the United States.
The meeting began at 3:04 p.m. and ended at 3:51 p.m.
MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium), Council President for February, spoke in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia noting that his briefing is the first since the 15-member organ adopted resolution 2498 (2019) on 15 November 2019. Through that text, the Council consolidated and streamlined the provisions of the arms embargo, imposed a ban on components used for improvised explosive devices and renewed the mandate of the Panel of Experts on Somalia until 15 December 2020. During informal consultations on 17 January, the Coordinator of the Panel of Experts highlighted its heightened focus on Al-Shabaab’s sources of revenue. Recent attacks in Mogadishu and a series of incidents in Kenya demonstrated the ongoing threat that Al-Shabaab poses in Somalia and the region, he quoted the Coordinator as saying. He added that he visited Mogadishu with other Committee members from 21 to 23 January to raise awareness of the purpose and scope of the sanctions and gather first-hand information about their implementation. He emphasized the Committee’s role to correct any misperceptions that the sanctions are meant to target the Federal Government of Somalia and to highlight that the regime is subject to review on a regular basis. Both the Committee and its Panel of Experts are partners of the Government with the mutual aim of countering the threat of terrorism and tackling the flow of illegal arms to non-State armed groups in Somalia. He went on to report that the Committee approved an exemption request from the Government pursuant to paragraph 7 of resolution 2111 (2013) and received several advance notifications.
JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom) said a partial embargo means the Federal Government is able to access the equipment and resources needed to tackle the threat posed by Al-Shabaab. Strongly condemning attacks by that group, he expressed hope that Somalia’s engagement with the Panel of Experts and sanctions committee will continue with international support. Indeed, Somalia’s security is at a critical juncture. He encouraged collective efforts to stop the arms flow and support to Al-Shabaab, urging that progress be made in agreeing on individual designations, notably those proposed in October 2019. Somalia and its international supporters face a huge task to deliver the full transition to security, he said, reiterating the United Kingdom’s support in that regard.
MATHIAS LICHARZ (Germany) said sanctions are an indispensable instrument to foster State-building in Somalia and stability in the region. The point of an arms embargo is to support the Government and strengthen its ability to improve security. It aims to fight Al-Shabaab, including through a new improvised explosive device component. It is paramount that this provision be implemented, notably by neighbouring States. Germany remains ready to support Somalia’s Government in capacity-building, in particular to better register small arms and light weapons and support security sector reform, where much progress has been made, including in biometric registration. The cooperation of Somalia authorities is crucial for the sanctions to succeed, he said, stressing that the Council must ensure the Panel of Experts can carry out its work.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) voiced support for Mogadishu’s efforts to achieve socioeconomic stability and combat Al-Shabaab, noting that the weapons and charcoal embargos continue to work by curbing the finance channels of terrorist groups. He welcomed the partial lifting of the weapons ban and provision of multifaceted assistance to improve the operational readiness of Somali security forces and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). He trusted that Council restrictions placed on the supply of improvised explosive device components will work, clarifying that the Russian Federation views sanctions as a way for Somalia to achieve peace and stability. He expressed hope that contacts with the Panel of Experts will take on a “normal hue”, ensuring that the concerns of Somali authorities are fully considered, as Somali stakeholders and external forces will otherwise be unlikely to defer to their authority. The Council must not be viewed by the Federal Government as biased, he said, expressing the expectation that the renewed composition of the Panel of Experts will help “turn the page” and build constructive contacts.
ADEL BEN LAGHA (Tunisia), speaking also on behalf of Niger, South Africa and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, emphasized that sanctions are not an end to themselves, but rather should help the Government’s stabilization efforts. He welcomed the Government’s determination to hold elections within its timeline and called on the international community to provide support, thus enabling the people of Somalia to lay the foundation for stability and reconstruction.
ROLLIANSYAH SOEMIRAT (Indonesia) said that dialogue and cooperation between the Panel of Experts and the Government are key, and encouraged further confidence-building efforts in that regard. He underscored Indonesia’s concern about the ongoing threat posed by Al-Shabaab and looked forward to seeing recommendations for cutting that group from its sources of weapons and financing. He also stressed the need to spread awareness of the sanctions regime.
YAO SHAOJUN (China) said the Sanctions Committee is an important Council tool that should improve the focus of its work. It should aim to help the Government to enhance its governance and security capabilities. He added the sanctions are not an end in themselves, but a means to an end. They should contribute to the political settlement of relevant issues and eventually be lifted.
HO THE NAM PHAN (Viet Nam) supported the role of the Committee and the Panel of Experts, emphasizing that they both must discuss recommendations thoroughly and ensure that sanctions are rightly targeted, following closely the situation on the ground and making adjustments as appropriate.
