A United Nations panel of experts should be set up in Nairobi to strengthen the international arms embargo against Somalia, which remains an “excellent” location for use by terrorists, according to a new report to the Security Council released today at UN Headquarters in New York.
The report by the two-member team details the affect of Somalia’s instability on the region, and stresses that countries sharing its borders have a key role to play in halting illicit arms shipments there. “These countries all regard the internal security situation in Somalia as a current threat to their national security,” the experts state, recommending “in the short-term, the effectiveness of the embargo can be enhanced through direct intervention with the States neighbouring Somalia.”
Providing details of sanctions violations, the report notes that armed groupings in Somalia take advantage of regional illicit arms trafficking networks. “Individuals may bring small numbers of weapons – perhaps just one weapon or up to five or six – along with them when returning to Somalia, often on board dhows that move goods and people through the local seaways to ports all along the coast of Somalia,” the experts write. Donkeys are also used to transport weapons, and those means are also used to smuggle other goods “such as endangered wildlife species, drugs and ivory.”
As a “failed State” which has not had a functioning central Government since 1991, Somalia is appealing for hard-to-trace financial transactions and transhipments of goods and personnel. “Once a payment for arms consignment has been routed through a remittance company, it becomes extremely difficult to trace,” the experts note, pointing out that one such company, Al Barakat, “has come to Interpol notice on suspicion of financing terrorism.”
“Though Somalia is not a particularly attractive site for a fixed base of operations for al-Qaida, or for that matter for any other transnational terrorist network, it remains an excellent location for short-term transhipment and transit operations by all sorts of criminal and terrorist groups,” warn the experts, who were appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Under a resolution adopted by the Security Council in May, which requested the report, the Panel of Experts would be charged with pursing “any sources that might reveal information related to violations, including relevant States, intergovernmental organizations and international law enforcement cooperation bodies, non-governmental organizations, financial institutions and intermediaries, other brokering agencies, civil aviation companies and authorities, members of the Transitional National Government, local authorities, political and traditional leaders, civil society and the business community.”
The Security Council first imposed the arms embargo against Somalia in 1992 with a view to establishing peace and stability in the country.