You must enable JavaScript to view this site.
This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Review our legal notice and privacy policy for more details.
Close
Homepage > Publication Type > Open Letters > Open Letter to the U.N. Secretary-General and the UN Security Council on Somalia

Open Letter to the U.N. Secretary-General and the UN Security Council on Somalia

Brussels  |   12 Jul 2005

Somalia faces a serious threat of greatly expanded violence if the UN Security Council creates an exemption to the arms embargo now applied to the country.

On 14 July 2005, the Council will consider such an exemption in order to permit deployment of a peace support operation by the Horn of Africa regional organisation, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). This deployment has been endorsed by the African Union (AU) -- subject to Council authorisation and lifting of the arms embargo -- and would be followed by an AU mission.

In letters last week to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and to the Permanent Representatives of UN Security Council members (full text below), Crisis Group President Gareth Evans urges the Council to defer consideration of the issue at this time.

"Under the right circumstances and with adequate planning, the proposed mission could contribute to restoring peace and government", says Evans. "Right now, however, the exemption would be premature and counterproductive".

The problem is that the interim president's appeal for foreign troops is very deeply divisive in Somalia, and has yet to receive the unambiguous approval of the Transitional Federal Institutions. An external military intervention in the Somali conflict at this stage would, in Crisis Group's judgement, undermine both the prospects for peace in the country and development of the AU's peacekeeping capacity.

The success of any international deployment to Somalia hinges upon broad consensus among the Somali leadership and unambiguous approval by the Transitional Federal Government and Parliament. Neither exists. And there are neither agreed ceasefire arrangements nor a common plan for disarmament and demobilisation.

The UN arms embargo on Somalia has been critical for limiting violence and its humanitarian consequences in Somalia. Lifting it for any reason at this critical time risks destabilising the transitional institutions, derailing the peace process and rekindling civil conflict.


8 July 2005

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Permanent Representatives of UN Security Council members

The Somali peace process is in deep crisis. The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) established in October 2004 is divided into two camps. Since its return to Somalia last month, tensions on the ground have escalated sharply as both have engaged in military preparations.

In a 26 June 2005 radio address, the Prime Minister indicated his camp was prepared to use force if members of the government and parliament continued to challenge his leadership; on 7 July, interim President Abdullahi Yusuf told the BBC he was mobilising forces and procuring military equipment in anticipation of a confrontation. As the Secretary-General noted in his recent report on Somalia, such differences "could assume further divisions along clan and regional lines", threatening renewed armed conflict and the collapse of the peace process. At this delicate point, the Security Council has a critical role to play.

On 14 July 2005, the Council will consider an exemption to the arms embargo established by Resolution 733 (1992), so as to permit deployment of an IGAD peace support operation (IGASOM). This deployment has been endorsed by the African Union -- subject to Council authorisation and lifting of the arms embargo -- and would be succeeded by an AU mission. Under the right circumstances and with adequate planning, that mission could contribute to restoring peace and government. At this time, however, the exemption would be premature and counterproductive.

The interim president's appeal for foreign troops is deeply divisive in Somalia and has yet to receive the unambiguous approval of the Transitional Federal Institutions. It is clear from the statements of some ministers and parliamentarians, as well as public demonstrations and media commentary in Somalia, that any intervention force risks being perceived as partisan. That risk is increased by the IGASOM concept of operations, which envisions Chapter VIII "peace enforcement". For peacekeepers to become embroiled in the Somali conflict would undermine both the prospects for peace in the country and development of the AU's peacekeeping capacity.

As I indicated in an earlier letter to IGAD heads of state (sent 9 February 2005), the success of any international deployment to Somalia hinges upon broad consensus among the Somali leadership and unambiguous approval by the TFG and Parliament. Neither exists. Further, there are neither agreed ceasefire arrangements nor a common plan for disarmament and demobilisation.

Before deployment of a peace support operation, these preparatory steps are needed:

  • revival of political dialogue between the two wings of the government within the context of the Transitional Federal Institutions;
  • national ceasefire arrangements, incorporating the progress to date in Mogadishu; and
  • broad consensus within the Transitional Federal Institutions on the mandate, scope, duration and membership of any peace support operation.

The UN arms embargo on Somalia has been critical for limiting violence and its humanitarian consequences in Somalia. Lifting it for any reason at this critical time risks destabilising the transitional institutions, derailing the peace process and rekindling civil conflict. I urge you, therefore, to defer consideration of an exemption until these preconditions have been fulfilled and instead encourage the African Union to put in place a political initiative that would complement its efforts on the military side.

At the same time, I hope the Council will take this opportunity to encourage the Somali leadership to engage in serious dialogue to salvage the peace process and lay the political foundation for a successful international mission.

Sincerely,

GARETH EVANS
President

 
This page in:
English

Contact Info