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The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is an active, regional peacekeeping mission operated by the African Union with the approval of the United Nations in Somalia. It is mandated to support transitional governmental structures, implement a national security plan, train the Somali security forces, and to assist in creating a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian aid. As part of its duties, AMISOM also supports the Federal Government of Somalia's forces in their battle against Al-Shabaab militants.
On 21 February 2007, the United Nations Security Council authorised the African Union to deploy a peacekeeping mission with a mandate of six months. In March 2007, Ugandan military officials arrived on the ground in Somalia. On 20 August 2007, the United Nations Security Council extended the African Union's authorisation to continue deploying AMISOM for a further six months and requested the Secretary-General to explore the option of replacing AMISOM with a United Nations Peacekeeping Operation to Somalia.
Most recently, on 26 May 2017, the UN Security Council unanimously approved resolution 2355, authorising member States of the African Union to maintain the deployment of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) until 31 August 2017 with a maximum strength of 22,126 uniformed personnel.
Paying for AMISOM
How a peace operation is financed is always an important issue. But money matters for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have recently become highly politicized. This is in large part because of the complicated set of arrangements and mechanisms that are required to fund AMISOM. Particularly since mid-2015, some of these arrangements have come under pressure to change owing to a variety of factors, including the longevity of the mission, circumstances in the global economy, and other international crises on the African continent and beyond. The changes have had the predictable knock-on effect of causing political arguments between the African Union, the AMISOM troop-contributing countries (TCCs), and some of the mission’s key partners, most notably the European Union.
Paying AMISOM’s monthly allowances has become the EU’s single largest development project in Africa. The EU first started providing financial support to AMISOM in 2007. The monies came from the EU’s African Peace Facility (APF), which is part of the European Development Fund. The APF is the EU’s main source of funding to support the efforts of the AU and the African Regional Economic Communities in the area of peace and security. Since 2004, it has disbursed more than €2 billion.
When the EU first supported AMISOM it was understood, as per the AU’s wishes, that the mission would last six months before transitioning into a UN peacekeeping operation. In 2007, AMISOM had an authorized strength of 8,000 troops but only some 1,600 Ugandan troops actually deployed. The level of EU financial support to AMISOM at this stage therefore amounted to approximately €700,000 per month. By 2016, AMISOM had over 22,000 personnel and the cost to the EU was about €20 million per month. Most of this financial support was spent on troop allowances, but it was also used for other issues including death and disability compensation for AMISOM peacekeepers killed or wounded in action and indirect support costs such as supporting some AU personnel working on peace support operations in Addis Ababa and AMISOM offices in Nairobi and Mogadishu as well as with training.
In total, between 2007 and September 2016, the EU had committed nearly €1.05 billion to financially support AMISOM under the APF. The EU position remains that the AU can decide to pay AMISOM soldiers whatever rate it chooses, but the EU would, from January 2016, pay no more than €738/$822 per peacekeeper per month. The EU hoped that the AU could find another partner to fill the subsequent gap in payments. So far, a way of closing the funding gap has not been found.
To what extent, if any, might the current AMISOM funding crisis alter the strategic partnership between the AU and EU? How can other AU partners close the funding gap at a critical time in the process of stabilizing Somalia? The AU’s efforts to generate financial support for AMISOM from other partners, including China, Turkey, India, Russia, and the Gulf states, has failed to produce significant results. What would a sustainable set of financial arrangements for AMISOM entail? While the recent AU initiatives aimed at financing its own peace and security initiatives by 2020 are a positive step forward, they will not come soon enough to solve the current crisis concerning AMISOM. An alternative approach is needed and will almost certainly involve the UN.
Paul D. Williams is Associate Professor of International Affairs at George Washington University. @PDWilliamsGWU.