December 2021 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 November 2021
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Expected Council Action

In December, the Council is scheduled to vote on two resolutions on Somalia: one to reauthorise the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the other to renew counter-piracy measures off the coast of Somalia. The AMISOM authorisation expires on 31 December and the counter-piracy measures on 4 December. The Council received the annual report on piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia on 4 November.

Key Recent Developments

On 12 March, the Council adopted resolution 2568, reauthorising AMISOM until the end of this year. Several actions were anticipated during this authorisation period that would inform the Council’s discussion on a future AU mission in Somalia. Resolution 2568 called for an update of AMISOM’s concept of operations (CONOPS), to be conducted by the AU and the government of Somalia, and presented to the Council by the end of August. It requested a proposal from the Secretary-General on the strategic objectives, size and composition of a reconfigured AU mission, to be completed jointly with the AU, the Somali federal government and donors, and presented to the Council by the end of September. It further requested options from the Secretary-General for continued UN logistical support for UNSOM and the Somali security forces alongside a reconfigured AU mission “for consideration by the Security Council by the end of October 2021”.

However, divergent views on the future of AMISOM have hampered the completion of these steps. On 30 May, the AU issued its own assessment, concluding that an AU-UN hybrid mission was the most suitable way forward, contrary to the 8 January assessment of the UN Secretary-General, which recommended a reconfiguration of AMISOM. The AU felt that its approach would address, among other things, concerns about sustainable financing, given the Security Council’s reluctance to support AU peace operations through UN-assessed contributions. Meanwhile, the Somali federal government has repeatedly endorsed the option of a reconfigured AMISOM, as proposed by the UN, as being most consistent with its 2021 Somalia Transition Plan (STP), which outlines steps towards the gradual handover of security responsibilities from international forces to the government.

The disagreement has strained AU-Somali relations. The AU and the Somali government have repeatedly engaged in trying to bridge their differences but have so far not been able to reach an agreement. An AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) communiqué issued on 7 October endorsed the AU-UN hybrid mission model and requested African members of the UN Security Council “to promote and advocate for the option of transition to an AU-UN Multidimensional Transition Mission in Somalia as adopted in this Communiqué and to engage with other members of the Security Council to ensure a favourable outcome to these discussions”. On 4 November, Somalia’s foreign ministry declared Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia Simon Mulongo “persona non grata” for “activities [that are] incompatible with AMISOM’s mandate and Somalia’s security strategy”. In late October, the Somali federal government reportedly accused the AU and AMISOM of obstructing the implementation of the STP.

Prior to voting on a draft resolution renewing anti-piracy measures, Council members will have considered the Secretary-General’s annual report on the situation with respect to piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, which covers events from 1 November 2020 to 31 October 2021. The report recorded no piracy incidents off the Somali coastline for the second consecutive year; however, it cautioned that suspicious approaches towards merchant vessels observed in the region indicate that “progress achieved in combatting piracy could be reversed, if not consolidated”. It further reported that piracy activities had been further suppressed through the combined efforts of naval forces and the shipping industries’ implementation of strategies outlined in the guidebook Best Management Practices to Deter Piracy and Enhance Maritime Security in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Sea.

Women, Peace and Security

On 30 June, the Informal Experts Group (IEG) on Women and Peace and Security met to discuss the situation in Somalia. Special Representative for Somalia and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) James Swan and Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia and head of AMISOM Francisco Madeira briefed Council members at the meeting. In addition, regarding the upcoming negotiations on AMISOM’s reauthorisation, UN Women, as the IEG secretariat, recommended including language calling for “gender analysis and consultations with women’s organisations to inform the transfer of security responsibilities to the Somali authorities”. UN Women also recommended that the Security Council retain all language on women, peace and security from resolution 2568, the latest resolution reauthorising the mission. Among other things, the resolution urged AMISOM to integrate a gender perspective in the delivery of its mandate and to “ensure the full, effective and meaningful participation of women across its operations”. This was the first time the IEG met on Somalia and the first time that a non-UN briefer (Madeira) addressed an IEG meeting.

