Key Members Differ over Neighbour’s Support for Al-Shabaab Terror Group, Release of Djibouti Prisoners Taken during 2008 Border Clashes
The Security Council today extended the arms embargo on Somalia until 15 November 2017, while reaffirming that country’s sovereignty over its natural resources. It also reaffirmed its arms embargo on Eritrea.
Adopting resolution 2317 (2016) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter — by a vote of 10 in favour none against, with 5 -abstentions (Angola, China, Egypt, Russian Federation, Venezuela) — the Council also extended the mandate of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group until 15 December 2017, and urged the Government of Eritrea to facilitate the Group’s entry into that country.
By terms of the text, the Council underlined the need for Member States to follow strictly the notification procedures for providing the assistance needed to develop Somalia’s security sector institutions, and urged increased cooperation by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in documenting and registering all military equipment captured as part of offensive operations.
Reiterating concerns that the petroleum sector could be driving increased conflict, the Council underlined the vital importance of the Federal Government of Somalia putting a resource-sharing agreement and a credible legal framework in place. It also expressed serious concern about the Al-Shabaab terrorist group’s increasing reliance on revenues derived from natural resources, including taxes on the illicit sugar trade, agricultural production and livestock. The Council reaffirmed the ban on the import and export of charcoal into or out of Somalia, and requested that AMISOM support and help the Federal authorities implement a total ban.
Further by the text, it expressed serious concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation and condemned, in the strongest terms, increased attacks against humanitarian actors. The Council also demanded that all parties allow and facilitate unhindered access for the timely delivery of aid to persons in need across the country, encouraging the Federal Government to improve the regulatory environment for aid donors.
The Council also expressed concern about continued reports of corruption, diversion of public resources and financial impropriety involving members of the Federal Government Administration and the Federal Parliament, underlining that individuals engaged in acts that threatened Somalia’s peace and reconciliation process might be listed for targeted sanctions.
Also by the text, the Council demanded that the Government of Eritrea allow access or provide information, including to the Monitoring Group, on the Djiboutian prisoners missing in action since clashes between the two countries between 10 and 12 June 2008.
Following the vote, a number of countries expressed their support for the resolution, which targeted causes of instability in the Horn of Africa. The United Kingdom’s representative said the renewal of the sanctions regime would cut off Al-Shabaab’s funding and protect Somalia’s natural resources. Regarding Eritrea, he declared: “We don’t welcome the progress because nothing has changed,” while emphasizing that the lack of cooperation on the part of the country’s authorities had “tied the international community’s hands”. The representative of the United States echoed that sentiment, stressing that non-cooperation was not the path to getting the sanctions lifted. While no evidence had been found that Eritrea supported Al-Shabaab, that was difficult to corroborate because the Monitoring Group had not been allowed into the country, she said.
The Russian Federation’s representative noted the Monitoring Group’s affirmation that there was no evidence of Eritrean support for Al-Shabaab, and that its support for regional armed groups no longer existed.
Similarly, Angola’s representative said that, while a constructive proposed roadmap for changing the sanctions regime would encourage Eritrea to engage with the international community, that proposal had not been considered.
Djibouti’s representative said it was regrettable that, although Eritrea’s release of prisoners in March had raised hope, its past practices continued. Djibouti supported extending the sanctions regime, he added.
Also speaking today were representatives of China, Egypt, and Venezuela.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 10:50 a.m.
MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) said Al-Shabaab continued to pose a serious threat to peace and stability in the region, and the sanctions regime’s renewal would cut off the group’s funding and protect Somalia’s natural resources. Turning to Eritrea, he said the lack of cooperation by that country’s authorities had tied the international community’s hands. “We don’t welcome the progress because nothing has changed,” he declared, adding that the Council had engaged with regional stakeholders in order to balance views on the text.
WU HAITAO (China) said his country would continue to help Somalia’s State-building efforts. Encouraging countries in the region to take the “big picture” into account, he called on them to strengthen neighbourly relationships and avoid confrontation. China hoped that the Security Council would pay close attention to changes on the ground and make timely adjustments, while remaining responsive to the legitimate concerns of States, he said.
JULIO HELDER MOURA LUCAS (Angola) said his delegation had abstained from the vote because the Monitoring Group had found no evidence of Eritrea’s support for Al-Shabaab. While a constructive proposed roadmap towards changing the sanctions regime would encourage the Government of Eritrea to engage with the international community, that proposal had not been considered, he noted.
ISOBEL COLEMAN (United States), emphasizing her strong support for the resolution, which targeted causes of instability in the Horn of Africa, said that sanctions regimes were an important part of the international community’s response to the situation there. Eritrea had called for an end to the sanctions but its lack of cooperation was not the path to lifting them, she said. While no evidence had been found that Eritrea supported Al-Shabaab, that was difficult to corroborate because the Monitoring Group had not been allowed to visit the country. No information had been provided on the fate of Djiboutian prisoners of war. Somalia, however, had transitioned from being a failed State to building a State, she said.
PETR V. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) said his delegation had been forced to abstain from the vote because the Monitoring Group had affirmed that there was no evidence of Eritrean support for Al-Shabaab in Somalia. The allegations of its support for regional armed groups simply did not exist anymore, he emphasized, suggesting that a roadmap be drawn up on the matter.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) emphasized that the resolution’s wording should have been more balanced. Acknowledging positive developments, including the absence of support for Al-Shabaab, he called upon Council members to use clear criteria when determining sanctions, adding that it should be done in such a way as to promote peace and security, while resolving regional concerns. Stressing that sanctions must not continue forever, he said they must be flexible enough to be responsive to changes on the ground.
RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) said he had abstained from voting on the resolution because the section on Eritrea was unfair. The Sanctions Committee’s workings were a clear example of imposing sanctions as an end in itself, he said, speaking in his capacity as Chair of that subsidiary body. Such measures should not be used for the collective punishment of a country, he said, emphasizing that the sanctions imposed on Eritrea had no further political purpose beyond serving the national interests of permanent members. The Monitoring Group had submitted a professional opinion that pointed to the case for lifting the sanctions, he said, pointing out that for three years in a row, no evidence had been found of Eritrea lending support to Al-Shabaab. Qatar was working to obtain the release of a number of prisoners of war and to settle the dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti, and a roadmap was needed for lifting the sanctions. China’s proposal to address that issue had won the support of five members, but the penholder seemed to believe it was not appropriate, he noted. Venezuela supported the resolution’s elements on Somalia, he added.
AMANUEL GIORGIO (Eritrea) said the Council had committed a grave injustice against his country’s people, declaring: “There is no reason to maintain sanctions against Eritrea.” The Monitoring Group had proven the justification for the measures non-existent, he pointed out, emphasizing that the sanctions had been detrimental not only to Eritrea, but also to the wider Horn of Africa region. Sanctions encouraged zero-sum approaches and imparted a sense of impunity on the part of some countries, he said. Turning to Djibouti, he said Eritrea supported the State of Qatar’s mediation, which had resulted in the release of all prisoners of war.
MOHAMED SIAD DOUALEH (Djibouti) expressed concern about his country’s combatants missing in action since the 2008 clashes with Eritrea. That country’s release of prisoners in March had raised hope, but unfortunately, its past practices continued. Furthermore, Al-Shabaab continued to pose a serious threat to peace and stability in Somalia, he noted, expressing support for extending the sanctions regime. – UN ORG
Date Published: 10 NOVEMBER 2016