The UN Security Council Resolution 2102 of 2 May 2013 which established the UNSOM also provided the Mission with a strong human rights mandate. The mandate authorizes UNSOM to monitor, help investigate and report to the Council on human rights and help prevent any abuses and/or violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by all actors in Somalia. The mandate envisions the deployment of human rights officers for these purposes.
Resolution 2102 and subsequent resolutions have emphasized the importance of UNSOM’s adherence, monitoring and support to the implementation of the UN Secretary-General’s Human Rights and Due Diligence Policy (HRDDP) and the United Nations Zero-Tolerance Policy on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.
The Security Council’s Resolutions 2036 (2012), 2093 (2013), 2124 (2013), 2232 (2015), and 2245 (2015) have affirmed that any support provided by the UN to non-UN security forces, including the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Somali National Army (SNA) and the Somali Police Force, shall be in full compliance with the HRDDP.
In addition, UNSOM has been mandated to help build the capacity of the Government on human rights, child protection, fighting conflict-related sexual violence, and support to the strengthening of rule of law and implementation of the action plans on human rights, children and armed conflict and the National Plan on ending sexual violence in conflict.
UNSOM’s Human Rights and Protection Group (HRPG) discharges the Mission’s human rights and protection mandate. This includes women’s protection and children protection advisors/units.
In the implementation of this mandate, the HRPG covers most regions of Somalia through its field offices. Currently, there are offices in Mogadishu, Garowe, Hargeisa, Baidoa, Kismaayo and Beledweyne which have human rights officers tasked with monitoring human rights and working with the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and the Federal Member States (FMS) to strengthen their capacity to respect, promote and protect human rights.
HRPG’s priorities include:
- Attacks against civilians and civilian objects
- Extra-Judicial Executions
- Arbitrary Arrest and Detentions
- Death Penalty
- Conflict-Related Sexual Violence and Gender-Based Violence
- Human Rights in Election Monitoring
- Freedom of Expression
- Rights of internally displaced persons
- Reinforcing human rights in Development and Humanitarian Agendas
Support for the Government
Somalia faces serious human rights challenges after nearly three decades of conflict. One of the main issues is the lack of a national human rights protection mechanism to respond to the various human rights challenges facing the country.
To address this, HRPG provides advice and technical support to the FGS and the FMS to meet their obligations to respect, protect, and fulfil the rights and freedoms of all in Somalia as enshrined in the Provisional Constitution of 2012 and other international laws to which Somalia is a party.
The collaboration between UNSOM and the FGS in the area of human rights has been in the framework of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process and in the implementation of the Post Transition Human Rights Roadmap (HRRM) endorsed by the FGS in August 2013.
The Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development leads in the advocacy and implementation of Somalia’s human rights commitments, including the recommendations of the UPR and for the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Somalia, as well as the HRRM. With UNSOM’s support, the FGS submitted its first UPR mid-term report to the Human Rights Council (HRC).
In collaboration with partners, HRPG assisted Somalia in its preparation, submission and participation in the UPR process in 2015 and 2016, which resulted in an outcome report with recommendations to improve the human rights situation in the country. UNSOM with other partners supported the Federal Parliament to develop a law for the establishment of the Independent National Human Rights Commission, in line with international standards, including Paris Principles on national human rights institutions. Following the enactment, UNSOM provided support to the FGS to initiate the Commission’s establishment process and the list of candidates identified is currently pending Cabinet approval.
At the regional level, UNSOM supported the establishment of the Office of Human Rights Defender (OHRD) in Puntland in early 2015. As part of its advocacy efforts for the establishment of the OHRD, UNSOM held a round table discussion with international partners working in the area of human rights and agreed to work with the government on setting up the OHRD. The OHRD is now functional and has contributed significantly in the promotion and protection of human rights in Puntland. OHRD continues to monitor human rights and conducts outreach. Since 2016, the OHRD has continued to publish annual reports on the situation of human rights in Puntland. UNSOM also supports the Somaliland National Human Rights Commission in capacity-building and monitoring.
Somalia ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2015 and 2019, respectively. The plans to implement and report on the implementation of these and other conventions with the support of UNSOM are in progress.
Strengthening Security Forces Compliance with Human Rights Standards and Norms
Many human rights violations committed during more than two decades of conflict have been attributed to the security forces, including militias who have committed these violations with impunity.
In order to strengthen compliance within the security forces, UNSOM is working with the SNA, the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), the European Union Training Mission, AMISOM and other partners to provide training to Somali security forces on their understanding of and compliance with human rights standards in their day-to-day operations. The human rights training for the SNA is a requirement for UN support to the national army. As of 2018, more than 10,000 SNA soldiers had been trained on human rights and international humanitarian law issues.
