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Somalia

Last Updated: 28 June 2013

Mine Ban Policy

Mine ban policy overview

Mine Ban Treaty status

State Party as of 1 October 2012

Pro-mine ban UNGA voting record

Absent from the vote on Resolution 66/29 in December 2011

Participation in Mine Ban Treaty meetings

Attended the Eleventh Meeting of States Parties in November 2011 and intersessional Standing Committee meetings in May 2012

Key developments

Acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty on 16 April 2012

Background

The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of the Somali Republic was created under a 2004 charter and occupies Somalia’s seat at the UN. It has subsequently been engaged in various levels of armed conflict. Since early 2007, al-Shabaab (the Youth) and other armed groups have carried out attacks against TFG forces and the peacekeeping soldiers of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and engaged in intense fighting in Mogadishu in 2010 and 2011.

Policy

Somalia acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty on 16 April 2012 and the treaty entered into force for Somalia on 1 October 2012. Somalia is the 160th State Party; with its accession, all states in Sub-Saharan Africa are now States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty.

The Council of Ministers of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia formally approved accession to the Mine Ban Treaty on 5 April 2012 and the prime minister signed the instrument of accession four days later.[1]

Government officials have expressed support for the treaty on several occasions since the Mine Ban Treaty’s First Review Conference in November 2004, where Somalia’s prime minister announced the government’s intention to outlaw antipersonnel mines.[2] The Somalia Coalition to Ban Landmines continuously raised the need for Somalia to join the Mine Ban Treaty.

Somalia’s initial Article 7 report for the Mine Ban Treaty is due by 30 March 2013.

After not attending any Mine Ban Treaty meetings since 2005, Somalia participated as an observer in the Eleventh Meeting of States Parties in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in November 2011. Somalia also attended the treaty’s intersessional Standing Committee meetings in Geneva in May 2012.

Somalia was absent from the vote of UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution 66/29 on antipersonnel mines on 2 December 2011. It voted in favor of a similar annual resolution in 2010 and 2009, but was absent from the 2008 vote.

Somalia is a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Somalia is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Several Somali factions previously renounced use of antipersonnel mines by signing the Deed of Commitment administered by Geneva Call.[3] Most of the signatories that are still active are allied to the TFG.[4]

The Somalia Coalition to Ban Landmines has continued to engage on the Mine Ban Treaty with government officials as well as with the Somali National Mine Action Agency.

Production and stockpiling

Somalia has never been known to manufacture antipersonnel mines, but mines have been widely available. There is no information about possible stockpiles of antipersonnel mines held by government forces. Most factions involved in armed conflict in Somalia are believed to possess mines.[5] Demobilizing militias have previously turned in mines.[6]

In October 2011, two Ethiopian armed opposition groups travelling through Somalia from Eritrea were captured by a militia allied with the TFG. Antipersonnel mines, among other weapons, were seized from the combatants.[7]

Some of the armed groups in Somalia that signed the Geneva Call Deed of Commitment have pledged to undertake stockpile destruction and provide information on their stockpiles. In 2009, Mohamed Omar Habeeb “Dheere” of the Jowhar Administration informed Geneva Call that they only possessed antivehicle mines.[8] In 2009, the Somali National Front (SNF) told Geneva Call that its stockpiles had been moved to Dolow, Gedo region, and that it needed technical and financial support for their destruction.[9] In early 2010, the SNF informed Geneva Call that their stockpile had been looted by al-Shabaab militants.[10]

Two groups have surrendered mines for destruction. In 2009, United Somali Congress/Somali National Alliance (USC/SNA) chair Hussein Mohamed Farah Aideed informed Geneva Call that its stockpile mines were handed over to AMISOM in Mogadishu in early 2007 and destroyed.[11]

