Somalia Exits UN Assistance Mission to Pursue UN Security Council Membership

In Mogadishu – The Somali administration has urged the termination of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) by October 2024 to secure a spot on the UN Security Council and manage its security independently.

Somali Foreign Minister Ahmed Mali Fiqi presented a comprehensive letter to the UN Security Council, stating that it is time for a shift in the partnership. “We believe the time has come to move forward to the next stage of our collaboration,” Fiqi expressed, calling for a swift closure of the mission at the end of its mandate.

This request follows the announcement by Catriona Laing, the United Nations Special Representative to Somalia, that her term would conclude on May 21, 2024. António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, assigned Laing in 2023.

Laing’s tenure as UN Special Representative in Somalia was notably briefer than her predecessors, with service lasting up to three years. The reasons behind her early departure remain unclear.

This appeal coincides with Somalia’s ongoing battle against the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab militant faction amid a persistent jihadist insurgency. Despite these security hurdles, the Somali government contends that the specialized political mission, which counsels on governance, peacebuilding, and security reforms, is obsolete.

UNSOM has provided substantial guidance in Somalia, assisting the federal government and a 14,000-member African Union peacekeeping unit. This force, dubbed ATMIS, is slated to withdraw and return security responsibilities to Somali authorities by the year’s conclusion. The termination of UNSOM, established in 2013 and recurrently renewed by Security Council resolutions more than 15 times, signifies a pivotal moment in Somalia’s pursuit of self-reliance.

A UN Mission official emphasized Somalia’s dedication to global peace and security dialogues, highlighting the upcoming bid for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for the 2025-26 term. “The contest for the seat demonstrates Somalia’s active involvement in global discussions on peace and security,” noted the official.

In mid-February, the Somali government revealed that the African Union’s Executive Council had nominated Somalia as the exclusive East African contender for a non-permanent UN Security Council seat.

The UN has expressed its willingness to assist Somalia’s innovative approach. “We are prepared to comply with the council’s directives and are committed to cooperating and partnering with the federal administration,” the UN reaffirmed in an official statement.

Despite UNSOM’s significant role and impending modifications, various UN agencies, including humanitarian bodies, will persist in their operations in Somalia, delivering continuous aid for the country’s development and stabilization initiatives.

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