Editor's note: Guest columnists Megan Gleason-Roberts and Alischa Kugel are filling in for Richard Gowan, who is on vacation this week.
June will be the start of a new phase of United Nations engagement in Somalia, when the new U.N. Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) will replace the long-standing U.N. Political Office in Somalia (UNPOS), in place since 1995. In late-April, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tapped Nicholas Kay, a former British ambassador and Africa director at the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as the secretary-general’s new special representative in Somalia. When Kay takes up his duties as the head of UNSOM on June 3, he will be presented with both risks and opportunities at a crucial time of renewed hope and momentum for Somalia.
Somalia, with the help of the international community, has achieved important political and security milestones over the past year. Bolstered by additional resources, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), alongside Somali security forces, regional countries and allied groups, has made crucial security advances against the Islamist group al-Shabab. These gains have been matched with political achievements including the adoption of a provisional constitution and the election of a new federal parliament and president, thereby concluding the fraught eight-year transitional period. Concerted engagement to tackle piracy in the Horn of Africa has contributed to a decline in piracy attacks off the Somali coast.