posted on MON 23 MAY 2011 6:03 PM
Consultative Meeting between members of the Council and the AU

Members of the Security Council and AU Peace and Security Council held a joint consultative meeting on 21 May in Addis Ababa. (These annual consultations alternate between the UN and the AU’s headquarters.) On the agenda were crisis situations, Libya, Côte d’Ivoire, Somalia and Sudan as well as strengthening of the methods of work and improving cooperation between the UN and AU. A communiqué was adopted at the end of the meeting. Unlike previous communiqués, this one was focused more on substantive issues than procedural matters.

On Libya the communiqué expresses concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation and stressed the need for an immediate and verifiable ceasefire. It also stresses the need for a political solution to the conflict. The communiqué welcomes the efforts of UN envoy Abdel-Elah Al-Khatib and the AU High Level Ad Hoc Committee and agrees to continue their efforts in support of the UN and in accordance with resolution 1973 to find a solution to the crisis. It seems that this section of the Libya portion of the communiqué was particularly difficult to negotiate due to sensitivity about Khatib’s leadership role versus the AU High Level Committee ( which is made up of African heads of state). (The 5 May meeting of the Contact Group on Libya had previously agreed that Khatib should be the focal point for all mediation efforts and it seems there were some AU concerns that this approach could sideline the AU’s role. )The UN Security Council will next consider the issue of Libya on 31 May when it is likely that Khatib will brief on his 15 May visit to Tripoli where he met with several high-level officials, but not with Qaddafi as had been previously expected.

The Somalia portion of the communiqué focuses on the political process, the role of and support for the AU Mission for Somalia (AMISOM) and piracy. It reiterates the need for a comprehensive strategy “in line with the Djibouti agreement” and expresses grave concern at the continuing instability in Somalia, the grave humanitarian situation, the suffering of the Somali people, terrorism, recruitment of child soldiers and piracy. It puts pressure on Somali stakeholders to participate in the upcoming consultative meeting to be held in Mogadishu (currently scheduled for 11 to 16 June). The communiqué stresses the importance of reliable resources for the AU military operation, AMISOM, and calls on the international community “ to make contributions urgently to AMISOM, without caveats.” (This formulation seems to be much less than the AU side were hoping for.) With regard to piracy, the communiqué notes the request for a Secretary-General’s report on piracy issues including the protection of Somali natural resources and the allegations of illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste off the coast of Somalia. (The report is due on 11 October according to resolution 1976.)

The issue of funding for AMISOM continues to be a difficult one. The AU had pushed on the need for reimbursement costs of contingent-owned equipment hoping the UN might pick this up in addition to the current logistical support package. The AU side also wanted more specific language on the need to ensure the deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation to take over from AMISOM. But in the end none of these proposals, which reflect long-held AU positions, made it into the final communiqué.

On Sudan the communiqué (which was issued just before the military attack on Abyei by Khartoum) urges the parties to reach agreement on outstanding CPA issues and post-CPA consultations processes under the auspices of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki. Concern was expressed over violence in the Abyei Area and Darfur. The communiqué also calls for the government of Sudan and the armed movements to “contribute to the necessary enabling environment for the Darfur Political Process (DPP)” and highlights the requirements of this environment. It seems there were some differences over the DPP and whether to endorse a launch of the DPP as soon as possible. It appears there was not enough agreement to include this idea in the final text.