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SC/14703
15 November 2021
8905th Meeting (PM)

Security Council, Renewing Arms Embargo on Somalia, Authorization to Inspect Vessels, Adopts Resolution 2607 (2021) by 13 Votes in Favour, 2 Abstentions

Country’s Important Input Not Considered in Text, Key Representative Says, Reiterating Call for Sanctions to be Lifted

To enforce the arms embargo on Somalia, the Security Council decided today to reauthorize maritime interdiction of illicit weapons imports and charcoal exports, while also renewing the mandate of the Panel of Experts on Somalia.

Adopting resolution 2607 (2021) (to be issued as document S/RES/2607(2021)) by a vote of 13 in favour, none against, with 2 abstentions (China and the Russian Federation), the 15-member Council, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, renewed and expanded the provisions set out in paragraph 15 of resolution 2182 (2014) until 15 November 2022.  In doing so, it authorized Member States to inspect vessels in Somali territorial waters and on the high seas extending to and including the Arabian sea and Persian Gulf which they had “reasonable grounds” to believe were carrying charcoal or weapons or military equipment, including components for improvised explosive devices.

However, the resolution also notes that the arms embargo does not apply to weapons, military equipment, technical advice, financial and other assistance and training related to military activities intended solely for the development of the Somali National Security Forces.  The exemption is also extended to, among others, United Nations and African Union missions in Somalia as well as States or international, regional and subregional organizations undertaking measures to suppress acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia.

By the text’s other provisions, the Council, reiterating that Al-Shabaab’s terrorist and other activities have a destabilizing impact in Somalia and the region, underscored the need to target the group’s finances, improve maritime domain awareness, prevent illicit revenue generation, including from the sale of charcoal, and reduce the threat posed by improvised explosive devices.

On State-building and peacebuilding, the Council called on the federal Government, in coordination with the federal member states, to accelerate the implementation of the National Security Architecture and the Somalia Transition Plan.  Moreover, the Council called upon the international community to provide additional and coordinated support to help the federal Government and federal member states continue to develop their weapons and ammunition management capacity, with a particular focus on training, storage, support for infrastructure and distribution, technical assistance and capacity building.

As for the mandate of the Panel of Experts on Somalia, which was renewed until 15 December 2022, the Council requested the experts to include gender as a cross-cutting issue in its investigations and reporting.

The Council also requested the Secretary‑General to provide an update, no later than 31 July 2022 on any further developments towards the normalisation of relations between Eritrea and Djibouti.

The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking after the adoption, noted her delegation’s abstention and expressed regret that the Council could not reach consensus although it was within reach.  Moscow could not agree on retaining a provision about Djibouti and Eritrea as the sanctions on the latter were lifted in 2018.  Their current relation does not pose a threat to international peace and security and their outstanding issues can be settled through bilateral diplomacy, she said.  The provision is outdated and has nothing to do with the Somalia sanctions regime; keeping that provision in the text is meant to serve the bilateral interests of certain Council members or putting pressure on the country they dislike.  Further, her delegation could not agree on wording in operative paragraph 38, which compels the Panel of Experts to advance gender issues across its mandate without considering country specificity, she said, adding that such action is artificial and politized.

China’s delegate emphasized that Somalia has made considerable strides towards national reconstruction.  The Government has updated its transition plan, demonstrating its ability to independently take security responsibility and take ownership of its own destiny.  Based on the country’s request, the Council should modify the arms embargo so that the federal Government can enhance its security capacity and restore State authority.  It is regrettable that the resolution does not contain sufficient adjustments.  On the other hand, the resolution added new mandates against the general direction towards lifting sanctions.  It did not address concerns about a leakage of financial information that posed security risks to some personnel and institutions.  China had no choice but to abstain, he said.

The representative of Somalia also noted his regret that, for the third year in a row, his delegation’s important input had not been considered.  He went on record to request the removal of sanctions that had been imposed on his country in 1992.  That arms embargo is one of the longest standing embargoes with the widest mandate, he observed.  “Sanctions are a tool but not an end itself,” he added, stressing that they should be directed against the terrorist group Al-Shabaab.

The yearly adoption of the sanctions regime for the past three decades should not be a monumental event, he continued, urging Council members to be guided by compelling evidence, not intuition or emotions.  The implementation of sanctions should be regularly assessed and modified to defeat Al-Shabaab, he stressed, calling for the regime to be fully lifted.  Evidence-based reporting is the best practice in modifying the United Nations embargo, he added, citing a questionable level of expertise in the reports provided.  He encouraged serious consideration be undertaken towards establishing confidentiality and a redress mechanism in the Panel of Experts to address leaks and wrongful allegations.

The meeting began at 4:35 p.m. and ended at 4:48 p.m.

For information media. Not an official record.