A United Nations official has recommended the establishment of an in-country UN mission to support the Somali government, as the organisation believes foreign assistance is needed to further drive the country’s recent political and security achievements and deal with its many other challenges.
“The new mission represents a fresh start for the UN in Somalia and a renewed commitment by the Council to support Somali-owned peace-building,” Jeffrey Feltman, Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the 15-member Security Council.
He said the Somali federal government, led by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, has been implementing its “Six Pillar Policy” for stabilisation and peace-building in the country, reaching beyond Mogadishu in an effort to realise its vision of building a unified federal state for the country, which has been beset by conflict for over two decades.
He added government’s approach to building new regional administrations is not accepted by all, with a draft charter ratified by three regions for the establishment of a so-called Jubaland State in southern Somalia, which the Government regards as unconstitutional.
In addition, the Islamist insurgent group Al-Shabaab remains a threat, having retaken a significant town following the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops and ramping up suicide bombings, underscoring the need to rapidly strengthen security.
As the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) was reaching its “operational limit,” Feltman said that a better funded and co-ordinated strategic security approach was required by the international community, one that “recognises well-trained and equipped Somali forces are the ultimate exit strategy for international military operations.”
He supported Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s view that a new political mission should work with government on its peace-building and state-building agenda, replacing the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), which is based in Nairobi.
Its role, Feltman said, would be “to act as an enabler, helping to create and galvanize the political and strategic environment in which stabilisation and peace-building can proceed, including by leveraging other parts of the UN system and international partners.”
In a March 2013 resolution renewing AMISOM’s authorisation, the Council said it “agrees with the Secretary-General UNPOS has fulfilled its mandate and should now be dissolved and further agrees UNPOS should be replaced by a new expanded special political mission as soon as possible”.
In that resolution it said the revised UN presence in Somalia should support recent political gains and address the urgent ongoing humanitarian and human rights situations and include good offices, advice and assistance on security, peacekeeping and state-building, preparation for elections, human rights and the rule of law and assistance for the co-ordination of international assistance.
The Council, in that resolution, also agreed with the secretary-general that “conditions in Somalia are not yet appropriate for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation”.
The United Nations was last actively involved in Somalia in the 1990s, with the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) being created in 1992 as a peacekeeping force. Due to the ineffectiveness of this mission to keep the peace and deliver humanitarian aid, the United States offered to establish a multinational force under its own leadership, leading to the Unified Task Force (UNITAF) to protect relief efforts.
In March 1993 the UN decided to transform the UNITAF mission into UNOSOM II, with a mandate to continue relief efforts and restore peace and stability. (UNITAF was subsequently dissolved.) UNOSOM II had more than 20 000 troops but was not able to successfully fulfil its nation-building mission. Its most glaring failure was the inability to capture warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid, whose forces were responsible for the deaths of dozens of peacekeepers.
Following the October 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, in which 18 US soldiers were killed, the US began pulling out of Somalia and completely departed in March 1994. UNOSOM II troops followed shortly afterwards, with the mission’s mandate ending in March 1995.