The Security Council today renewed for another year its authorization for international naval forces to join in fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia, stressing that while the threat of such crime had declined, it still remained a matter of grave concern.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2316 (2016) and again affirming the primary responsibility of Somali authorities in the effort, the Security Council renewed the call upon States and regional organizations that were able to do so to cooperate with those authorities and each other in deploying naval vessels and military aircraft, by providing logistical support, and by seizing and disposing of boats, arms and related equipment reasonably suspected to be used in piracy and armed robbery in the area.
Acknowledging a steady decline in attacks since 2011, the Council commended the contributions of the European Union’s Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) Operation ATALANTA, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Operation Ocean Shield, the Combined Maritime Forces’ Combined Task Force 151, the African Union and the Southern Africa Development Community, as well as individual States for naval counter-piracy missions and protecting ships transiting through the region.
Noting with concern the continuing gap in domestic capacity and legal frameworks for the detention and prosecution of suspected pirates and those who profited from the crimes, the Council recognized the continued need for national legislative action and international capacity-building assistance in that regard.
In the preambular section of the text, the Security Council also expressed serious concern over reports of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Somalia’s exclusive economic zone and, noting a complex relationship between such activity and piracy, recognized that it accounted for millions in lost revenue for the country and could contribute to destabilization of coastal communities.
The Council reaffirmed that the authorizations renewed in the resolution applied only with respect to the situation in Somalia and did not affect rights, obligations and responsibilities of Member States under international law, including the Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Following the adoption, Mohamed Rabi A. Yusuf, representative of Somalia, thanked the Security Council for its valuable support to his country in all areas, including addressing piracy, and asked for continued support from the international community. He noted the recognition of the Secretary-General’s report that a lack of economic opportunity in the country was one of the triggers of piracy.
Welcoming today’s adoption and assuring the Council his Government’s full cooperation with its provisions, he expressed appreciation of the acknowledgement that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing resulted in loss of revenue and could lead to destabilisation along the coast.
The meeting started at 3:05 p.m. and adjourned at 3:10 p.m.
The full text of resolution 2316 (2016) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Recalling its previous resolutions concerning the situation in Somalia, especially resolutions 1814 (2008), 1816 (2008), 1838 (2008), 1844 (2008), 1846 (2008), 1851 (2008), 1897 (2009), 1918 (2010), 1950 (2010), 1976 (2011), 2015 (2011), 2020 (2011), 2077 (2012) 2125 (2013), 2184 (2014), and 2246 (2015) as well as the Statement of its President (S/PRST/2010/16) of 25 August 2010 and (S/PRST/2012/24) of 19 November 2012,
“Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General (S/2016/843), as requested by resolution 2246 (2015), on the implementation of that resolution and on the situation with respect to piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia,
“Reaffirming its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence, and unity of Somalia, including Somalia’s sovereign rights in accordance with international law, with respect to offshore natural resources, including fisheries,
“Noting that the joint counter-piracy efforts of States, regions, organizations, the maritime industry, the private sector, think tanks and civil society have resulted in a steady decline in pirate attacks as well as hijackings since 2011, and continuing to be gravely concerned by the ongoing threat that resurgent piracy and armed robbery at sea poses to the prompt, safe and effective delivery of humanitarian aid to Somalia and the region, to the safety of seafarers and other persons, to international navigation and the safety of commercial maritime routes, and to other ships, including fishing vessels operating in conformity with international law,
“Further reaffirming that international law, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 (“The Convention”), sets out the legal framework applicable to activities in the ocean, including countering piracy and armed robbery at sea,
“Recognizing the need to investigate and prosecute not only suspects captured at sea, but also anyone who incites or intentionally facilitates piracy operations, including key figures of criminal networks involved in piracy who plan, organize, facilitate, or illicitly finance or profit from such attacks, and reiterating its concern over persons suspected of piracy having been released without facing justice, reaffirming that the failure to prosecute persons responsible for acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia undermines anti-piracy efforts,