In 2008, Puntland Mine Action Center, with technical support from Mines Advisory Group (MAG), destroyed 48 stockpiled PMP-71 antipersonnel mines near Garowe on behalf of the Puntland authorities.[12] In 2009, police with technical support from MAG destroyed 78 P4 antipersonnel mines in Galkayo.[13] In February 2011, MAG destroyed 382 antipersonnel mines from unknown stockpiles at police stations in Puntland authorities.[14]

Previously, the Juba Valley Alliance and Rahanweyn Resistance Army stated to Geneva Call that they possessed antipersonnel mines, but have not revealed the types, the quantity, or any action taken to destroy them.[15]

Transfer

Between 2002 and 2006, the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia published a number of reports containing allegations of the transfer of antipersonnel and other mines from a number of countries, including States Parties Eritrea and Ethiopia, to various Somali combatants.[16] More recent reports have not contained new allegations.

Mines have been sold at arms markets in Somalia.[17] In June 2009, Reuters reported the continued sale of mines and other weapons at markets in Mogadishu.[18]

Use

There has been use of antipersonnel mines by various factions throughout past conflict in Somalia, but in recent years the Monitor has not identified any confirmed reports of new use of antipersonnel mines by government forces or any of the non-state armed groups (NSAGs) operating in the country.

NSAGs use improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in large numbers and media often refer to command-detonated IEDs and bombs as “landmines.”[19] Victim-activated mines and other explosive devices are prohibited by the Mine Ban Treaty, but command-detonated mines and devices are not. Monitor analysis of media reports indicates that most, if not all, of the recovered explosive weapons and explosive attacks attributed to mines involve command-detonated or time-detonated bombs. However, on 12 October 2011, TFG and AMISOM forces discovered a NSAG IED manufacturing facility in Mogadishu, after which UNMAS noted, “The presence of improvised pressure plates indicates that [Al-Shabaab] intends to employ Victim Operated IEDs, against vehicles or dismounted troops.”[20]

 



[2] In November–December 2004, then-Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi attended the First Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty in Nairobi as an observer, where he stated the TFG’s intention to outlaw antipersonnel mines. See, Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 869. At the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in June 2005, Somalia’s then-Deputy Prime Minister asserted the government’s resolve to accede to the treaty.

[3] Between 2002 and 2005, Geneva Call received signatures from 17 factions. See Landmine Monitor Report 2006, p. 1,064. In August 2009, Geneva Call informed the Monitor that eight signatories were no longer active. Email from Nicolas Florquin, Program Officer, Geneva Call, 26 August 2009.

[4] Geneva Call, “Non-State Actor Mine Action and Compliance to the Deed of Commitment Banning Anti-Personnel Landmines, January 2008 – June 2010,” 24 June 2010, p. 4.

[5] The former TFG Deputy Prime Minister told the Monitor in 2005 that he believed militias in Mogadishu alone held at least 10,000 antipersonnel mines. Interview with Hussein Mohamed Aideed, Deputy Prime Minister, in Geneva, 15 June 2005.

[6] Photographs of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration program available on the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) website in July 2009 showed mines and improvised explosive devices. See AMISOM, “Pictures of some collected/surrendered Weapons and Ammunitions to AMISOM,” undated, www.africa-union.org.

[7] On 31 October 2011, a combined group of fighters from the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) were captured after a clash near Seejo, in central Somalia with local militia from Ahlu Sunnawal Jama’a (ASWJ), a group nominally aligned with Somalia’s TFG. The ONLF and OLF combatants had reportedly undergone training in mine warfare in Eritrea prior to their capture. UNSC, “Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea pursuant to Security Council resolution 2002 (2011),” S/2012/545, 13 July 2012, http://bit.ly/NDIKeC.

[8] Email from Anne-Kathrin Glatz, Program Officer, Geneva Call, 27 July 2009.

[9] Ibid. Previously, in 2008, Geneva Call said that the SNF had reportedly completed an inventory of its stockpile and had approached UNDP in Baidoa to request technical assistance for stockpile destruction. Email from Pascal Bongard, Program Director, Geneva Call, 8 August 2008; and email from Katherine Kramer, Asia Programme Director, Geneva Call, 5 September 2008.

