Somalia (S/2013/521)

Thursday, September 3, 2015
Report Analysis: 

The report of the Secretary-General, dated 3 September 2013 (S/2013/521), provided information on: the first 90 days of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), an assessment of the political and security implications of wider UN deployments across Somalia, and an update on major developments in Somalia between 16 May and 15 August 2013. Pursuant to SCR 2102 of 2 May 2013, and in line with the integrated strategic approach set out in the Secretary-General report of 31 January 2013 (S/2013/69), this report reviewed the political and security challenges of consolidating peace in Somalia and realizing its vision for elections in 2016. Ongoing disputes between the federal government and regional authorities in “Jubaland,” “Puntland” and “Somaliland” over the nature of a federal system, as well as the continued capacity – despite reports of infighting – of Al-Shabaab to undermine stability in the country, have meant slow progress in the implementation of the UNSOM mandate. Alongside the federal government and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), UNSOM has endeavored to confront these security sector and governance challenges, human rights concerns, weak rule of law institutions, the polio endemic, and persistent humanitarian needs. Moreover, AMISOM and UNSOM worked in coordination with the federal government towards Somalia’s socioeconomic recovery, peacebuilding efforts, international coordination, a “New Deal” aid framework, and the integration of broader UN operations across Somalia.

The Secretary-General report on Somalia offered a narrow exploration of women, peace and security concerns, almost exclusively focused on protection issues.  It did highlight, however, that “[s]exual and gender-based violence against women and girls remained one of the most insidious consequences of the conflict,” and paragraph 42 (as well as paras.43;75) went on to further detail the dreadful state of affairs for women, girls and children, especially those in settlements for displaced persons in Mogadishu.

Beyond protection concerns and the brief accompanying mentions of impunity for perpetrators and assistance for victims, there was no gender perspective incorporated into the report. Therefore, the Secretary-General missed the opportunity to recognize and stress the importance of women’s role as participants in an inclusive process of political reform, peace consolidation, and peacebuilding.

The June 2013 MAP called on the UN to take specific steps to ensure women’s full participation in political processes and election preparations in Somalia, as well as to ascertain that the UNSOM deployment followed through on its mandate to effectively address ongoing sexual and gender-based violence. The Secretary-General report on Somalia did acknowledge continuing sexual and gender-based violence, cited preventive and responsive programming, and appealed for the establishment of a National Human Rights commission as well as the strengthening of policing and legal capacity to address sexual violence. However, the report included no mention of Senior Gender or Women Protection Advisors, nor of the essential role women must play as participatory actors in broader peace consolidation and inclusive reform.

Contrasted with the Secretary-General report of 31 January 2013 (S/2013/69), which advocated for a new special political mission within Somalia, the recent Secretary-General report of 3 September 2013 (S/2013/521) was somewhat less comprehensive in its gender analysis. Although both reports concentrated most of their gender-specific language on the importance of protection, report S/2013/69 also included a section on women’s participation in politics and the modest gains made towards the 30 percent quota in the National Constituent Assembly and the federal Parliament.

On 12 September 2013 (S/PV.7030), Mr. Nicholas Kay – Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), and Mr. Mahamat Saleh Annadif – Special Representative of the African Union and Head of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), briefed the Security Council on the situation in Somalia, 90 days after the establishment of UNSOM and one year after the new federal government was established.  The briefing largely focused on the political and security situation within Somalia, highlighting the recent agreement of 28 August between political leaders of Jubaland and the Somali government, the need for constructive engagement with other regions and progress on constitutional review, and continuing security challenges posed by al-Shabaab. The speakers also addressed the New Deal compact and conference in Brussels; capacity challenges; humanitarian concerns in health (including polio), food security, and displacement; and human rights violations of sexual violence.  

The SRSG referenced the importance of gender equality, but then offered a limited perspective on women, peace and security, predominantly focusing upon sexual violence and the need for more robust systems of investigation and prosecution, including greater protection for survivors and witnesses. He also noted the concerns of access to healthcare, food security, displacement, and violations of children’s rights, but not through a gender lens. The Special Representative of the African Union commented on AMISOM’s zero tolerance policy and the work AMISOM had done with the Somali government to put in place a gender policy soon to be presented to Parliament.   

In different ways, both speakers addressed concerns of sexual violence in Somalia, but neither offered a more holistic approach to women, peace and security concerns. Therefore, the briefers missed the opportunity to stress the critical role of women in conflict resolution, mediation, and negotiation within regional discussions on the federal structure. Additionally, neither Mr. Kay nor Mr. Annadif made any mention of civil society and its essential involvement in transitional processes and decision-making. Both briefers also neglected to consider the ways that women and girls were specifically affected by the humanitarian and human rights challenges within the country, outside of sexual violence. Further, Mr. Annadif inappropriately stressed the unfounded rape allegations of one Somali woman without acknowledging and contextualizing the epidemic of rape and sexual violence in Somalia, the accompanying fear and shame around reporting, and the frequent lack of impartial investigation and prosecution for such crimes.[1]

In relation to the recent MAP of September 2013, the SRSG did acknowledge the serious and urgent human rights challenge of sexual violence in Somalia, and noted the need for much more robust systems of investigation and prosecution, including through protection of survivors and witnesses. Mr. Annadif contended that AMISOM has adopted a zero tolerance policy, with early warning mechanisms, permanent investigation structures, and awareness-raising campaigns.  Outside of the (encouraging) emphasis on protecting against sexual violence, however, neither speaker addressed the need for women’s full participation within election preparations or political efforts towards resolving the ongoing armed conflict.

The previous briefing on Somalia on 6 June 2013 (S/PV.6975) was convened by the United Kingdom in its role as Council President, and included statements from the Deputy Secretary General, each of the Council members, and representatives from Ethiopia and Somalia. Most references to women, peace and security concerns similarly focused on human rights challenges, and the problem of sexual violence in particular, with the occasional comment on the need for women’s participation in political dialogue and processes.


PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
Security Council Agenda Geographical Topic: 
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