GERT AUVÄÄRT (Estonia) expressed hope that the Federal Government and the Panel of Experts can reset their relations with a view to conquering terrorist threats. The Panel of Experts is a natural partner for Somalia and he supported its priorities for 2020, especially its focus on improvised explosive device components, which are aligned with those of Federal authorities. Sanctions are aimed at helping Somalia create stability by preventing illegal arms trafficking, cutting revenue sources for Al-Shabaab and fostering security sector reform and weapons management. Sanctions entail notification and exemption procedures, ensuring that authorities receive necessary equipment and resources for their security. They are customized in the best way to adjust to changing circumstances. He expressed hope that the Council, the Committee established pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia, the Panel of Experts and the Federal Government of Somalia will work together with a strong unity of purpose.
ANTOINE IGNACE MICHON (France) said the arms embargo is essential for enabling Somalia’s transition to peace, as it prevents terrorists from receiving arms and munitions, and supports authorities in improving the management of such weapons. Notification and exemption procedures allow Somalia to receive the parts needed for ensuring its security. He expressed hope that the Panel of Experts will continue to work with the Federal Government and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to analyse sources of Al-Shabaab financing. He welcomed the three visits to Mogadishu and discussions around priority cooperation between the Panel of Experts and the Federal Government, stressing that all Panel members must be able to conduct their work on the basis of their Council mandate.
RODNEY M. HUNTER (United States) said addressing the threat of ISIL/Da’esh and Al-Shabaab will require close cooperation between Somalia, its international partners and the Panel of Experts. The United States is committed to using the 751 sanctions to their fullest extent, including by providing assistance to counter terrorist financing. It supports the arms embargo as a means for preventing Al-Shabaab from accessing weapons. The sanctions do not prevent the Federal Government from obtaining the equipment it needs. Pressing the Committee to act expeditiously on nominations to the Panel of Experts, he likewise urged States to support sanctions designations and implement resolution 2498 (2019), which places a ban on improvised explosive device components.
ABUKAR DAHIR OSMAN (Somalia) said Al-Shabaab poses the biggest threat to the country and the region, having regained capacity and networks, and currently using vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, as seen in the 28 December 2019 attack near Ex-Control Afgoye junction and on 8 January 2020 at a checkpoint on Makka-Al-Mukarama Road. At the same time, it extends its influence through extortion, intimidation, propaganda and so-called courts. “The Federal Government of Somalia remains strongly committed to implementation of the Transition Plan,” he said, recognizing that mutually reinforcing efforts to reform the security sector — along with effective military operations and delivery of stabilization initiatives — are prerequisites for success.
Describing efforts by the Somali National Army and AMISOM to recover strategic areas in Lower Shabelle, he said sustained offensives against Al-Shabaab demonstrate the growing capabilities of the country’s security forces. The Federal Government has made substantial progress in building their ability to deliver the rule of law, he said, citing the completion of biometric registration and creation of an effective system to manage rations. The Somali Police Force has equally demonstrated its potential, supporting military operations and consolidating gains in recovered areas.
Turning to the Panel of Experts, he said Somalia’s aim is to maintain constructive relationship in terms of addressing terrorism financing, the illegal weapons flow and the charcoal trade. While the Federal Government has met several times with the Panel’s coordinators with view to resetting the relationship, they have not agreed on the way forward. The Panel — or the monitoring group in the past — made unsubstantiated allegations against individuals in and outside of the Government, causing significant reputational damage. Arms embargo reporting must be evidence-based with a reasonable standard of proof; however, that has not been followed. He again requested that a reliable mechanism be established to redress cases when allegations are wrongly made, pressing the Council to ensure that all efforts are made to fully investigate misconduct by the Panel of Experts.
Expressing confidence that all efforts will be taken to improve accountability, including through the application of policy guidance, he said Somalia faces multidimensional challenges with competing priorities. Resource gaps and logistical flexibility remain challenges in adapting to insurgents’ changing operational strategies. Strengthening intelligence sharing and joint planning is a priority and pivotal in joint operations to recover the remaining areas under Al-Shabaab control. He requested continued international support to counter Al-Shabaab, stressing that the sanctions lack proper assessment of their effectiveness, and he again requested the full lifting of the arms embargo, which has no time limit or clearly defined, verifiable benchmarks.
Announcing that he just received a report from Mogadishu that the Federal Government has exhausted all diplomatic means with Kenya on a particular matter, he said “our region can best succeed with more cooperation and less interference”. Kenya continues to be a destabilizing force, negating its engagement in AMISOM. Interference in Somalia’s domestic affairs is a breach of its sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and unity. Progress with the international community has been jeopardized by Kenya’s anti-peace actions, which are the antithesis to aims of global peace and a violation of article 2 paragraph 4 of the Charter of the United Nations. Somalia strongly condemns such blatant violations and will take all measures to defend its sovereignty and unity, in accordance with international law. It will invoke article 35 if Kenya does not cease its actions.