“Noting with concern that the continuing limited capacity and domestic legislation to facilitate the custody and prosecution of suspected pirates after their capture has hindered more robust international action against pirates off the coast of Somalia, which has led to pirates being released without facing justice, regardless of whether there is sufficient evidence to support prosecution, and reiterating that, consistent with the provisions of The Convention concerning the repression of piracy, the 1988 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation (“SUA Convention”) provides for parties to create criminal offences, establish jurisdiction, and accept delivery of persons responsible for, or suspected of seizing, or exercising control over, a ship by force or threat thereof, or any other form of intimidation,
“Underlining the primary responsibility of the Somali authorities in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, noting the several requests from Somali authorities for international assistance to counter piracy off its coast, including the letter of 24 October 2016, from the Charge d’affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Somalia to the United Nations expressing the appreciation of Somali authorities to the Security Council for its assistance, expressing their willingness to consider working with other States and regional organizations to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, asking member states and international organizations to support the Federal Government of Somalia in its efforts to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in its Exclusive Economic Zone, and requesting that the provisions of resolution 2246 (2015) be renewed for an additional twelve months,
“Welcoming the participation of the Federal Government of Somalia and regional partners in the 19th plenary session of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), hosted by the Seychelles in Victoria, Seychelles, May 31-June 3, 2016,
“Recognizing the work of the CGPCS and the Law Enforcement Task Force to facilitate the prosecution of suspected pirates, and of the Working Group on Capacity Building of the CGPCS to coordinate judicial, penal, and maritime capacity-building efforts to enable regional states to better tackle piracy,
“Welcoming the financing provided by the Trust Fund to Support Initiatives of States Combating Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (the Trust Fund) to strengthen regional ability to prosecute suspected pirates and imprison those convicted in accordance with applicable international human rights law, noting with appreciation the assistance provided by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Maritime Crime Programme, and being determined to continue efforts to ensure that pirates are held accountable,
“Commending the efforts of the EU Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) Operation ATALANTA, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Operation Ocean Shield, Combined Maritime Forces’ Combined Task Force 151, the counter-piracy activities of the African Union onshore in Somalia and the naval activities of the Southern Africa Development Community, and other States acting in a national capacity in cooperation with Somali authorities and each other to suppress piracy and to protect ships transiting through the waters off the coast of Somalia, and welcoming the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction Initiative (SHADE) and the efforts of individual countries, including China, India, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Republic of Korea, and the Russian Federation, which have deployed naval counter-piracy missions in the region,
“Noting the efforts of flag States for taking measures to permit vessels sailing under their flag transiting the High Risk Area (HRA) to embark vessel protection detachments and privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP), and to allow charters that favour arrangements that make use of such measures, while urging States to regulate such activities in accordance with applicable international law,
“Noting that HRA boundaries are set and defined by the insurance and maritime industry, and have been redefined in December 2015,
“Welcoming the capacity-building efforts in the region made by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) funded Djibouti Code of Conduct, the Trust Fund and the European Union’s activities under the EU Mission on Regional Maritime Capacity in the Horn of Africa (EUCAP Nestor), which is working with the Federal Government of Somalia to strengthen its criminal justice system, and recognizing the need for all engaged international and regional organizations to coordinate and cooperate fully,
“Supporting the development of a coastal police force, noting with appreciation the efforts made by the IMO and the shipping industry to develop and update guidance, best management practices, and recommendations to assist ships to prevent and suppress piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia, including in the Gulf of Aden, and in relevant parts of the Indian Ocean that are still within the High Risk Area and recognizing the work of the IMO and the CGPCS in this regard, noting the efforts of the International Organization for Standardization, which has developed industry standards of training and certification for Private Maritime Security Companies when providing PCASP on board ships in high-risk areas, and further welcoming the European Union’s EUCAP Nestor, which is working to develop the maritime security capacities of Somalia,
“Underlining the importance of continuing to enhance the collection, preservation, and transmission to competent authorities of evidence of acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, and welcoming the ongoing work of the IMO, INTERPOL, and industry groups to develop guidance to seafarers on preservation of crime scenes following acts of piracy, and noting the importance of enabling seafarers to give evidence in criminal proceedings to prosecute acts of piracy,
