New UN Assistance Mission in Somalia

The United Nations confirmed their commitment for the future of Somalia by establishing a new fully integrated assistance mission, UNSOM. The mission will start deploying in June 2013, for an initial period of one year. For a background on the debate which preceeded the Security Council decision, see our previous post here as well as additional reporting on What’s in Blue.

A view of Mogadishu's Old Town - Courtesy of Clar Ni Changhaile - The Guardian

A view of Mogadishu’s Old Town – Courtesy of Clar Ni Changhaile – The Guardian

UNSOM’s mandate focuses on governance, security sector reform, disengagement of combatants, development of a federal system, preparations for elections in 2016, and coordination of international donor support. Notably, it also contains a strong component of rule of law and human rights elements. UMSOM, to be headquartered in Mogadishu, would help build the Federal Government’s capacity to promote respect for human rights and women’s empowerment, promote child protection, prevent conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, and strengthen justice institutions. Further, it would monitor, help investigate and report on any abuses or violations of human rights or of international humanitarian law committed in Somalia, or any abuses committed against children or women. In addition, UNSOM will also work  towards the implementation of the Somali Maritime Security Strategy and work with Somali authorities on maritime challenges, including capacity-building and development.

While the UN mantained a presence in Somalia for the past 15 years, the approval of the new assistance mission is another sign of the UN growing engagement in Somalia. Following the downfall of Siad Barre in 1991, the UN unsuccefully deployed a peacekeeping presence in the country from 1992 to 1995, with the UNOSOM I and II missions. Earlier this year, the UN approved the extension of the AU-backed AMISOM peacekeeping mission for another year  and partially lifted the 20-year arms embargo imposed on the country. AMISON will play a fundamental role in the operation of UNSOM, particularly by ensuring the necessary levels of safety and security in the country. Last week, the UN also approved a package of projects in support of anti-piracy efforts in Somalia and other affected States in the region, including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Maldives and the Seychelles.

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