What's In Blue

Adoption of AU Mission in Somalia Resolution

Tomorrow morning (7 November), the Security Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution extending the authorisation of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and its UN-funded support package until 7 March 2013. The text, which was put into blue this afternoon, is essentially a technical rollover, except for a provision that expands the support package to cover the cost of 50 additional civilian personnel as requested by the AU in its latest progress report on AMISOM (S/2012/764) submitted to the Council on 12 October.

It seems the UK gave up on trying to get agreement on a more comprehensive draft which was initially circulated to Council members last month and would have extended the authorisation for one year. The adoption of this was initially scheduled for 30 October, but Hurricane Sandy delayed negotiations and the Council therefore on 31 October, in resolution 2072, authorised a one-week technical rollover. It appears this was not enough time for the UK to finalise negotiations despite moving discussions up to the deputy permanent representative and then the ambassadorial level and engaging in intensive bilateral consultations over the last few days.

It seems the main sticking points in the negotiations resulted from divisions over how to respond to several AU requests presented over the last month, in particular with regard to funding for a maritime component. While a majority of Council members, with India and South Africa among the most vocal, are supportive of expanding AMISOM’s support package to include funding for maritime assets, European members and the US are opposed, arguing that more details about the utility and precise mandate of the maritime component and its capabilities are needed.

Another divisive issue was how to respond to requests for revisions to the arms embargo. In a 30 October press release, the AU asked the Council to review the embargo on Somalia in order to provide arms and other military equipment to the Somali security forces. The draft that was abandoned would have noted the press release and expressed the Council’s willingness to review the embargo within six months. There was also a proposal to grant an exemption to the arms embargo for other than AMISOM and Somali security forces and specifically authorise “non-Somali” forces to perform AMISOM mandated tasks.

Less controversial was language that would have responded to the AU’s request, also in its 30 October press statement, calling on the Council “to look into the large volume of charcoal found in the city of Kismayo by AMISOM,” and to consider adopting, in the context of the embargo on the export of charcoal from Somalia an “ad hoc and urgent solution in consultation with the Somali Government.” (Countries in the region had called for a temporary lifting of the embargo.) The draft that was abandoned would apparently have acknowledged the Somali authorities’ intention to study the situation in Kismayo and expressed the Council’s willingness at some point to take further action in consultation with the authorities. Following a meeting between the Somali President and a representative of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) on 5 November, it was announced that Somalia would appoint a task force to assess the situation.

Somalia will also be on the Council’s programme of work later this week. On Thursday, the Chair of the Sanctions Committee for Somalia and Eritrea, Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri (India), is scheduled to present his 120-day report to Council members in informal consultations. His briefing is expected to include an update on requests received by the Committee for exemptions to the arms embargo.

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