“Further recognizing that pirate networks continue to rely on kidnapping and hostage-taking to help generate funding to purchase weapons, gain recruits, and continue their operational activities, thereby jeopardizing the safety and security of civilians and restricting the flow of commerce, and welcoming international efforts to coordinate the work of investigators and prosecutors, inter alia, through the Law Enforcement Task Force and collect and share information to disrupt the pirate enterprise, as exemplified by INTERPOL’s Global Database on Maritime Piracy, and taking note of the ongoing efforts of the Regional Fusion and Law Enforcement Centre for Safety and Security at Sea, hosted by Seychelles to combat piracy and transnational organized crime,
“Reaffirming international condemnation of acts of kidnapping and hostage-taking, including offences contained within the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages, strongly condemning the continuing practice of hostage-taking by pirates operating off the coast of Somalia, expressing serious concern at the inhumane conditions hostages face in captivity, recognizing the adverse impact on their families, calling for the immediate release of all hostages, and noting the importance of cooperation between Member States on the issue of hostage-taking and the prosecution of suspected pirates for taking hostages,
“Commending Kenya, Mauritius, Tanzania, and Seychelles, for their efforts to prosecute suspected pirates in their national courts, and noting with appreciation the assistance provided by the UNODC Maritime Crime Programme, the Trust Fund, and other international organizations and donors, in coordination with the CGPCS, to support Kenya, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tanzania, Somalia, and other States in the region with their efforts to prosecute, or incarcerate in a third State after prosecution elsewhere, pirates, including facilitators and financiers ashore, consistent with applicable international human rights law, and emphasizing the need for States and international organizations to further enhance international efforts in this regard,
“Welcoming the readiness of the national and regional administrations of Somalia to cooperate with each other and with States who have prosecuted suspected pirates with a view to enabling convicted pirates to be repatriated back to Somalia under suitable prisoner transfer arrangements, consistent with applicable international law, including international human rights law, and acknowledging the return from Seychelles to Somalia of convicted prisoners willing and eligible to serve their sentences in Somalia,
“Welcoming the work of the Maritime Security Coordination Committee (MSCC), as an important mechanism of information sharing, and encouraging the Somali national and regional administrations to take increasing responsibility for counter-piracy initiatives,
“Expressing serious concern over reports of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) in Somalia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and noting the complex relationship between IUU fishing and piracy, recognizing that IUU fishing accounts for millions of dollars in lost revenue for Somalia each year, and can contribute to destabilization among coastal communities,
“Noting Somalia’s accession to the FAO’s Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, recognizing the projects supported by FAO and UNODC aimed at enhancing the Somalia’s capacity to combat such activities, and stressing the need for States and international organizations to further intensify their support to the Federal Government of Somalia, at its request, in enhancing Somalia’s capacity to combat such activities,
“Recognizing the ongoing efforts of the Federal Government of Somalia towards the development of a legal regime for the distribution of fishing licenses, and encouraging further efforts in this regard, with the support of the international community,
“Recalling the reports of the Secretary General which illustrate the seriousness of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia and provide useful guidance for the investigation and prosecution of pirates, including on specialized anti-piracy courts,
“Stressing the need for States to consider possible methods to assist the seafarers who are victims of pirates, and welcoming in this regard the efforts of the “Hostage Support Programme” and the Piracy Survivor Family Fund launched at the 2014 CGPCS to provide support to hostages during their release and return home, as well as to their families throughout the hostage situation,
“Recognizing the progress made by the CGPCS and UNODC in the use of public information tools to raise awareness of the dangers of piracy and highlight the best practices to eradicate this criminal phenomenon,
“Noting efforts by UNODC and UNDP and the funding provided by the Trust Fund, the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other donors to develop regional judicial and law enforcement capacity to investigate, arrest, and prosecute suspected pirates and to incarcerate convicted pirates consistent with applicable international human rights law,
“Bearing in mind the Djibouti Code of Conduct concerning the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, noting the operations of information-sharing centres in Yemen, Kenya, and Tanzania, recognizing the efforts of signatory States to develop the appropriate regulatory and legislative frameworks to combat piracy, enhance their capacity to patrol the waters of the region, interdict suspect vessels, and prosecute suspected pirates,
