What's In Blue

Posted Wed 15 Jul 2015

Somalia: Briefing and Consultations on Joint AU-UN Report

On Thursday (16 July), the Security Council is expected to receive a briefing from Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet on the Secretary-General’s letter of 2 July transmitting the 30 June AU-UN report. The joint report, requested by the Council in resolution 2182 and based on a field mission conducted from 14-25 April, reviews benchmarks for the deployment of UN peacekeepers, assesses the impact of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troop surge authorised by resolution 2124 in November 2013, and makes recommendations for future military strategy. Council members discussed the preliminary findings and recommendations of the AU-UN report during an informal interactive dialogue on 8 June.

They will be keen to hear more about the Secretary-General’s recommendations as the AU-UN report may have implications for the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), which is expected to be renewed later this month. During the consultations following the briefing, members are expected to discuss the AU-UN report and be briefed by Ambassador Rafael Ramírez (Venezuela), chair of the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee.

Of particular interest may be the joint mission’s recommendations with regard to the possibility of deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in Somalia. The joint mission found that the situation is not expected to be conducive to deployment until the end of 2016 at the earliest. The AU-UN report recommends a minor update of the benchmarks specified in the Secretary-General’s letter of 14 October 2013 and noted by the Council in resolution 2124. The proposed benchmarks include: a) political agreement on the federal statebuilding process; b) an extension of state authority in recovered areas; c) sufficiently diminishing the threat posed by Al-Shabaab; d) substantial improvement of physical security, including in cities; e) increased capability of Somali security forces to hold territory in AMISOM areas of operation; f) agreement on security arrangements that are consistent with the political process; g) police services enabling an environment conducive to political processes, economic activity and delivery of social services; and h) the consent of the Federal Government of Somalia and the population for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation.

With respect to security strategy, the AU-UN report recognises the interdependence of security and political processes in Somalia, including the need to align the former with the latter, particularly regarding federal state formation. Three general objectives were proposed: enabling political processes at national, regional and local levels through improved security in Mogadishu and the regional capitals; restarting military offensives against Al-Shabaab as soon as possible; and enabling the consolidation of captured territory with a population-centric approach prioritising area security. More specifically, the Secretary-General also endorses the joint report’s recommendations to incorporate semi-autonomous Puntland into the security strategy and establish joint AMISOM/UNSOM/Somali regional planning mechanisms.

Council members may be interested in the AU-UN report’s recommendation, which the Secretary-General supports, to extend the surge of AMISOM uniformed personnel. In his letter, the Secretary-General states that the extension should be accompanied by a “structured and targeted reconfiguration” of AMISOM, including operationalisation of command and control arrangements articulated in the AMISOM concept of operations of 23 January 2014, the creation of an AMISOM special forces capacity to operate alongside Somali special forces and eventually a transition from troops toward police within AMISOM’s authorised ceiling. The Secretary-General also agrees with the joint report’s finding that gaps in the provision of support to frontline AMISOM and Somali National Army (SNA) troops have impacted the sustainability of offensive operations and stabilisation efforts. A review of the UN Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA) will be undertaken soon. Lastly, the Secretary-General encourages the Council to call on member states to assist in generating necessary force enablers, particularly military helicopters.

Council members are aware that, in the long-term, the development of adequate Somali security institutions is a pre-requisite for assuming national responsibility for security (from either AMISOM or a future UN peacekeeping operation), and are likely to be interested in the Secretary-General’s endorsement of a range of relevant measures recommended by the AU-UN report. Among these are extending the non-lethal support package for the SNA, the full and formal integration of 3,000 Puntland forces into the SNA, extending the non-lethal support package to Puntland forces with an exemption regarding the requirement for joint deployment with AMISOM (which will not extend its sectors of operation to include the semi-autonomous region), developing a medium-term police plan and supporting the creation of regional police, as well as expanding the non-lethal support package in the short-term to Somali police.

While the AU-UN report was not specifically tasked with a review of UNSOM’s performance and making recommendations for a revision of its mandate, Council members will be particularly interested in the aspects of its findings with potential implications for the UN special political mission. In particular, the joint report recommends increasing civilian support for the regional state formation process and strengthening UNSOM’s presence in the regional capitals. The Secretary-General also supports the AU-UN report’s recommendation for the creation of joint AMISOM-UNSOM teams in the regional capitals. During upcoming negotiations on the draft resolution renewing UNSOM’s mandate, Council members may have to take into consideration whether the proposed plans for regional collaboration between AMISOM and UNSOM might require modification of their respective mandates. However, security remains a significant operational constraint to a regional extension of civilian staff. Council members may be interested in Mulet’s views on the options proposed by the AU-UN report to mitigate insecurity: expanding the UN Guard Unit to the regions, using AMISOM formed police units, increasing dependence on private security companies or relying on security provided by Somali authorities.

Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Sign up for What's In Blue emails