After 12 years of bungled peace and state building process, the UN Security Council (UNSC) asked the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) to achieve “sovereign capabilities” in one year in order to graduate from the impositions of Chapter VII and Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, end the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by the end of December 2024, lift the arms embargo, and fulfill the Somali aspirations for secure, stable, peaceful, united, democratic, and prosperous Somalia standing on its feet.
Sovereign capability, associated with the concept of “self-sufficiency,” means “the ability to ensure, under full national control and without reliance on any direct foreign assistance, the execution and sustainment of national security and defense objectives.”
The security objectives encompass all other national objectives. Unfortunately, Somalia wasted time and resources for becoming worth of sovereign state that has all necessary capabilities. The fast-approaching deadline to achieve sovereign capabilities by mid-2024 should worry the Somali leaders and every Somali citizen concerned with the future of his or her country.
In the case of Somalia, the overlooked features for the status of sovereign capabilities are the commitment to national unity, the respect of the rule of law, the completion of the provisional constitution, and the strengthening of public confidence in government through “just administrative decisions that are lawful, reasonable, and conducted in a procedurally fair manner.” The activities for achieving sovereign capabilities are laid out in:
- the Provisional Federal Constitution;
- the federal government’s program approved by the federal parliament;
- the directives in the Resolutions and Presidential Statements of the UNSC;
- the economic management program underpinning the Debt Relief Initiative (HIPC);
- Somalia’s Transition Plan (STP) developed for the exit of the African Union peace and security Forces after 16 years of presence in Somalia;
- The settlement of the status of the North West Regions (Somaliland) of Federal Republic of Somalia (FRS);
- the National Security Architecture;
- the Justice and Correction reform plan;
- the Guidelines for the preparation of credible free and fair one vote one person election system.
In nutshell, the sovereign capabilities are manifested in the establishment and performance of federal, state, and local institutions capable of carrying out effectively and efficiently the state functions in compliance with the rule of law throughout the country. The synergic and systematic working relationship between the FGS and the Federal Member States (FMS) represents the first step for achieving sovereign capabilities. Political disagreements prevent such healthy intergovernmental relations.
Although the FRS remains practically fragmented, internationally, the FGS is recognized as legitimate government representing Somalia as one country one people that is part of the world and the international community. This special privilege should have motivated the Somali leaders and the elite to expedite the political, social, economic, and security integration of the country through genuine dialogue and consensus translated into strong national institutions.
Unfortunately, the experiences of 2020 and 2021deepened the state fragmentation and political narcissism that perverted the Somali political culture. Narcissism is a personality trait which combines selfishness, a feeling of entitlement, demand for admiration, and lack of empathy. Narcissists have fragile self-confidence, a divided self that vacillate between self-inflation and inferiority, and sense of revenge of power. Political Narcissists have to be disdained and marginalized.
The UNSC, acting under the authority of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, issued 13-page Resolution S/RES/2628/2022 of March 31, 2022 to direct the Somali authorities to undertake long list of political, legal, security and administrative actions before the exit of AMISOM, renamed (ATMIS) forces from Somalia on December 31, 2024. After that date, the FGS assumes the responsibilities of protecting the Somali state and people.
It’s worth quoting below a critical passage of the Resolution, which illustrates the themes for gaining sovereign capabilities:
“Recognizing that military action alone will not be sufficient to resolve threats to peace and security in Somalia, emphasizing that the protection of civilians is critical to build sustainable peace, and reiterating the need to pursue A HOLISTIC APPROACH that reinforces the foundations of peace and stability, …. through enhancing:
- Effective governance and public administration,
- Preventing organized crimes
- The rule of law
- Justice and law enforcement
- Efforts to counter terrorism,
- Efforts to promote terrorist disengagement and defections
- Preventing and countering violent extremism conducive to terrorism
- Security sector reform
- Inclusive politics and reconciliation.”
Each theme involves infrastructural structure, policies, laws, rules, procedures, practices, transparency and accountability.
