posted on TUE 21 FEB 2012 5:56 PM
Somalia Troop Ceiling Increase

A draft resolution authorising an increase in the troop ceiling for the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), from 12,000 to 17,731 uniformed personnel (troops and police), was put in blue this morning with adoption set for tomorrow (22 February). The draft resolution also allows an expansion of the UN support package for the mission to include reimbursement of contingent-owned equipment, as recommended by the Secretary-General’s 31 January report on Somalia (S/2012/74). It also expands AMISOM’s presence to three sectors outside Mogadishu and supports implementation of some of the key elements of the new strategic concept for AMISOM adopted by the AU Peace and Security Council on 5 January.

The most difficult issues during the negotiations on the draft resolution seemed to relate to the troop levels and the details of the support package. While the UK has been supportive of the AU requests in this instance, other European members—as well as the US—continued to have concerns about the cost of the expansion. Some also questioned the timing of the adoption, arguing that it would have been better to do so after the London Conference on Somalia on 23 February, as one of its main objectives is to review the international community’s overall approach to Somalia. However, it seems the UK, which has the lead on Somalia in the Council, was keen to have the resolution adopted before the London Conference.

Given the initial concerns of some members, there had been some speculation that the Council would authorise a smaller troop increase than requested. However, the final text seems to give the AU the number it had sought. The expansion of the support package also seems more generous than some had anticipated in the current financial climate and addresses to a large extent the AU’s past criticisms of the international community’s unwillingness to provide adequate and reliable funding for the mission.

It seems that Council members who were cautious about increasing AMISOM’s maximum force strength to the AU’s requested amount sought to emphasise the role that regional organisers and other Somali stakeholders should play in contributing to peace and stability in Somalia. The importance of strengthening the capacity of regional and subregional organisations, and the need for other AU members to consider contributing troops to AMISOM, also seems to have been a key consideration. There also appears to be an attempt at greater accountability through a new reporting requirement, requesting the AU—through the Secretary-General—to keep the Council informed, through written reports every 60 days, of the implementation of AMISOM’s mandate. With regard to the humanitarian situation in Somalia, the draft resolution reiterates the Council’s demands relating to humanitarian access. It also urges AMISOM to continue its efforts to protect civilians and welcomes the establishment of a civilian casualty tracking, analysis and response cell.

The draft resolution also spells out a set of objectives for the future review of AMISOM, including the consolidation of security “on the basis of clear military objectives integrated into a political strategy,” effective regional coordination, an effective approach to the protection of civilians and assistance to Somali security forces.

Other elements in the draft resolution include a request for the UN to work with the AU to develop a guard force within AMISOM’s mandated levels to provide protection for the international community “without further delay” (put forward in resolution 2010 of 30 September 2011). It also calls for the development of the Somali security forces and a reference to the need to develop an effective Somali police force.

Another important new element in the text is a provision which bans the importing of charcoal from Somalia, as requested by Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government in its letter to the Council of 4 January (S/2012/4). (The letter stated that “charcoal production not only destroys the environment and contributes to food insecurity, but also funds the deadly campaign being carried out by Al-Shabaab.”) This allows the imposition of targeted sanctions against those violating the ban and also expands the mandate of the Monitoring Group on Somalia.

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