Foreign Policy Blogs

Somalia to Allow War Crimes Investigations.

Somalia to Allow War Crimes Investigations.The transitional government in Somalia has agreed to allow the United Nations to investigate allegations of human rights abuses, disappearances, and illegal detentions, among other war crimes. The UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, John Holmes, said the Somali government did not accept allegations it was implicated in the atrocities, but said it would allow investigations to be conducted by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. More than 1,600 people have been killed and thousands have fled uprisings in the capital, Mogadishu, since March 12. The conflict has made it difficult for relief agencies to reach those in need.

Somalia has been embroiled in conflict since 1991. Warlords associated with General Mohamed Farrah Aidid overthrew the government of Mohamed Siad Barre, sending the country into civil war. In 1993, as part of Operation GOTHIC SERPENT, US Special Forces collaborated with a UN intervention team to capture General Aidid, characterized in the movie and book Black Hawk Down. Since then, Somalia has had as many as thirteen governments attempting to rule the region with little success. In 2006, the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), a militia the US alleges is an al Qa'ida affiliate, were ousted from power after 6-months of Taliban-style rule. The UIC has sworn to launch an Iraqi inspired insurgency against the government. The current government was brought to power after US trained Ethiopian forces working with US Special Forces raided the capital. The current government declared victory around the end of April and the capital city has been in relative calm since then.

Though the majority of conflict is largely over, a humanitarian crisis is looming over the 400,000 displaced individuals. Somali businessmen have taken advantage of the situation, increasing the price of water by as much as 2000 percent and imposing a "shade tax", charging a fee to sit in the shade of trees.

The latest conflict is the most violent since 1991. UN officials have said that the exodus from Mogadishu this year has eclipsed that of Iraq and Darfur. The conflict in civilian populated areas, such as the capital city, is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, according to Holmes.

In related news, the BBC is reporting that Ethiopian officials are looking to withdraw their forces from the region.  BBC World Service is highlighting this story today.

AP/Washington Post



Daniel Graeber

Daniel Graeber is a writer for United Press International covering Iraq, Afghanistan and the broader Levant. He has published works on international and constitutional law pertaining to US terrorism cases and on child soldiers. His first major work, entitled The United States and Israel: The Implications of Alignment, is featured in the text, Strategic Interests in the Middle East: Opposition or Support for US Foreign Policy. He holds a MA in Diplomacy and International Conflict Management from Norwich University, where his focus was international relations theory, international law, and the role of non-state actors.

Areas of Focus:International law; Middle East; Government and Politics; non-state actors