To ensure a fully functioning federal system which is now in question, the resolution urges the FGS and FMS to collaborate effectively and efficiently on all national priorities for the benefit of all Somalis. As logical step to this regard, the resolution underscores the urgent need to finalize the constitution as the legal and political foundation for Somalia’s government and institutions.
The resolution authorizes the recruitment of new security forces totaling 22,825 cadets by the end of June 2024, subject to appropriate vetting procedure and the establishment of civilian oversight and accountability of the security and defense apparatus. Although the FGS is at serious capacity disadvantage to collaborate and coordinate with multiple international partners that have different, sometimes conflicting political and cultural interests and priorities, the collaboration and coordination between the FGS and International partners remain vital.
On December 22, 2022, the World Bank approved $75 million project, titled “Somalia Enhancing Public Resource Management Project (SERP),” with the aim of building state legitimacy, strengthening accountability, transparency and reducing institutional fragmentation required for delivery of services to the Somali citizens. Performance of public administration is far from acceptable level. Meetings of the sectoral Ministries of the FGS and FMS are frequent without clear rule based functional integration.
As show of intergovernmental relationship, the Ministry of Finance publishes at the end of each month a consolidated fiscal budget data of the federal government and five FMS – Puntland, Galmudug, Hirshabelle, Jubbaland, and Southwest. It’s sad to note that data from Puntland are not included in the consolidation data of the month of May 2023.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (HSM) travelled to New York, USA to address the UNSC meeting of June 22, 2023 on Somalia, chaired by the State Minister of the Ministry of foreign affairs of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He appealed for the lifting of arms embargo in place since 1992 as a necessary condition to effectively defeat terrorist group Al Shabab and to build a peaceful and prosperous future for Somalia.
In reaction, Voice of America (VOA) and Hiraal Institute published two articles under the titles: 1. Somalia Appeals for Removal of Arms embargo; and 2. Locked and Loaded: The Dangers of Prematurely Lifting the Somali Arms Embargo. Both articles highlighted the risks associated with the premature lifting of arms embargo on the following grounds. First, based on the deep-seated clan loyalty in the Somali society and the lack of integration of Somali National Army (SNA), lifting of arms embargo could fuel inter-clan conflicts; Second, the FGS lacks the authority and capacity to fully control all its borders or entry ports. Therefore, the risks for illicit entry of arms in the country are high and those illegal arms could end up in the hands of criminals and terrorists; third, the existence of open arms market in Somalia while the federal and state governments lack the capacity to monitor and trace; fourth, the potential instability in the neighboring countries of Somalia for the flows of illegal arms in Somalia.
Although the UNSC awaits from August to November 2023 several reports from the FGS, AU, and UN, and UN Secretary General, it seems that the observations in the VOA and Hiraal Institute articles have influenced the internal deliberations of the UNSC as can be inferred from its 8-page Resolution S/RES/2687 of 27 June 2023. The resolution reiterates the HOLIST GOVERNANCE APPROACH for achieving sovereign capabilities asked in the Resolution 2628 of March 31, 2022. In addition, it solicits the implementation of the National Security Architecture agreements in terms of budgeting, training, procurement, force integration and distribution between federal and states, proper management of weapons and ammunition at federal and state levels, the fight against illicit trade of arms and ammunition, and finally early stabilization and reconciliation of all areas liberated from Al Shabab, the meaningful participation of civil society in public policy discussions.
The Resolution encourages the UN member states to support Somalia with the establishment of maritime security, divided into coast guard, maritime police, and naval forces to reduce maritime crimes and prevent smuggling. To take advantage of this support, the FGS and FMS should resolve as quickly as possible all pending political and constitutional questions for united territory and people under the rule of democratic federal and state governments.
In the light of the above discussion, the FGS and FMS should pay close attention to the directives of the UNSC Resolutions and the perilous transition from shared sovereignty situation under chapter VII and VIII to fully fledged sovereignty situation sustained by sovereign capabilities. The danger of falling short of the target is high.
Dr. Mohamud M. Uluso