“Emphasizing that peace and stability within Somalia, the strengthening of State institutions, economic and social development, and respect for human rights and the rule of law are necessary to create the conditions for a durable eradication of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, and further emphasizing that Somalia’s long-term security rests with the effective development by Somali authorities of the Somali National Army and Somali Police Force,
“Welcoming the Padang Communique and Maritime Cooperation Declaration adopted by the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) at its 15th Council of Ministers meeting, which call upon members to support and strengthen cooperation to address maritime challenges including piracy and illegal trafficking of drugs, and welcoming Somalia’s October 2016 signing of the IORA charter to formally become a member State, thereby strengthening Somalia’s cooperation with its neighbours on maritime safety and security,
“Recognizing that the ongoing instability in Somalia and the acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off its coast are inextricably linked, and stressing the need to continue the comprehensive response by the international community to repress piracy and armed robbery at sea and tackle its underlying causes,
“Determining that the incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, as well as the activity of pirate groups in Somalia, are an important factor exacerbating the situation in Somalia, which continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region,
“Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,
“1. Reiterates that it condemns and deplores all acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia;
“2. While noting improvements in Somalia, recognizes that piracy exacerbates instability in Somalia by introducing large amounts of illicit cash that fuels additional crime and corruption;
“3. Stresses the need for a comprehensive response to prevent and suppress piracy and tackle its underlying causes by the international community;
“4. Underlines the primary responsibility of the Somali authorities in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, welcomes the draft coast guard law which the Somali authorities, with the support of the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) Operation Atalanta and EUCAP Nestor have submitted to the Council of Ministers for approval by Parliament and urges the Somali authorities, to continue their work to pass a comprehensive set of anti-piracy and maritime laws without further delay and establish security forces with clear roles and jurisdictions to enforce these laws and to continue to develop, with international support as appropriate, the capacity of Somali courts to investigate and prosecute persons responsible for acts of piracy and armed robbery, including key figures of criminal networks involved in piracy who plan, organize, facilitate, or illicitly finance or profit from such attacks;
“5. Recognizes the need to continue investigating and prosecuting those who plan, organize, or illicitly finance or profit from pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia, including key figures of criminal networks involved in piracy, urges States, working in conjunction with relevant international organizations, to adopt legislation to facilitate prosecution of suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia;
“6. Calls upon the Somali authorities to interdict, and upon interdiction to have mechanisms in place to safely return effects seized by pirates, investigate and prosecute pirates and to patrol the waters off the coast of Somalia to prevent and suppress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea;
“7. Calls upon the Somali authorities to make all efforts to bring to justice those who are using Somali territory to plan, facilitate, or undertake criminal acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, and calls upon Member States to assist Somalia, at the request of Somali authorities and with notification to the Secretary-General, to strengthen maritime capacity in Somalia, including regional authorities and, stresses that any measures undertaken pursuant to this paragraph shall be consistent with applicable international law, in particular international human rights law;
“8. Calls upon States to cooperate also, as appropriate, on the issue of hostage taking, and the prosecution of suspected pirates for taking hostages;
“9. Calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all seafarers held hostage by Somali pirates, and further calls upon the Somali authorities and all relevant stakeholders to redouble their efforts to secure their safe and immediate release;
“10. Welcomes the initiative of the Seychelles authorities to establish a court for piracy and maritime crime and further welcomes the successful prosecution of piracy cases by this body;
“11. Recognizes the need for States, international and regional organizations, and other appropriate partners to exchange evidence and information for anti-piracy law enforcement purposes with a view to ensuring effective prosecution of suspected, and imprisonment of convicted, pirates and with a view to the arrest and prosecution of key figures of criminal networks involved in piracy who plan, organize, facilitate, or illicitly finance and profit from piracy operations, and keeps under review the possibility of applying targeted sanctions against individuals or entities that plan, organize, facilitate, or illicitly finance or profit from piracy operations if they meet the listing criteria set out in paragraph 43 of resolution 2093 (2013), and calls upon all States to cooperate fully with the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group, including on information-sharing regarding possible violations of the arms embargo or charcoal ban;
