What's In Blue

Posted Fri 28 Jun 2024

Somalia: Vote on the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS)*

This afternoon (28 June), the Security Council is expected to vote on a draft resolution on the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), which was authored by the UK, the penholder on Somalia. The draft resolution in blue extends the authorisation for African Union (AU) member states to deploy uniformed personnel in the country to carry out ATMIS’ mandated tasks until 12 August.

Background

In line with resolution 2710 of 15 November 2023, which extended ATMIS’ authorisation until 30 June, Somalia submitted to the Council in a letter dated 11 April its proposal for post-ATMIS security arrangements. In a 3 April communiqué, the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) welcomed Somalia’s proposal and requested the AU Commission (the organisation’s secretariat) to undertake comprehensive and detailed planning based on the situation on the ground. Although the AUPSC was apparently expected to make a decision about the post-ATMIS mission in May, its consideration of the assessment was delayed. (For background and more information, see the Somalia brief in our June 2024 Monthly Forecast and 22 June What’s in Blue story.)

Pursuant to resolution 2710, the AU was expected to withdraw 4,000 personnel by 30 June as part of the third phase of the mission’s drawdown. However, in a 16 May letter to the AUPSC, the Somali government requested a revised timeline, seeking a phased drawdown whereby 2,000 troops would leave Somalia by the end of June. It envisaged that the second batch of troops would exit by September, the exact number of which is expected to be determined by Somalia and the AU, based on the troop requirements for the follow-on mission to ATMIS.

On 20 June, the AUPSC met to discuss the AU Commission’s report on the joint strategic assessment for the post-ATMIS security arrangements, which was circulated to AUPSC members on the same day, as well as Somalia’s request for a revised timeline for ATMIS’ third phase drawdown. In a communiqué released on the next day (21 June), the AUPSC endorsed the establishment of a new AU-led and UN-authorised mission for Somalia in support of the federal government of Somalia (FGS) for post-ATMIS security arrangements. It decided that this mission must be given a strong political mandate, with its scope, size, posture, composition, and duration aligning with existing security threats, as well as the readiness and capacity of the Somali security forces to assume full security responsibilities. The AUPSC requested the AU Commission to develop financing options for this mission, in consultation with the UN, including through Security Council resolution 2719 of 21 December 2023 on the financing of AU-led peace support operations (AUPSOs). It further requested the AU Commission, in consultations with relevant stakeholders, to submit by the end of July a concept of operations (CONOPs), including on the mandate, configuration, and duration of the new mission, as well as benchmarks and timelines for the transition from ATMIS.

The AUPSC also expressed support for the FGS’ request for a revised timeline for the drawdown of 4,000 ATMIS personnel, entailing the drawdown of 2,000 troops by the end of June and the remaining 2,000 troops by September. It further requested the AU Commission, with support from relevant partners, to consider options for mobilising resources for the revised third phase drawdown.

Negotiations on the Draft Resolution

The UK circulated the initial draft of the resolution to all Council members on Monday (24 June) and invited comments until 10 am on Wednesday (26 June), a deadline later extended to 11 am at Russia’s request. Later that day, the penholder circulated the first revised draft incorporating Council members’ comments and placed it under silence procedure until noon yesterday (27 June). It appears that the “A3 plus one” members (Algeria, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and Guyana) broke silence, with China and Russia supporting the position of the “A3 plus one”. Several members submitted comments following the silence break. The UK subsequently engaged in bilateral consultations with some members, before putting a revised text directly in blue later yesterday.

It seems that the penholder sought a straightforward renewal of the authorisation for ATMIS and the UN Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS). The initial draft introduced technical updates considering Somalia’s request for a phased approach to the forthcoming drawdown of ATMIS personnel and the AUPSC decision regarding post-ATMIS security arrangements in Somalia, contained in its 21 June communiqué. Although Council members generally agreed with the penholder’s approach, disagreements apparently persisted during the negotiations on some of the language incorporated after the first and only round of comments.

The draft resolution in blue authorises AU member states to continue to deploy up to 14,626 uniformed personnel, inclusive of 1,040 police personnel, until 30 June and to complete the drawdown of 2,000 ATMIS personnel by this date, as agreed by the AU and the FGS. It further authorises AU member states to deploy up to 12,626 uniformed personnel, inclusive of 1,040 police personnel, from 1 July until 12 August.

The draft text in blue also requests the Secretary-General to continue to provide a logistical support package through UNSOS. In this regard, the Council decides to continue support for 18,900 personnel, rising to 20,900 from 1 July, from the Somali National Army or Somali Police Force on joint or coordinated operations with ATMIS, until 12 August.

The draft resolution in blue recognises the work done by the AU and Somalia thus far to establish an agreed CONOPs for an AUPSO to follow ATMIS and takes note of the AUPSC’s request for the AU Commission, in consultation with ATMIS, the FGS, and all relevant stakeholders, to finalise the CONOPs for the new mission by 31 July.

It appears that, at the request of France and Malta, the penholder incorporated a new operative paragraph in the first revised draft, encouraging the AU Commission to include in the CONOPs:

  • a coordination mechanism between all security partners of Somalia;
  • a coordination mechanism between the troop-contributing countries (TCCs), including a joint command for the mission;
  • benchmarks with clear indicators and milestones to measure progress; and
  • a comprehensive exit strategy.

It seems that the “A3 plus one” members, supported by China and Russia, opposed this language, leading them to break silence. These members apparently argued that a coordination mechanism already exists among the AU, ATMIS, and the TCCs, adding that the proposal to set up new coordination mechanism is premature and could only be determined following consultations among the FGS, the AU, ATMIS, the EU, and the TCCs. In an apparent compromise, the draft text in blue only retains language encouraging the AU to include benchmarks with clear indicators and milestones to measure progress, as well as a comprehensive exit strategy.

The draft resolution in blue signals the Council’s intention, upon receipt of the CONOPs from the AUPSC, to schedule a Security Council meeting by 2 August to review the CONOPs and next steps. It further indicates the Council’s intention to request the Secretary-General to work urgently with the AU Commission Chairperson and in consultation with Somalia, the TCCs, the EU and other donors, to finalise the overall design of the follow-on mission, including implications for the UN; to provide an estimate of the required resources and costs; and to articulate a range of options for financing the mission, including, but not limited to, the framework established by resolution 2719. On the last point, it seems that the US proposed adding language calling for considering any transitional funding requirements to implement the financing options, if they are necessary. France, however, requested the deletion of the reference to transitional funding requirements, arguing that the future mission should be discussed based on the CONOPs, before considering the transition mechanism. In an apparent compromise, the draft resolution in blue omits the phrase “transitional funding”, while retaining the rest of the proposed language.

________________________________________________________________

Post-script: On 28 June, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2741, confirming the authorisation of the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) and the extension of the drawdown of 2,000 ATMIS personnel until 12 August.

Sign up for What's In Blue emails

Subscribe to receive SCR publications