What's In Blue

Posted Thu 11 Dec 2014

Adoption of Resolution on Resolute Support Mission (Afghanistan)

Tomorrow morning (12 December) the Council is expected to adopt a resolution on the Resolute Support Mission (RSM), a NATO mission designed to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces post-2014. The draft resolution was put under silence this morning until late afternoon; silence was not broken and the draft is now in blue.

The negotiations on the draft began in late November and culminated in a negotiating session among the P5 and the penholder, Australia, at permanent representative level on Wednesday (10 December), following a number of sessions among all fifteen members. Some differences arose during the negotiations on the draft, which at approximately two pages is unusually concise by today’s standards. Russia has long argued that any post-2014 NATO mission in Afghanistan should come under the purview of the Council, while NATO members tend to emphasise that the legal basis for the Resolute Support Mission derives from the Status of Forces Agreement that NATO signed with the government of Afghanistan on 30 September. It seems NATO members would have been uncomfortable with the legal implications of language “authorising” the RSM, but wanted to “welcome” the new mission. Without formal language “authorising” the mission, Russia appeared less inclined than NATO members to “welcome” the new mission. As a compromise, the draft resolution will not “welcome” the RSM, but rather will “welcome” the agreement between NATO and Afghanistan regarding the post-2014 RSM in Afghanistan. This ostensibly addresses the concerns of Russia, as well as China, that the mission’s role will be consistent with the purposes and responsibilities of the RSM as agreed by NATO and Afghanistan. Along these lines, the draft resolution also notes that RSM is a “non-combat” mission.

Another area of divergence was the language on the leadership role of the RSM in working with the government and cooperating with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Initially the draft resolution indicated that the Council “supports” this leadership role. However, it seems that some non-NATO countries were uncomfortable with language “supporting” the leadership of the NATO mission, given that the mission has yet to be deployed. As a compromise, the final version indicates that the Council “looks forward to” the leadership of the RSM in working with the government and cooperating with UNAMA and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.

Also a key issue discussed in the negotiations was whether there should be a request for the RSM to report to the Council. Russia apparently had wanted language in the draft resolution requesting the mission to report to the Council on a quarterly basis, a request not supported by NATO countries. As a compromise, it appears that a paragraph has been added to the final text in which the Council will affirm its readiness to revisit the resolution in the context of the Council’s consideration of the situation in Afghanistan.

The RSM is expected to consist of approximately 12,000 troops. While other NATO countries will contribute to the mission, the large majority of these troops will be from the US.

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