“12. Renews its call upon States and regional organizations that are able to do so to take part in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, in particular, consistent with this resolution and international law, by deploying naval vessels, arms, and military aircraft, by providing basing and logistical support for counter-piracy forces, and by seizing and disposing of boats, vessels, arms, and other related equipment used in the commission of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, or for which there are reasonable grounds for suspecting such use;
“13. Highlights the importance of coordination among States and international organizations in order to deter acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, commends the work of the CGPCS to facilitate such coordination in cooperation with the IMO, flag States, and Somali authorities, and urges continued support of these efforts;
“14. Encourages Member States to continue to cooperate with Somali authorities in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea, notes the primary role of Somali authorities in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, and decides that, for a further period of twelve months from the date of this resolution to renew the authorizations as set out in paragraph 14 of resolution 2246 (2015) granted to States and regional organizations cooperating with Somali authorities in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, for which advance notification has been provided by Somali authorities to the Secretary-General;
“15. Affirms that the authorizations renewed in this resolution apply only with respect to the situation in Somalia and shall not affect the rights, obligations, or responsibilities of Member States under international law, including any rights or obligations under The Convention, with respect to any other situation, and underscores in particular that this resolution shall not be considered as establishing customary international law; and affirms further that such authorizations have been renewed based on the receipt of the 24 October 2016 letter conveying the consent of Somali authorities;
“16. Decides that the arms embargo on Somalia imposed by paragraph 5 of resolution 733 (1992) and further elaborated upon by paragraphs 1 and 2 of resolution 1425 (2002) and modified by paragraphs 33 to 38 of resolution 2093 does not apply to supplies of weapons and military equipment or the provision of assistance destined for the sole use of Member States, international, regional, and subregional organizations undertaking measures in accordance with paragraph 14 above;
“17. Requests that cooperating States take appropriate steps to ensure that the activities they undertake pursuant to the authorizations in paragraph 14 do not have the practical effect of denying or impairing the right of innocent passage to the ships of any third State;
“18. Calls upon all States, and in particular flag, port, and coastal States, States of the nationality of victims and perpetrators of piracy and armed robbery, and other States with relevant jurisdiction under international law and national legislation, to cooperate in determining jurisdiction and in the investigation and prosecution of all persons responsible for acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia, including key figures of criminal networks involved in piracy who plan, organize, facilitate, or illicitly finance or profit from such attack, consistent with applicable international law including international human rights law, to ensure that all pirates handed over to judicial authorities are subject to a judicial process, and to render assistance by, among other actions, providing disposition and logistics assistance with respect to persons under their jurisdiction and control, such as victims, witnesses, and persons detained as a result of operations conducted under this resolution;
“19. Calls upon all States to criminalize piracy under their domestic law and to favourably consider the prosecution of suspected, and imprisonment of those convicted, pirates apprehended off the coast of Somalia, and their facilitators and financiers ashore, consistent with applicable international law, including international human rights law, and decides to keep these matters under review, including, as appropriate, the establishment of specialized anti-piracy courts in Somalia with substantial international participation and/or support as set forth in resolution 2015 (2011), and encourages the CGPCS to continue its discussions in this regard;
“20. Welcomes, in this context, the UNODC Maritime Crime Programme’s continued work with authorities in Somalia and in neighbouring States to ensure that individuals suspected of piracy are prosecuted and those convicted are imprisoned in a manner consistent with international law, including international human rights law;
“21. Encourages the Federal Government of Somalia to accede to the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, as part of its efforts to target money laundering and financial support structures on which piracy networks survive;
“22. Urges all States to take appropriate actions under their existing domestic law to prevent the illicit financing of acts of piracy and the laundering of its proceeds;
“23. Urges States, in cooperation with INTERPOL and Europol, to further investigate international criminal networks involved in piracy off the coast of Somalia, including those responsible for illicit financing and facilitation;
