15 DECEMBER 2013


Since January 2013, Professor Ibrahim Gambari has been involved in two major assignments for the African Union Commission. Between January and April, he led the AUC's Strategic Review Team of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The objective of the review was to determine how best the Mission can further contribute to the stabilization of Somalia and to the successful implementation of the priorities set by the Somalia Government, in close coordination with an empowered and restructured National Somali Defence and Security Sector.

The Strategic Review focused on AMISOM mandate implementation; prioritization of Mission plans and activities in support of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) with particular emphasis on stabilization, governance, security sector reform, rule of law, roles and responsibilities across Missions components and sections, as well as the partnership and coordination with other actors on the ground, including the United Nations. The review provided an opportunity for the Team to make recommendations for the funding of AMISOM in a more predictable and sustainable manner.

The review team led by Professor Gambari was composed of senior African military and police officers and civilian experts with deep knowledge of Somalia. They were supported in their task by staff officers from the AU Peace and Security Department and AMISOM. The comprehensive review exercise was completed within two months and the Team made far-reaching recommendations which were subsequently endorsed by the AU Peace and Security Council. It is also instructive to note that the review made it possible for the AUC and AMISOM, not only to take stock of the achievements made to date and challenges encountered, but also to adjust to the changing environment, particularly with respect to its mandate, structure and modus operandi. The exercise largely determined the current configuration, mandate and operations of AMISOM.

Also in July 2013, Professor Gambari's expertise and experience was also sought by the AUC for its assessment of the current status of the African Standby Force (ASF) which is an integral and major part of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA).

It would be recalled that on the basis of a "Report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the Operationalization of the Rapid Deployment Capability of the African Standby Force and the Establishment of an African Capacity For Immediate Response to Crises" was submitted to the 9th Ordinary Meeting of the African Chiefs of Defense Staff held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 29 April 2013 and the Specialized Technical Committee of Ministers of Defense, Safety and Security (STCDSS) meeting held on 30 April 2013. The STCDSS directed that "the Commission, in collaboration with its Member States and relevant Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Mechanisms (RMs), conduct a comprehensive and physical assessment of the ASF, including its Rapid Deployment Capability (RDC), in order to fully implement the Decision of the 20th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union and to present a report to the next meeting of the STCDSS to be convened in the last quarter of 2013." The directive was also stressed in the Decision of the Assembly at its special summit in May 2013.

The ASF assessment was conducted in collaboration with the Regional Planning Elements of the Eastern Africa Standby Force Coordination Mechanism (EASFCOM), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the North African Regional Capability (NARC), as well as with African Union Member States.

The task of the Assessment Team, within the framework of the APSA, were: (a) to ascertain the level of progress made in the operationalization of the ASF including the Rapid Deployments Capability (RDC); (b) identify key challenges encountered in this regard, and (c) make appropriate recommendations as to the way forward within the context of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). In doing so, the Team focused its assignment on four broad areas namely: (i) Political Decision-making process; (ii) Pledged capabilities; (iii) Strategic Support (including Regional Infrastructure capacity); and (iv) Planning Elements (PLANELMs).

The Assessment Team will finalize its task and submit its report to the AUC by the end of November 2013. The report of the Team is expected to ascertain the progress made and challenges encountered in the operationalization of the ASF including the Regional Deployment Capabilities; Identify gaps, needs and outstanding requirements; Highlight issues and benchmarks, as well as provide clear and achievable recommendations for achieving the Full Operational Capability of the ASF, as envisaged by 2015. The Team's report will be considered at the next meeting of African Ministers of Defence and Security before the end of the year, and thereafter tabled for adoption at the next AU Summit in January 2014.