Tomorrow (26 May, 2017), the Security Council will adopt a resolution renewing the authorisation of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which expires on 31 May. The Council has opted to adopt a three-month technical rollover of the authorisation until 31 August, to allow Council members time to consider the forthcoming recommendations of the joint AU-UN Joint Strategic Review of the mission, which is expected to be received in July. The review will provide an opportunity to review and potentially redefine the mission’s tasks, and will contain options for the reconfiguration of AMISOM, which, if accepted by both the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) and the UN Security Council, will shape the mandate at the next renewal in August.
On 28 April, the AU PSC met to consider the situation in Somalia and renewed the mandate of AMISOM until 30 November 2017. The PSC communiqué that followed the meeting underscored the importance of the upcoming AU-UN joint review in defining the future of the AMISOM presence in Somalia. The PSC also emphasised the need for requisite resourcing of AMISOM to fulfill its current mandate. In this regard, it reiterated its call for securing complementary, predictable and sustainable funding for the mission, including through UN assessed contributions, within the framework of an enhanced partnership following the signing by the UN Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the AU Commission of a Joint AU-UN Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security. (The Framework was signed during the recent UN-AU Annual Conference held on 19 April in New York.) The communiqué also looked forward to receiving and considering the report by the Commission on the recent conduct of a Ten-Year Lessons Learned Study on AMISOM.
The Council has also begun discussions on a review of the sanctions measures on Eritrea, in line with its intentions outlined in resolution 2317 of 10 November 2016. This resolution was adopted following receipt of the final report of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG), which for the third year in a row had found no evidence that Eritrea was supporting the Al-Shabaab terrorist group. During negotiations on the resolution, China proposed language requesting the SEMG to present a report within 120 days to the Committee on recommendations for lifting sanctions imposed on Eritrea, including benchmarks and a timeframe. This proposal was supported by Angola, Egypt, Russia and Venezuela. However, this was not acceptable to some members. As penholder, the UK, brokered a compromise text that included expressing the Council’s “intention to review measures on Eritrea in light of the upcoming midterm update by the SEMG due by 30 April 2017 and taking into account relevant Security Council resolutions”, which some members preferred as it did not prejudge the outcome of the review. Angola, China, Egypt, Russia and Venezuela all abstained, and the resolution was adopted with only ten affirmative votes.
On 17 May, Council members met in consultations to discuss the review. The UK apparently wanted to take stock of the positions of all members in this meeting, with the intention of drafting a presidential statement that would enshrine a road map on the way forward on Eritrea sanctions. Council members met again earlier today to brainstorm potential elements of such a text. It appears that several members are on board with this plan; however, there are divergences over the purpose of this exercise, and differences of view concerning how much value such a draft would add to the Council’s involvement on this issue, as several of the elements being discussed are addressed in previous resolutions. While a text would probably not change existing requirements on Eritrea, it could include confidence-building measures and ideas for improving the Council’s engagement with Asmara. Negotiations on a presidential statement, which would require consensus for adoption, will continue next week and may prove challenging, given the divisions among Council members on how to approach the review of Eritrea sanctions.