“24. Urges all States to ensure that counter-piracy activities, particularly land-based activities, take into consideration the need to protect women and children from exploitation, including sexual exploitation;
“25. Urges all States to share information with INTERPOL for use in the global piracy database, through appropriate channels;
“26. Commends the contributions of the Trust Fund and the IMO-funded Djibouti Code of Conduct and urges both state and non-State actors affected by piracy, most notably the international shipping community, to contribute to them;
“27. Urges States parties to The Convention and the SUA Convention to implement fully their relevant obligations under these conventions and customary international law and to cooperate with the UNODC, IMO, and other States and international organizations to build judicial capacity for the successful prosecution of persons suspected of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia;
“28. Acknowledges the recommendations and guidance provided by the IMO on preventing and suppressing piracy and armed robbery at sea; and urges States, in collaboration with the shipping and insurance industries and the IMO, to continue to develop and implement avoidance, evasion, and defensive best practices and advisories to take when under attack or when sailing in the waters off the coast of Somalia, and further urges States to make their citizens and vessels available for forensic investigation as appropriate at the first suitable port of call immediately following an act or attempted act of piracy or armed robbery at sea or release from captivity;
“29. Encourages flag States and port States to further consider the development of safety and security measures on board vessels, including, where applicable, developing regulations for the use of PCASP on board ships, aimed at preventing and suppressing piracy off the coast of Somalia, through a consultative process, including through the IMO and ISO;
“30. Invites the IMO to continue its contributions to the prevention and suppression of acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships, in coordination, in particular, with the UNODC, the World Food Program (WFP), the shipping industry, and all other parties concerned, and recognizes the IMO’s role concerning privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships in high-risk areas;
“31. Notes the importance of securing the safe delivery of WFP assistance by sea, and welcomes the ongoing work by the WFP, EUNAVFOR Operation Atalanta, and flag States with regard to Vessel Protection Detachments on WFP vessels;
“32. Requests States and regional organizations cooperating with Somali authorities to inform the Security Council and the Secretary-General in nine months of the progress of actions undertaken in the exercise of the authorizations provided in paragraph 14 above and further requests all States contributing through the CGPCS to the fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia, including Somalia and other States in the region, to report by the same deadline on their efforts to establish jurisdiction and cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of piracy;
“33. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council within eleven months of the adoption of this resolution on the implementation of this resolution and on the situation with respect to piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia;
“34. Expresses its intention to review the situation and consider, as appropriate, renewing the authorizations provided in paragraph 14 above for additional periods upon the request of Somali authority;
“35. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”
Source: United Nations
President Trump’s humanitarian agenda
Foreign policy, development, and humanitarian aid have had little coverage in the US presidential campaign. However, the issues will still be in the in-tray of Donald J. Trump come January. Here are some of the most pressing:
Syria, Iraq and Yemen
Trump’s statements on the Middle East have been a mix of isolationism and promises to crush so-called Islamic State, making it unclear what he intends to do.
The president-elect has argued that deeper involvement in the Syrian war would cause “World War Three” and bring the US into direct conflict with Assad allies Iran and Russia. “The first thing we have to do is get rid of [IS] before we start thinking about Syria,” Trump has however argued. What that means for Syria and Iraq, where the battle against IS in Mosul is ongoing, is far from clear, as the next president has said his plans to fight the group are secret. Statements on his website make promises to work with Arab allies and friends in the Middle East to defeat the group and “pursue aggressive joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy [it]”.
Neither candidate has said much at all about the Middle East’s third major war and humanitarian catastrophe – Yemen – where the White House has said it’s reviewing support for the Saudi Arabian-led coalition’s air campaign against Houthi rebels. Trump has made comments suggesting he’s worried about Iranian influence in the region and Iran backs the Houthis to some extent, but with confusing statements like this one, it’s anyone’s guess what Trump intends to do.
The war in Afghanistan
Trump will inherit the longest war the US has ever fought – in Afghanistan. The US invaded in 2001, backing local forces to overthrow the Taliban, and still maintains about 10,000 troops there. Obama promised to end the war, but Afghanistan’s military has not been able to hold off an onslaught by the Taliban and other militant groups on its own, and the government has often been fragile almost to the point of collapse.