Human Rights-Related Developments 

During its 48th session, the Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted resolution 48/22 without a vote on 11 October, extending the mandate of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia for one year (A/HRC/48/L.15/Rev.1). It requested the independent expert to report to the HRC at its 50th session and to the General Assembly at its 77th session and to provide an update to the HRC on progress regarding the implementation of the benchmarks and indicators in the transition plan to inform future action by the HRC. It also requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other relevant UN agencies to provide the independent expert with all the human, technical and financial assistance necessary to carry out the mandate effectively.

Key Issues and Options 

How to find consensus regarding the future of AMISOM will be one of the key issues. Time is fast running out ahead of the mission’s reauthorisation in December, and it seems unlikely that agreement will be reached anytime soon. The 7 October AUPSC communiqué appealed to the Council to consider a technical rollover of the AMISOM reauthorisation “while discussions continue on the details and modalities for transition towards the post-2021 arrangement”. An International Crisis Group report on AMISOM published on 15 November recommended a six-month extension to allow sufficient time to draft a reconfiguration plan and seek funding for the mission, as well as to provide Somalia the opportunity to address several political challenges. Among these challenges, the report notes, is finalising the transition of power and advancing reconciliation between the federal government and its member states, among other things to help create increased support for building the national security forces.  While the six-month extension may be agreeable to some Council members, others may argue for a shorter extension to maintain pressure on the relevant parties (that is, the government of Somalia and the AU) to reach consensus.

Following the renewal of the anti-piracy measures through the adoption of resolution 2554 of 4 December 2020, Somalia noted in a statement to the Council that it had “witnessed a drastic reduction in the number of piracy incidents, in particular in the last three years”.

One option for the Council is to maintain the anti-piracy measures without making changes to the mandate. However, with no piracy incidents reported in the past year, another option could be to phase out the measures in place.

Council and Wider Dynamics

Council members had the opportunity to voice their views on the future of AMISOM when they discussed the situation in Somalia on 17 November. The UK noted a broad range of views on the future of security support for Somalia and concluded that an AU-UN hybrid mission would not be a realistic and affordable option. The US supported this view, noting that a restructured AU-led mission would be best positioned to maintain pressure on Al-Shabaab, the terrorist group which continues to pose significant threats to peace and security in Somalia.

For other Council members, particularly the “A3 plus one” (Kenya, Niger, Tunisia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), the funding of AMISOM and future security arrangements in Somalia are priority issues. During Council briefings on Somalia, they have repeatedly argued in favour of more predictable and sustainable funding for the mission and prefer the option of an AU-UN hybrid mission financed through UN assessed contributions instead of voluntary donor funding. This option, however, is unlikely to find support from some other Council members, including the US. Currently, the EU is one of the major donors to AMISOM, and while several European Council members, including Estonia and Ireland, support the EU’s continued financial support for the mission, the scope of future contributions was still under discussion in Brussels at the time of writing. As it has done in past Council sessions, France argued for a more lasting and sustainable solution to AMISOM financing. Russia said that the views of the host country should be taken into consideration.

The anti-piracy measures have in the past found broad support from the Council, reflected in the unanimous adoption of resolution 2554. The EU supports implementation of this resolution through the deployment of the naval mission EUNAVFOR Operation Atalanta, which is mandated to deter, prevent and repress piracy and to protect vulnerable vessels and humanitarian shipments off the coast of Somalia.

The UK is the penholder on Somalia. The US holds the pen for the anti-piracy resolution.

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Security Council Resolutions
12 March 2021S/RES/2568 This resolution reauthorised the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for ten months until 31 December 2021.
4 December 2020S/RES/2554 This resolution renewed for twelve months the authorisation granted to states and regional organisations cooperating with Somali authorities in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia.
Secretary-General’s Reports
11 November 2021S/2021/944 This was the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Somalia covering developments from 1 August to 4 November 2021.
3 November 2021S/2021/920 This was the Secretary-General’s annual report on the situation regarding piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia.
Security Council Letters
15 March 2021S/2021/260 This was the letter transmitting the draft resolution later adopted as resolution 2568, voting results, explanations of vote (China, India, Kenya, and the UK), and a statement by Somalia.
4 October 2021S/2021/859 This was a letter from the Security Council in response to the Secretary-General’s request for an extension of the deadlines to submit a proposal on a reconfigured AMISOM and options for continued UN logistical support to the AU mission, UNSOM, and the Somali security forces.
4 December 2020S/2020/1170 This was the announcement of the conclusion of the written voting procedure on resolution 2554.

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