To improve AMISOM troops’ compliance with international human rights law and international humanitarian law in the execution of their duties in Somalia, UNSOM, in coordination with the UN Support Office for Somalia (UNSOS) Training Unit, and AMISOM has been supporting pre-deployment training on human rights for AMISOM troops, whose responsibility has now been transferred to Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) and Police Contributing Countries (PCCs) with some oversight on the delivery at the country levels.
The HRPG also worked with Bancroft International in the implementation of the Law Enforcement and Human Rights programme for the Somali Police Force. In 2015 and 2016, 120 officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and the Mine and Unexploded Ordinance Department benefited from six trainings held in Mogadishu. More police officers have been trained in the framework of HRDDP and other collaboration mechanisms between UNSOM and other stakeholders.
Human Rights Due Diligence Policy (HRDDP)
On 13 July 2011, the UN Secretary-General endorsed the HRDDP on UN support to non-UN security forces. This policy ensures that the UN lives up to its own normative standards by guaranteeing that its support to non-UN security forces around the world is consistent with the organization’s Charter and its obligations under international law to respect, promote and encourage respect for international humanitarian law, international human rights law and refugee law.
The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the implementation of HRDDP in Somalia was adopted in 2014 and revised in 2018. The SOP provides guidance and creates structures for the implementation of the policy in Somalia, such as the UN-AMISOM Joint Working Group on HRDDP and the UN-HRDDP Task Force. These mechanisms have been instrumental in the implementation of HRDDP. After more than two years of implementation of the policy, there have been achievements, challenges and critical lessons learnt.
Monitoring and Reporting on the Situation of Human Rights
UNSOM continues with its regular monitoring and reporting obligations within the country, with a special focus on the violations and abuses resulting from acts and omissions by national and regional authorities. HRPG also monitors and reports on allegations of violations and abuses by parties to the ongoing conflict in the country in which Somali security forces, AMISOM and Al-Shabaab are key parties. Key areas of focus include the situation of Children Associated with Armed Conflict and Conflict-Related Sexual Violence. The HRPG also collaborates with UN agencies, funds and programmes as a member of the UN Country Team.
Engaging Civil Society and Other Partners
Somalia’s civil society organizations (CSOs) continue to play a pivotal role in the country’s democratic transition. Despite the multiple challenges and risks they face, CSOs have been in the forefront of combatting impunity and strengthening accountability and the rule of law in Somalia.
HRPG engages civil society groups on a regular basis to sustain dialogue and contribute to reconciliation and nation-building efforts. UNSOM supports CSOs’ engagement with the FGS and other authorities to raise concerns about impunity, accountability and the rule of law.
HRPG has supported a Civil Society Forum, which convenes bi-monthly to discuss human rights issues and capacity-building. Through the forum, UNSOM seeks to contribute towards building the capacity of CSOs working on human rights issues, coordination and enhancement of their work.
UNSOM facilitates discussions and consultations for civil society organizations to help them better engage with Somali government institutions and the international human rights community for the promotion of human rights. In 2015, UNSOM facilitated the participation of 100 CSOs operating in south-central Somalia, Puntland and Somaliland, in consultations for the development of the CSOs’ report for the UPR process.
These organizations are currently being supported on various partners to contribute to the implementation of UPR commitments, including through the UN Joint Programme on Human Rights, spearheaded by the Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development.
UNSOM has also been working with CSOs, and has trained some of them, to strengthen their capacity for monitoring and reporting on human rights in the country. Since access is restricted because of the security situation, human rights CSOs have played a vital role in support of UNSOM’s mandate to monitor and report on human rights violations and abuses, particularly in remote areas.
The collaboration with CSOs allows UNSOM to reach important segments of the Somali public including youth, students, and internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Engagement with Other Governments and Diplomatic Missions/Mechanisms
HRPG continued to participate in the activities of the Nairobi-based Somalia Human Rights Working Group comprising the European Union and its Member States, Norway, Switzerland and the United States. HRPG uses the platform to advocate, lobby and support the FGS for improved human rights promotion and protection.
UNSOM continues to work very closely with the Independent Expert on the Human Rights Situation in Somalia, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Council in sustaining their efforts for the promotion and protection of human rights in Somalia.
Joint Programme on Human Rights (JPHR)
HRPG, in partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) developed a Joint Programme on Human Rights (JPHR) that is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development.
The JPHR aims to strengthen the implementation of Somalia’s human rights commitments and has contributed to the implementation of the UPR and the HRRM, the National Action Plan on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict (CRSV) and the Action Plan on Children and Armed Conflict. Additionally, the nexus between human rights and security is being strengthened through positioning human rights at the centre of the security institutional reforms, legislation and policies, reinforced by accountability measures.