[10] Geneva Call, “Non-State Actor Mine Action and Compliance to the Deed of Commitment Banning Anti-Personnel Landmines, January 2008 – June 2010,” 24 June 2010, p. 4.

[11] Email from Anne-Kathrin Glatz, Geneva Call, 27 July 2009. The USC/SNA had previously stated it had 1,800 antipersonnel landmines in its stockpile. See Landmine Monitor Report 2007, p. 977.

[12] Geneva Call, “Somalia: Puntland authorities destroy anti-personnel mines,” Press release, 24 July 2008.

[13] MAG, “Somalia: Munitions stockpile clearance in Puntland,” 1 May 2009, www.maginternational.org.

[14] MAG, “Somalia: Largest haul of mines destroyed,” 17 February 2011, www.maginternational.org.

[15] Geneva Call, “Engaging Armed Non-State Actors in a Landmine Ban: The Geneva Call Progress Report (2000–2007),” November 2007, pp. 16–17. It is unclear if the stockpiled mines declared by the Juba Valley Alliance are antipersonnel or antivehicle. Email from Katherine Kramer, Geneva Call, 5 September 2008.

[16] See Landmine Monitor Report 2008, pp. 1,004–1,005; Landmine Monitor Report 2007, pp. 978–979; Landmine Monitor Report 2006, pp. 1,065–1,066; Landmine Monitor Report 2005, pp. 870–871; and Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1,112. In response to the claims by the UN Monitoring Group, the Presidents of the Seventh and Eighth Meetings of States Parties wrote to the chair of the group for clarification and further information, but did not receive responses.

[17] See Landmine Monitor Report 2008, pp. 1,003–1,005, for details including sellers and markets identified by the UN Monitoring Group.

[18] One arms dealer claimed to sell mines (type unspecified, but likely antivehicle) for approximately US$100 apiece. “Arms Trade-Dealers revel in Somali war business,” Reuters (Mogadishu), 9 June 2009, http://www.reuters.com/.

[19] According to a June 2011 UN Monitoring Group report, “Improvised explosive device technology in Somalia is relatively low-tech compared with other conflict arenas. The most common explosives used in attacks are TNT and RDX, which can be extracted from mortars and other high explosive artillery shells. More rudimentary improvised explosive devices include anti-tank mines and medium-to-high-caliber ammunition that can be altered for remote detonation. As for fragmentation improvised explosive devices, bomb makers lay 3-10 cm pieces of rebar, nuts and bolts, and ball bearings cast in resin on top of the explosive.” UN, Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea pursuant to Security Council resolution 1916 (2010), S/2011/433 18 July 2011, p. 45, para. 138. The UN Monitoring Group found that antivehicle mines were modified for remote detonation and deployed as IEDs in Somalia, sometimes with additional metal objects (bolts, metal filings) welded to the casing to enhance the fragmentation effect. UN, “Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia pursuant to Security Council resolution 1853 (2008),” S/2010/91, 10 March 2010, p. 50, para. 174. See, for example, recovery of ‘landmines’ by AU forces: AbdulkadirKhalif, “Amisom forces uncover buried explosives,” Daily Monitor, 19 December 2011, http://bit.ly/tb7CPm; and “Somalia: Landmine Blast Rocks Ethiopian Convoy in Beledweyne, Central Region,” Shabelle Media Network, 14 May 2012, http://bit.ly/JOHMHv.

[20] UNSC, “Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritreapursuant to Security Council resolution 2002 (2011),” S/2012/545, 13 July 2012, para. 21, p. 167, http://bit.ly/NDIKeC. Citing an unpublished UNMAS report “Confirmed Find of Bomb Making Equipment – 12 October 2011,” UNMAS report, 13 October 2011.