The US has spent more than $113 billion on reconstruction aid over the past 15 years in Afghanistan. That includes funding to build up the Afghan military, but it does not include the cost of the US military mission, which would push the bill to around one trillion dollars. Despite all the American money spent and lives lost, Afghanistan figured very little in the presidential campaign.
Neither candidate put forward a plan for Afghanistan. That may be because American politicians really have no idea how to extract their country from what increasingly looks like a quagmire with little chance of victory. Obama’s strategy – a surge of US troops to quell the insurgency, followed by a gradual withdrawal intended to leave the government able to stand on its own – has failed. Can Trump do any better?
It’s hard to view Trump’s election as anything but bad for the environment. On the “Energy” section of his website, Trump says he intends to “make America energy independent”. He would do this mainly by opening up new coal and oil fields, a strategy that seems to conflict with his goal to “protect clean air and clean water”.
In addition, Trump pledged to “open shale energy deposits” that could provide access to more oil and natural gas through “fracking”. The relatively new technique involves drilling into rock and injecting water, sand, and chemicals to force out gas or oil trapped inside. Fracking is widely used in North America, where it has created jobs and reduced dependence on foreign oil imports. But environmentalists point to a host of problems including: using huge quantities of water that are often diverted from elsewhere, the risk of pollution if chemicals contaminate groundwater sources, and a potential link with earthquakes. Critics also worry that increased investment in traditional energy sources detracts from the development of renewable energy.
Who builds the walls?
Trump doesn’t mention climate change on his site. In fact, Trump promised during the campaign that he would withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change. The next round of climate change talks began on Monday in Morocco but the process may now lack support from the world’s most powerful leader.
Refugees and immigration
Contrasts between Trump and Clinton are nowhere more stark than on immigration and refugees.
While Clinton had pledged to push for progressive immigration reforms that would have created a path to citizenship for some of America’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, Trump has vowed to immediately terminate Obama’s executive orders providing amnesty to undocumented immigrants who arrived as children and to parents of US citizens.
Trump’s supporters will be expecting him to make good on campaign promises to significantly ramp up detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants and to limit legal immigration (although they may be forced to accept that Trump’s promise of a wall along the length of the border with Mexico may turn out to be largely symbolic).
On the campaign trail, Trump responded to extremist attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando by calling for a ban on all Muslims entering the country. Immigration and security officials have pointed out that implementing a ban based on religious affiliation would be practically impossible considering that most countries don’t identify an individual’s religion on their passports. But as president, Trump will have the authority to determine the number of refugees that can be admitted for resettlement from various regions. He made it clear as recently as Monday that if elected he would suspend resettlement of refugees from Syria based on security concerns. He has advocated instead for resettling refugees to “a safe zone in their home country”.
Currently, the United States is by far the largest donor to the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR (contributing 40 percent of its budget in 2015). Considering Trump’s professed suspicion of multilateral institutions like the UN, it’s unclear whether that level of support would continue or how involved the US would be in negotiations towards global compacts on migration and refugees set in motion at the September summit in New York.
Those eying a possible expansion of US foreign aid under a Clinton presidency will be disappointed by today’s result. On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly stressed the importance of rebuilding infrastructure at home before helping others abroad, arguing in June that America should “stop sending foreign aid to countries that hate us”. An increase in the foreign aid budget is therefore highly unlikely, while cuts now become a distinct possibility, especially with the Republicans retaining control of both chambers of Congress. Trump’s antipathy for trade deals could also threaten important pacts like the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a tax-free lifeline that drives up business on the continent.
For security analysts, one of the biggest unknowns is whether Trump, when he becomes president in January, will continue to promote some of the more hardline and potentially dangerous positions he has adopted on the campaign trail: from banning Muslims from entering the country, to his support for torture (saying “I like it a lot. I don’t think it’s tough enough” about waterboarding), to keeping Guantanamo Bay open. All of the above help extremist groups, from Islamic State to Boko Haram to al-Shabab, in developing the propaganda that brings in more recruits, deepening conflicts and humanitarian crises from northern Nigeria to northern Iraq.