Originally given a mandate of six months to accomplish its duties, it has been fourteen years since the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) came into existence. On March 12, 2021, the United Nations Security Council extended AMISOM’s mandate until December 31, 2021. With plans to fully handover security responsibilities to Somali security institutions by 2023, further extension of mandates are also expected.
A December, 2019 article entitled “The positive impacts and challenges facing the African Union Mission in Somalia” by Paul D. Williams, Professor at George Washington University and part of a team that assessed AMISOM in 2018, states: “In sum, AMISOM remains unable to resolve Somalia’s fundamental problem: the country’s crisis of governance that has spawned al-Shabaab and other forms of opposition to the government.”
Williams identified finance as one of the three main challenges of AMISOM. He argued that the problem of predictable and sustainable financial resources have left soldiers serving under the Mission with less allowances than their counterparts in UN peacekeeping operations and led to the failure of the Mission’s aviation component of twelve military helicopters that were authorized by the UN Security Council in 2012.
Under the latest mandate extension, prior modalities that allowed the Security Council to provide logistical support to the Mission have been kept in place. Under resolution 2568 (2021), the Secretary-General continues to provide a logistical support package. The EU delegation to the AU located in Addis Ababa notified The Reporter that it is the “EU’s firm intention to continue to closely cooperate with the AU, a strategic partner, also on peace and security.” The delegation’s Head of Political, Press and Information matters, Patrick Dupont, explained that the first package of AMISOM funding under its extended mandate covering the first half of the year has already been provided. He also pointed out “the second package is under preparation (in view of the mandate extension of EU financial instruments).”
The European Union this week, on March 22, 2021, adopted a Euro 5 billion European Peace Facility (EPF) fund to train and equip foreign military forces across the globe. The decision is said to have opened the door for the bloc to provide military aid to friendly countries and deploy its own military missions abroad. Before the decision, EU provided peace and security funds to Africa through the African Peace Facility (APF) but that body has now given way to the European Peace Facility (EPF). It is to be recalled that EU recently passed a decision to bypass the AU and directly provide funds and military assistance to regional and national bodies. Before that decision, EU provided peace and security funds to African regional blocs through the AU.
A New York based peace and security expert The Reporter spoke to indicated that the transformation of APF to EPF leaves Africa with a smaller share of the pie. The expert analyzed that EU funds might still be allocated to AMISOM but they are most likely going to be much lower as the funds will be distributed all over the world.
It seems BREXIT had a major impact on the allocation of EU peace and security funds to Africa as Britain’s exit from the bloc pushed France’s political agenda to the fore. With the two European powers having their immense pressure on Anglophone and Francophone African countries, they balanced each other out in pursuing peace and security issues in the two group of African countries. However, Britain’s exit from the bloc unleashed France as the most powerful European state on matters of African peace and security. The replacement of the African Peace Facility with European Peace Facility is a French agenda that has come to fruition.
The peace and security expert The Reporter spoke to expects African regional ad-hoc security arrangements such as G5 Sahel that include Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger to receive enough funds directly from the EPF on account of their Francophone background. On the other hand, argues the expert, East African missions such as AMISOM that were backed mainly by the British could see funds slashed as other members of the EU with affinity to the region such as Italy are likely not going to raise as much political clout as Britain used to.
The Reporter contacted the European Union delegation to the AU located here in Addis and apparently, they are following up the matter to get explanations on the possible course of action regarding AMISOM funding.
From the days of al-Ittihad al-Islamiya through the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) to al-Shabaab, the objectives of AMISOM have not changed that much. For instance, an April 2016 report on Somalia by the secretary-general stated: “The overarching goal of the United Nations in Somalia remains close to that defined in the 2008 strategic assessment: to help improve the lives of Somalis by ending violent conflict and laying the foundations for sustainable peace and a return to normalcy.” AMISOM’s latest objective as stipulated in resolution 2568 (2021) adopted by the security council on 12 March, 2021 entails reducing the threat posed by al Shabaab and other armed opposition groups; handing over its security responsibilities to the Somali security forces; and providing security to enhance Somalia’s political process and efforts at reconciliation.
Some experts argue that the absence of a huge difference in the objectives set after all those years indicate that AMISOM has not been able to change the situation on the ground significantly. With insecurities regarding the availability of sustainable financing, attaining those goals would be more implausible.