Sustaining peace is a relatively new term to describe how the different parts of the United Nations should work together, with ownership by national stakeholders and the support of a wide range of partners, to try to ensure that peace is lasting. It was defined in Security Council resolution 2282 of 27 April 2016, including “activities aimed at preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict, addressing root causes, assisting parties to conflict to end hostilities, ensuring national reconciliation and moving towards recovery, reconstruction and development”. In the second installment in our series on the work of Special Political Missions, we look at how the work done in Somalia, and specifically in the city of Gaalkacyo, illustrates what that means in real life.
The Situation in Gaalkacyo
Control over the divided city of Gaalkacyo, in north-central Somalia, has been fiercely contested by competing administrations for years now. The Puntland and Galmudug state administrations control the northern and southern sections of the city, respectively. Recurring cycles of violence since November 2015 have had a significant impact on the population, with a number of human rights violations and large-scale displacement reported. The most recent clashes, in October 2016, resulted in the death of 45 people and the displacement of over 85,000 city residents. Instability in the area has created an opportunity for al-Shabaab to exploit. After the latest round of violence, the United Nations Assistance Mission to Somalia (UNSOM) strengthened its support to achieve a cessation of hostilities and ensure that Galmudug and Puntland authorities fulfil their responsibility to protect the population in Gaalkacyo.
After the latest outbreak of violence, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia, Michael Keating, led an international delegation to Gaalkacyo to help warring parties reach a political solution. Shortly after, the Gaalkacyo Ceasefire Group Advisory Team, composed of officials from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and UNSOM’s Political Affairs and Mediation Group (PAMG) and Rule of Law and Security Institutions Group (ROLSIG), was deployed to advise a Joint Ceasefire Committee (JCC) - made of Puntland and Galmudug representatives - in sustaining the ceasefire. The international non-governmental organization Interpeace provided logistical and technical support to the ceasefire committee with funds from the UN Development Programme.
These efforts paved the way for the three-point agreement reached by the Puntland and Galmudug state presidents on 1 January 2017. The agreement stipulated a withdrawal of forces from the disputed city, the removal of all roadblocks to allow free movement of people and goods, and the introduction of joint police training and patrols. “PAMG and the UNSOM Puntland Area Office advised different levels of authorities and influential figures including women to generate momentum toward the implementation of the agreement, and our effort will continue,” notes UNSOM Political Advisor Ilham Gassar.
Joint Police Patrols
A key component of the renewed commitment to a cessation of hostilities was the implementation of joint training of police from North and South Gaalkacyo to strengthen security and build trust and cooperation. UNSOM Police, reinforced with additional police advisors from the Police Division’s Standing Police Capacity in Brindisi and working closely with PAMG, facilitated a Joint Patrol Training course in July and August 2016. Delivered by police officers with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the training sought to promote trust and confidence in Gaalkacyo by preparing a group of 100 selected police officers from Galmudug and Puntland for the launch of joint police patrols in Gaalkacyo under common command.
“The joint police patrols in Gaalkacyo are an example of how the New Policing Model is implemented on the ground,” says UNSOM Police Commissioner Christoph Buik. “Both the Galmudug and Puntland State Police put into practice principles of cross-border operational cooperation, solidarity and daily information sharing.” The New Policing Model was approved by Somalia’s National Leadership Forum in 2016 and endorsed in the country’s 2017 Security Pact. The Model provides an organizational structure of police agencies at the federal government and federal member state levels that will report to their respective federal and state-level ministries of internal security.
Sustaining Peace: The Way Forward
United Nations efforts have played a vital role in defusing tensions in Gaalkacyo and providing space for the community to rebuild. Sustaining peace in Gaalkacyo will require coherent and long-term support to build the capacity of Somali institutions to deliver good governance and strengthen the rule of law. UNSOM continues to support steps to prevent another relapse into conflict. PAMG will continue to work with different levels of authorities and non-state actors to help them fully implement the previous agreements and bring a political solution to the ongoing dispute over the city. UNSOM and AMISOM Police will start training an additional 100 police officers from Puntland and Galmudug in October. The expanded joint police unit will be in charge of patrolling outside of the buffer zones separating security forces of the two states.
“The UN and international partners have supported the combined efforts of the Federal Government, officials from Puntland and Galmudug, civil society and affected communities to avert a fresh outbreak of major violence in Gaalkacyo,” said SRSG Keating. “I hope that joint police patrols in the city will boost the credibility of authorities and go some way to promoting greater trust between parties. This initiative marks a small but important step towards definitively resolving this conflict, for the benefit of all Gaalkacyo’s residents.”
Title picture: Abdihakim Omar Amey, the Puntland Vice President, and Mohamed Hashi Abdi, the Galmudug Vice President, cut a ribbon during the opening ceremony for a joint police training exercise in Puntland and Galmudug held in Gaalkacyo, Somalia. UN Photo/Omar Abdisalan