What's In Blue

Posted Mon 11 Nov 2013

Somalia Resolution Authorising Increase in Troop Strength

Tomorrow morning (12 November) the Security Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution authorising an increase in the troop strength of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and extending its mandate until 31 October 2014. The UK, the penholder on Somalia, requested the text of a draft resolution on Somalia to be put in blue last Friday. It seems Russia raised some last minute objections to a paragraph in the draft on humanitarian access and assistance but there appears to have been agreement which will allow the adoption to go ahead as planned.

It seems the draft resolution largely endorses all the main recommendations of the Secretary-General as presented in his 14 October letter to the Council based on the joint UN/AU review conducted earlier this year (S/2013/606). More specifically, the draft:

  • requests the AU to increase AMISOM’s troop strength from 17,731 to a maximum of 22,126, it being understood that the addition would be made up of 2,550 combat troops and 1,845 support-unit troops and would only be short-term for a period of 18-24 months;
  • decides to expand the UN financed logistical support package for AMISOM to cover the additional troops;
  • emphasises the critical need for AMISOM force enablers and multipliers, in particular helicopters, and encourages contributions from member states in this regard;
  • requests the UN Support Office for AMISOM to provide the Somali National Army (SNA) with non-lethal support such as food, water, fuel, transport, tents and medical evacuation; and
  • welcomes the Secretary-General’s intention to deploy a guard force to strengthen the security of UN Assistance Mission in Somalia while asking for further details about its deployment “as soon as possible”.

However, there is one recommendation the draft resolution does not endorse. While the Secretary-General had called for non-lethal support to the SNA to be financed through UN assessed contributions, the draft text instead decides that this support shall be funded through a UN trust fund based on voluntary contributions from UN member states. It seems most Council members were ready to support the Secretary-General’s recommendation on this point, but that some P5 members had reservations apparently based on concerns that such a provision might create a precedent for other situations on the Council’s agenda as well as concerns about accountability issues. In particular, there seemed to be reluctance to authorise direct financial backing of an operation over which the UN ultimately has little control given the SNA’s poor track record with regard to respect for international humanitarian law and human rights.

In other provisions in the text, the Council requests the Secretary-General to work together with the AU to support implementation of the resolution with a special focus on improving planning and strategic management of AMISOM and strengthening command and control structures through the development of a new concept of operations by 1 January 2014 and enhanced technical advice. There are also several provisions emphasising the need for AMISOM to comply with its obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law and address allegations of misconduct. With regard to support for the SNA, the draft calls for additional efforts in this regard while stressing the need to ensure full compliance with the UN’s human rights and due diligence policy and requesting AMISOM to use its civilian casualty tracking analysis and response cell when reporting on joint operations with the army.

In addition, the draft resolution emphasises the need for political progress. Among other things, it stresses the importance of an integrated approach encompassing political, security and peacebuilding activities and encourages the government to finalise and adopt a federal constitution by December 2015 for elections to take place in 2016. The text also encourages the federal government to clarify its relations with local administrations and put in place a representative local governance structure across Somalia. Finally, there is a paragraph expressing concern about continuing violations of the charcoal ban imposed by the Council, requesting the Secretary-General and his Special Representative to raise awareness about the ban among member states and underlying the importance of complying with all aspects of the arms embargo.

It seems the negotiations on many aspects of the text went smoothly, reflecting widespread support among Council members for the Secretary-General’s recommendations. The continued strength of Al-Shabaab as demonstrated by the 21-24 September terrorist attack in Nairobi seems to have galvanised the Council into action to bolster AMISOM and Somali security structures. Another deadly bomb attack in Mogadishu last Friday (8 November) for which Al-Shabaab also claimed responsibility, has likely only added to the sense of the urgency. In a press statement issued yesterday, Council members strongly condemned the attack, which killed 11 people, and reiterated their willingness to take measures against individuals threatening the peace and security of Somalia.

In addition to the AMISOM resolution, the Council is expected to later this month adopt a resolution on Somalia to extend the anti-piracy authorisation initially established in 2008 and most recently renewed on 21 November 2012 in resolution 2077 for another twelve months. (The provision authorises international counter-piracy action to be carried out within Somali territorial waters and on land in Somalia.) The US circulated a draft resolution last week, which is largely a technical rollover with some updates reflecting recent developments. Negotiations started last Thursday and are expected to be straightforward. At press time, a second and final round of negotiations was scheduled for Wednesday (13 November) with adoption expected on 18 November.

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