Adopting Resolution 2551 (2020) by 13 Votes in Favour, 2 Abstentions, Security Council Extends Mandate for Expert Panel on Somalia, Renews Partial Lifting of Arms Embargo
The Security Council today extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts on Somalia until 15 December 2021, renewed the partial lifting of the arms embargo on the country’s security forces and urged the country to curb terrorist financing as well as illicit exports, including charcoal and explosive ingredients.
Adopting resolution 2551 (2020) by a recorded vote of 13 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (China, Russian Federation), the Council, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, decided the arms embargo shall exempt deliveries of arms, technical advice, financial assistance or training intended for Somali security forces. It further prohibited weapons and military equipment supplied to the Somali National Security Forces or Somali security sector institutions from being resold or made available to entities outside the country’ security forces.
Exceptions to the arms embargo are the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and other Organization personnel, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) or AMISOM’s strategic partners and the European Union Training Mission in Somalia. The Council further exempted from the embargo international, regional and subregional organizations attempting to suppress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the Somalian coast.
By other terms, the Council called on the federal Government of Somalia to speed up implementation of the national security architecture, including decisions about the composition, distribution and command of its forces, urging it to update and implement the Somalia Transitional Plan. It also underscored the responsibility of the Government and Federal Member States to ensure the safe management, storage and security of their stockpiles of weapons, ammunition and other military equipment.
Expressing concern about Al‑Shabaab’s ability to generate revenue and launder resources, the Council called on the Government to work with financial authorities, private sector institutions and the international community to mitigate money‑laundering and terrorist financing risks. Adding that it should also strengthen supervision and enforcement, the Council encouraged the Government to consider implementing a national identification programme to help mitigate financing risks.
The Council also condemned exports of charcoal from Somalia, which are banned from leaving the country, urging maritime forces in the region to disrupt illicit flows that may finance terrorist activities. Noting the increase in improvised explosive device attacks undertaken by Al‑Shabaab, the Council further encouraged States to prevent the direct or indirect sale or transfer of items that could be used in manufacturing these devices.
Addressing the adoption, China’s delegate noted that Somalia’s elections are steadily proceeding but that the security situation remains volatile and uncertain. He abstained from the vote, he said, as the draft fails to take on board China’s proposal to lift the arms embargo on Somalia as well as its inclusion of Djibouti and Eritrea.
Similarly, the Russian Federation’s delegate said he abstained from the vote because the draft includes a paragraph on Djibouti and Eritrea, when the conflict between the countries has been resolved and sanctions on Eritrea removed. He also objected to inclusion of human rights issues in the Somalia dossier and to the selective approach in managing illegal trade.
Responding to the Russian Federation, the representative of the United Kingdom agreed that sanctions had been lifted from Eritrea but there has been no progress in resolving outstanding issues between the countries. She lauded Somalia’s efforts to resolve issues related to the resolution, strongly supporting new measures to curb Al‑Shabaab’s finances.
The speaker for the United States welcomed the renewed sanctions and supported the increased focus on combating Al‑Shabaab’s exploitation of Somalia’s financial system.
Somalia’s delegate expressed regret that important issues were left out of the draft, emphasizing his country’s opposition to continued sanctions. Stressing that Al‑Shabaab remains a huge threat to Somalia, he urged the international community to address root causes as well as assist with security and institution‑building.
The meeting began at 10:11 a.m. and ended at 10:26 a.m.