Photo credit: Mareeg.com
Charcoal Trade in Somalia
It is certain that the bulk of the illegal Somali charcoal trade is carried from Somali ports on vessels registered in other States, so the trade is very clearly part of a broader transnational criminal enterprise that extends well beyond the activities of Al Shabaab and others inside Somalia itself. Nor does the illicit trade have only transnational organised crime dimensions – charcoal production creates massive deforestation and desertification problems, which in turn reduces the available grazing land for livestock, the dominant Somali export industry.
The UNSC has responded by placing a sanctions regime around the import of illegal Somali charcoal. However, this sanctions regime has three primary weaknesses:
a. It has not been applied over exports, thus it does not directly authorise any international action (in conjunction with the Somali Federal Government – SFG) in terms of interdicting illegal Somali charcoal shipments at the point of export;
b. The sanctions regime relies upon SFG implementation on the Somali export side of the trade, but the SFG has to date been unable to make significant inroads into this issue – understandable given the many other severe security and governance challenges it currently faces; and
c. The import sanctions regime does not appear to be enforced in importing States on a systematic and comprehensive basis, meaning that it does not yet appear to have sponsored any substantial reduction in the trade.
So what is to be done?