What's In Blue

Posted Tue 5 Mar 2013

Adoption of Reauthorisation of AU Mission in Somalia

Tomorrow morning (6 March), the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution authorising the continued deployment of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for one year. The draft resolution, which was put in blue this afternoon, addresses the arms embargo and the UN presence in Somalia.

It seems the main goal for AMISOM is to reduce the threat posed by the Islamist rebel group Al Shabaab through maintaining a presence in four geographic sectors. It appears the Council will also reiterate its request for AMISOM to establish a guard force for the protection of staff from the international community.

The Council is also expected to request the AU to consider providing funding for AMISOM as it has done with the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA). Notably, it seems the draft resolution does not address the AU’s call for the UN to authorise an “enhancement of the support package”, nor does it respond to the AU’s decision in the Peace and Security Council Communiqué of 27 February to broaden AMISOM’s mandate to a “multidimensional Peace Support Operation” [PSC/PR/COMM (CCCLVI)].

Arms Embargo
Significantly, this resolution will result in a change to the arms embargo which has been in effect for more than two decades. (It is the Council’s longest standing arms embargo.) On 14 February, Somali Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Fauzia Yusuf Haji Adan addressed the Council and called for the lifting of the arms embargo in order to allow the Somali National Security Forces (SNSF) to “assume full responsibility for our security” and to defeat Al Shabaab (S/PV.6921). The US has also been publicly advocating lifting the arms embargo while certain European and Latin American members of the Council have been less comfortable with doing so. The 13 July 2012 report by the Monitoring Group assisting the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee (S/2012/544) in fact recommended that the Council “consider expanding the mandate of AMISOM to include enforcement of the arms embargo”. In a similar vein, critics of lifting the arms embargo, including international human rights organisations, note the current lack of institutional controls within the SNSF and are concerned about the impact of an influx of weapons in a country already awash in arms.

During negotiations, it seems that there was a shift in the positions of some (but not all) of the Council members who had been against lifting the arms embargo. This may have been due to a desire to show political support for the newly sovereign Federal Republic of Somalia and in order to gain the backing of the US for the resolution.

With regard to weapons and training intended for the SNSF, the resolution is expected to repeal for 12 months the arms embargo imposed by resolution 733 (1992) and elaborated by resolution 1425 (2002). However, some types of weaponry will remain prohibited: surface to air missiles, higher calibre guns and mortars, anti-tank guided weapons, mines, and night vision sights. The lifting of the arms embargo will also likely apply to AMISOM’s ‘strategic partners’. It also appears that the resolution may request the government to report to the Council within one month of the resolution’s adoption and semi-annually thereafter on the structure of the SNSF and the infrastructure and procedures it has established for storing, maintaining and distributing weapons. It seems that the Council will also request the Monitoring Group to assess the infrastructure and procedures that have been put in place – as well as the sale or provision of weapons to other groups – within its monthly reporting to the Sanctions Committee.

UN Presence
It seems the resolution will take several measures regarding the future UN presence in Somalia. It will likely eliminate the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), in keeping with the Secretary General’s recommendation. Also consistent with the Secretary General, it seems that it will suggest that a peacekeeping operation is not feasible under current conditions. It will also likely decide that the United Nations Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA) be incorporated into a new UN mission, and request that by January 2014 the UN Country Team (UNCT) be structurally integrated as well.

In the interim, the Council will apparently request the Secretary-General to conduct a technical assessment mission and report back to the Council by mid-April, after which it will formally mandate the deployment of a new Special Political Mission in Somalia by early June.

This appears to be a compromise solution for a diverse group of stakeholders. The approach most closely represents option “C” – a United Nations assistance mission – which the Secretary-General had recommended in his report of 31 January (S/2013/69). It largely addresses the stated preference of the government for “one door to knock on” with the integration of UNSOA and the UNCT (although the latter will be phased in over time). The US, which wanted to keep UNSOA separate, appears to have yielded on this point. However, humanitarian actors, who are concerned about the risk of aid politicisation and have strongly opposed the UNCT’s structural integration, may not be entirely happy with this option.

The draft resolution also apparently includes a human rights section covering protection of civilians, women and gender based violence as well as violations against children. There also seem to be references to the need for AMISOM to develop an effective approach to the protection of civilians including through following through and reporting on its commitment to establish a Civilian Casualty Tracking Analysis and Response Cell.

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