AU Mission in Somalia Reauthorisation*
This afternoon (12 March), the Security Council is expected to announce the voting results on a draft resolution reauthorising the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for ten months until 31 December. The mandate will authorise AU member states to maintain the deployment of uniformed AMISOM personnel in the country. The draft was put in blue yesterday afternoon, and a 24-hour written voting period then commenced based on rules established due to the restrictions on in-person meetings resulting from the COVID-10 pandemic.
The reauthorisation is taking place in the aftermath of violent protests in the Somali capital of Mogadishu initiated by opposition groups in December 2020 and January over the management and subsequent postponement of parliamentary and presidential elections. The protests were triggered by a dispute over the legitimacy of the mandate of President Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed “Farmajo”, whose term expired on 8 February. The renewal also comes in the midst of a dire humanitarian situation. The latest report of the Secretary-General on Somalia (S/2021/154) warns that some 5.9 million people are in need of assistance, as the country faces a triple threat of floods, the Covid-19 pandemic, and a spreading desert locust infestation harming crops and pastures.
The negotiations have been influenced by recent developments related to the transfer of security responsibilities from AMISOM to the Somali security forces. The current authorisation (S/RES/2520 of 2020) called for a review of the 2018 Somalia Transition Plan (STP), which outlines the strategic and operational objectives for the progressive transfer of security responsibilities from AMISOM to the Somali security institutions by 2023. While this review has concluded, some members are conscious that it has not yet been endorsed by the entire Somali government and the AU. Resolution 2520 also requested an update of AMISOM’s Concept of Operations (CONOPS), which is scheduled to be completed this summer. Council members may also have considered the recommendations of the “Independent Assessment of International Support to the Whole Security Environment in Somalia Post-2021”, which was submitted to the Council by the Secretariat on 8 January. The report explores options for an adjusted international security posture in Somalia and identifies a reconfigured AMISOM as the most viable option in support of the Somali security forces, amidst a volatile security situation, largely due to the activities of Al-Shabaab.
The vote on the current draft comes following a technical rollover of the AMISOM reauthorisation until 14 March through resolution 2563, adopted on 25 February. The A3 plus one (Kenya, Niger Tunisia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) requested the postponement of the negotiations on the draft text, citing the need for more time to consult with their capitals. They also wanted to wait until after an AU assessment of AMISOM scheduled to be completed in May, in order to allow for its outcome to possibly be incorporated into the draft resolution; they were thus suggesting the timeframe for the technical rollover to go beyond the eventual authorisation until mid-March in resolution 2563.
The future of AMISOM also featured in the Council’s videoconference meeting on Somalia on 22 February. Briefers from the AU and the EU, as well as Council members, voiced their views on AMISOM’s reauthorisation. Their statements addressed a range of topics, including the issue of securing financing for AMISOM, convening a force generation conference, promoting a comprehensive approach to security and the need for a strong AU-UN partnership to facilitate coordinated support towards the full implementation of the STP.
Negotiations resumed in early March, following the technical rollover. One of the most difficult issues was related to funding options for AU-led peace support missions authorised by the Council. The draft in blue, in line with wording from Resolution 2520, continues to encourage the Secretary-General, the AU and member states to explore a range of options available to the UN, the AU, the EU and other partners in order to establish more secure funding for AMISOM. It seems that some members, particularly the A3, were not pleased that UN assessed contributions were not included in the possible options. It is possible that as a result one or more members might choose to abstain.
Members also discussed the milestones and corresponding timelines that need to be met before the end of the year when Council members are expected to discuss the future of AMISOM ahead of the next reauthorisation.
While Council members agreed on maintaining the troop ceiling and the core mandated tasks, there were discussions around attaching a timetable for the completion of the milestones towards the handover of responsibilities to the Somali national security forces. Some Council members favoured clear timelines, while others preferred not to attach specific timelines. In the end, the draft in blue references the achievements already made, such as the review of the STP or the Independent Assessment of International Support, while listing future aims, including the AU Assessment of AMISOM scheduled for May and the conclusion of the CONOPS review.
Council members were divided over the timing of the completion of the CONOPS review, with some in favour of a June deadline while others preferred August. The final draft text has an August deadline for presentation of the review to the Council.
Another issue in the negotiations was the inclusion of language on humanitarian principles. Russia reportedly requested that the draft text mention the UN guiding principles on humanitarian emergency assistance. This was accepted and text was added on the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence in relation to humanitarian assistance. (The guiding principles, outlined in UN General Assembly resolution 46/182 of 19 December 1991, also note that the “sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States” be fully respected in accordance with the UN Charter.)
*Post-Script: The Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2568 on 12 March. Following the read-out of the voting results by the US Presidency of the Council, Niger delivered an explanation of vote on behalf of the A3 plus one. Among other concerns, it expressed disappointment that some of the proposals of the A3 plus one to the text had not been included, particularly a reference to UN assessed contributions as one of a full range of options to be examined to support AMISOM. The explanation of vote also called for a review of the penholder system.