UN Security Council renews partial lifting of arms embargo on Somalia
Permanent Representative Calls for Lifting of Outdated Sanctions which Do Not Reflect Country’s New Positive Reality
Through a recorded vote, the Security Council today renewed the mandate of the Panel of Experts for the sanctions regime on Somalia until 15 December 2020, while also extending exemptions for the arms embargo and enforcement authorizations for the ban on illicit trade.
Adopting resolution 2498 (2019) through a vote of 12 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions (China, Equatorial Guinea, Russian Federation), the Council renewed for one year the partial lifting of the arms embargo on Somali security forces and exemptions related to humanitarian aid, as well as the authorization for maritime interdiction of arms imports and charcoal exports that could benefit Al‑Shabaab and other armed groups.
In its restrictions on weapons for the security forces, the Council decided that the delivery to Somali security forces of heavy weapons listed in the resolution’s Annex A requires advance approval by the Committee pursuant to resolution 751 (1992), while light weapons listed in its Annex B require advance notification. Noting with concern reports that States were not adequately following such notification procedures, the Council reminded States of their obligations in that regard.
The Council also maintained exemptions regarding military weapons, technical advice and training to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the European Union Training Mission Somalia.
Condemning continued attacks by Al‑Shabaab in the country, along with violations of the ban on charcoal exports, the Council reaffirmed the importance of the Combined Maritime Forces’ efforts to disrupt the trade. Noting the increase in the use of improvised explosive devices by Al‑Shabaab, the Council decided that all States shall prevent the transfer of potential components of such devices.
Recalling its decisions to widen the criteria for targeted sanctions, the Council also reaffirmed that those criteria include planning, directing or committing acts involving sexual and gender‑based violence.
Following the adoption, Dmitry A. Polyanskiy (Russian Federation) concurred with the need to extend and amend the sanctions regime, particularly to curb the main threat to security in Somali that is Al‑Shabaab. However, he abstained because it was not necessary to mention Djibouti and Eritrea in the resolution, he said. Sanctions on Eritrea were lifted; the situation now lies in the realm of bilateral diplomacy. He also reiterated objections to the inclusion of human rights themes that are under the purview of the Human Rights Council and not the Security Council. An artificially‑created timeline created a difficult position for delegations, given the importance of the topic and the fact that there were substantial changes compared to last year’s text, he said, adding he hoped that the situation will not be repeated.
Zhang Jun (China), also noting the need for the sanctions and other assistance for security in Somalia, stressed that all such efforts should prioritize national ownership. He had actively engaged in negotiations on the draft resolution and noted some improvements, he said, but abstained because some of his proposals were not adopted in a way that left concerns. The situation in Eritrea and Djibouti did not pose a threat and the Council should acknowledge that to avoid imposing an outcome to bilateral efforts. In addition, he stressed that human rights issues should be discussed in suitable bodies such as the Human Rights Council. He expressed hope that more extensive consultations will be conducted in the future so that consensus can be achieved.
Juan Mbomio Ndong Mangue (Equatorial Guinea), adding his support to the role of the Panel of Experts, encouraged it to do its utmost to work together with Somali authorities. However, he said he abstained from the vote because the negotiation process was inadequate to incorporate the suggestions made by all Council members. He also said he preferred that issues not directly linked to the situation in Somali to be omitted from resolutions on it.
Nawaf A. S. A. Alahmad (Kuwait), welcoming the renewal of the Panel of Experts, expressed hope that it will contribute to stability and recovery in Somalia. He called on Somali authorities to do all they can to pave the way to planned elections and urged all Somalis to prioritize national interests and the achievement of fundamental rights by all citizens. He also expressed the importance of respecting Somalia’s sovereignty while assisting the Government to restore security.
Karen Van Vlierberge (Belgium), affirming the importance of the sanctions regime for peace and stability in Somalia, commended work done to update the resolution on the sanctions regime in order to make the text fit the current situation. She also applauded consideration of human rights concerns in the draft, calling on Somalia to strengthen cooperation with experts on protection of women and children in conflict and other human rights defenders.
Abukar Dahir Osman (Somalia) called for the lifting of outdated sanctions imposed against his country. The measures fail to take into account Somalia’s new positive reality and are not properly aligned with the Federal Government’s efforts to rebuild a unified, equipped Somali National Army capable of safeguarding its own people and territory. Affirming that Al‑Shabaab remains a serious threat to the peace and stability of Somalia and the wider region, he said that the sanctions lack clearly defined benchmarks in that context.
As well, the millions that the international community has spent on monitoring teams and the Panel of Experts for more than a decade “will not properly address the root causes of the problem”, he continued. Somalia’s partners should instead invest in improving the Government’s capacity in border control in order to curb the flow of foreign fighters and illegal weapons. Noting that the military base in Berbera is in clear violation of Somalia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, he stressed that his country will not tolerate the naming of Somali individuals and business enterprises by the Panel of Experts without a reasonable standard of proof.
The meeting began at 10:03 a.m. and ended at 10:21 a.m.