Somalia - EP 1

Duration: 23-Jan-1992 to 03-May-2002

The UNSC imposed a comprehensive arms embargo on all parties to the conflict in UNSCR 733 (23 January 1992).

Although a ceasefire was agreed to on 3 March 1992, it was not adhered to, and humanitarian relief operations were increasingly placed at risk. The UNSC authorized a small UN Security Force (UNOSOM I) in UNSCR 751 (24 April 1992) and expanded it to 3,500 troops in August, but it was not deployed, and, by November 1992, General Mohamed Farah Aideed ordered it to leave the country. That same month, the US offered to lead a multinational force to protect humanitarian relief efforts. Its offer was accepted in UNSCR 794 (3 December 1992), suspending UNOSOM I, creating the Unified Task Force (UNITAF) and authorizing it to use “all necessary means” to ensure the protection of the relief efforts. UNITAF was intended to be an interim force to support the deployment of UN forces and was eventually succeeded by UNOSOM II on 4 May 1993.

Following a failed October 1993 effort to apprehend General Mohamed Farah Aideed, “the Black Hawk Down incident,” during the first battle of Mogadishu, the US withdrew from Somalia in March 1994. More than 35 attempts to foster a negotiated peace failed between 1992 and 1995, and, on 4 November 1994 (UNSCR 954), the UN effectively gave up on its objectives of facilitating a peaceful resolution of the Somali conflict and ordered all peacekeeping forces withdrawn in March 1995. The UNSC kept the arms embargo in place, but did not pass another UNSCR relating to the conflict in Somalia until approving an exemptions request on 19 June 2001, more than six years later.


Coerce all parties to the conflict (especially the two leading factions) to cease hostilities and accept a ceasefire.


Constrain all parties to the conflict from engaging in violence and interfering with humanitarian relief efforts.


Signal support for humanitarian relief operations and regional peace initiatives.


Arms imports embargo on all parties to the conflict.

No individual sanctions imposed.

Potential scope of impact


UN sanctions can have some non-discriminating impact on the general population, since they include arms embargoes, diplomatic sanctions, and/or restrictions on the conduct of particular activities or the export of specific commodities.

Sanctions Committee created 3 months after sanctions imposition, no sanctions monitoring mechanism in place. Enforcement authorities not specified.



Policy outcome

Due to intransigence of the principal parties to the conflict, continued hostilities, failure of more than 35 attempts to negotiate a peace settlement, and the withdrawal of UN peacekeeping forces during the episode.

Sanctions contribution

UN peacekeeping forces (and UNITAF) were more significant than sanctions, the country was already awash in arms, and neighboring states were major violators of the arms embargo.



Policy outcome

Principal parties continued to engage in violence throughout the episode.

Sanctions contribution

UNITAF and UNOSOM II were the principal sources of constraining interference with humanitarian operations.



Policy outcome

Although the signal in support of humanitarianism was initially strong, the UN withdrawal from the country two years later, followed by more than six years of virtual inaction, weakened the signal.

Sanctions contribution

The arms embargo was not implemented, and the UN withdrawal, and subsequent inaction were most significant to the weak signal.



Increase in corruption and criminality, resource diversion, decline in the credibility and/or legitimacy of UN Security Council.



  • Imposes arms imports embargo to Somalia.



  • Establishes Sanctions Committee and specifies its mandate.



  • Requests MS concerned reporting.



  • Adds UNSCR 733 arms imports embargo exemptions for protective clothing for personal use of UN, media, humanitarian and development workers and associated personnel and Committee approved non-lethal military equipment for humanitarian or protective use.