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Experts recommend UN sanctions for violators of arms embargo in Somalia

Experts recommend UN sanctions for violators of arms embargo in Somalia

After finding a consistent pattern of breaches of the arms embargo against Somalia, a United Nations expert panel has recommended that the Security Council send a clear signal that all future violators will be sanctioned.

"As the arms embargo has been consistently violated since its imposition, it has no normative value, and none of the Somali faction leaders or their regional sponsors has been held accountable; a feeling that 'business as usual' will continue indefinitely prevails," the three-person panel says in a report to the Council issued today.

The panel mandated to collect information on arms embargo violations in Somalia says effective enforcement of the ban not only requires interdiction of arms shipmenst, but also preventing all commercial relationships that may be linked to arms purchasing. It recommends sanctions designed to improve export controls and deprive embargo violators of the financial, travel and diplomatic privileges they currently enjoy.

"The dismissive attitude to resolutions of the Security Council will continue to prevail if the international community does not show resolve in implementing a strict embargo regime or remain vigilant in investigating new violations of the embargo," the report states. "It is the opinion of the Panel that the sanctions regime should be enhanced and implemented with increased determination."

The Panel says even after the signing of the Eldoret Declaration, most factions have continued to fight and import or receive weapons. Somali leaders who participated in last year’s conference in Eldoret, Kenya, rededicated themselves to the search for peace.

The group also states that the arms market in Somalia was not supplied by local elements only, but also external sources. It cites Ethiopia as one country that has played an overt military role in Somalia. Eritrea is also said to have been a major supplier of arms and ammunition. Yemen and Djibouti, among other nations in the region, are reported to have helped provide weapons to Somalia, mainly to the Transitional National Government.

"An effective implemented arms embargo can cut the flow of arms to Somali and concomitantly limit the level of armed conflict. This may then create the political space necessary for the successful completion and implementation of a Somali peace agreement," the panel says.

To enable it to conclude its work, the Panel proposes the extension of its mandate for six months.