UN Human Rights in Somalia
OHCHR began operating in Somalia in 2008 through the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), focusing on human rights monitoring and capacity-building. As UNPOS’s successor mission, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia's (UNSOM) Human Rights and Protection Group (HRPG), was established by Security Council Resolution 2102 (2013) of 2 May 2013 and started operating on 3 June 2013.
HRPG has a broad mandate to carry out monitoring and capacity-building, as well as to mainstream human rights within the activities of the UN Country Team and Humanitarian Country Team. Activities include
monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights, engaging civil society and other partners, support for the government, strengthening security forces compliance with human rights standards and norms, implementation of the
Human Rights Due Diligence Policy (HRDDP), engagement with other governments and diplomatic missions/ mechanisms.
Type of engagement
Human rights component in peace mission
2013 (but present in Somalia since 2008)
Head office in Mogadishu and field offices in Jubbaland, Puntland, South West State, HirShabelle, and Somaliland
Annual budget needs
- In 2012 and 2016, OHCHR facilitated the engagement of the Government and civil society in the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council, resulting in key commitments. In the 2016 UPR process, recommendations were made to strengthen accountability mechanisms for security forces, and to strengthen efforts to prevent child recruitment and sexual violence in conflict. A national Human Rights Roadmap Action Plan to implement the UPR and other commitments have helped framed the human rights agenda in various sectors and institutions. This road map is complemented by Action Plans on recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming of children as well as a National Action Plan on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict. HRPG provided technical support to the Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development to ensure that the National Development Plan (NDP) prioritized UPR recommendations.
- HRPG has provided extensive technical advice and support to the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission. As of December 2016, the approval of the list of members of the Commission, inclusive of women, minorities, and people with disabilities, is with the Cabinet before being submitted for approval by Parliament.
- Pursuant to its mandate “to monitor, help investigate and report to the Council” on human rights violations, HRPG has published several public reports, including two on freedom of expression, “The Right Freedom of Expression: Striving to Widen Democratic Space in Somalia’s Political Transition” in 2016 and “The Precarious Enjoyment of Freedom of Expression in Somalia” in September 2018. The reports highlight the challenges and recommend that prompt, independent, impartial and thorough investigations be conducted into human rights violations and abuses affecting freedom of expression. They further recommend that perpetrators be held accountable, s that protection mechanisms be established to prevent and address all forms of threats and attacks against political actors, journalists and other media workers so as to ensure accountability when such acts occur.
- HRPG implements activities designed to minimize the impact of the armed conflict on civilians. In this respect, on 10 December 2017, it published the report entitled “Protection of Civilians: Building the Foundation for Peace, Security and Human Rights in Somalia”, focusing on violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed in Somalia and represented a first attempt by UNSOM to quantify civilian casualties.
- In August 2018 HRPG launched “Securing Political Participation: Human Rights in Somalia’s Electoral Processes,” focusing on violations occurring before, during and after the 2016-2017 parliamentary and presidential elections. It recommends that the 2020 elections ensure a system of representation that is inclusive of all citizens, including internally displaced persons, persons with disabilities, minority communities, youth and women, applying the one person, one vote principle”.
- HRPG also issues a public monthly brief, with an overview of the civilian casualties, highlights, main concerns and support to strengthening national institutions. See all public reports, including the monthly briefs.
- In 2017/2018, HRPG continues to support the system-wide HRDDP implementation for all UN support to AMISOM and the Somali security sector, particularly in the framework of the comprehensive approach to security. HRPG provides technical advice to UN entities on their policy obligations and supported the development and adoption of risk assessments which identify measures to mitigate risk of violations. HRPG supports the implementation of these measures through training and capacity-building on IHRL/IHL, screening troops for children, monitoring and reporting of violations, including on CRSV, and cooperation to strengthen accountability mechanisms.
- The UN in Somalia undertook a Human Rights Up Front stock taking exercise in 2017, identifying recommendations for early warning and response to human rights and IHL violations. The recommendations included emphasising that all UN staff has a role in early warning, prevention, and that this can reinforce the UN’s capacity for hotspot analysis, and identification of conflict drivers, which can in turn inform UN system wide responses.
- Following advocacy efforts for Somalia to sign and ratify international human rights treaties, in 2015 the Government of Somalia ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and on 2 October 2018, became party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Partners and Donors
Partners: UN agencies, International and regional organizations, Government of Somalia, law enforcement and judiciary, civil society.
Donors: Sweden, Norway, Denmark.
UN Human Rights Focus Areas
Mechanisms: Increasing implementation of the international human rights mechanisms outcomes
Peace and Security: Early warning, prevention & protection of human rights in situations of conflict & insecurity
Accountability: Strengthening rule of law and accountability for human rights violations
Participation: Enhancing & protecting civic space and people's participation
Last reviewed: November 2020