The Use of Force and Engagement by African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)

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Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


The use of force continued being as a sensitive issue in international arena. UN as well as AU increasingly engages in various peace enforcement operations that requires the use of military force as laid down in the UN Charter. In applying such force, it becomes a challenging task to strike a balance between the requirements and objectives of the mission and the relevant legal constraints of the use of force. As such it is necessary to examine AMISOM‟s legal frame work, its mandate and rules of engagement that enable to protect others or civilians and to achieve the objectives of the Mission. AMISOM has made great sacrifices to stabilize Somalia yet its use of force could not generate a result as it was envisaged as nearly a decade ago. The nature of its mandate was to focus on supporting the Transitional Federal Institutions rather than protecting civilians which tends to prioritize the Transitional Federal government over human security. It causes the rise of negative local perceptions as well as questions on its impartiality, credibility and local legitimacy. This has made it impossible to build capable and inclusive national security forces to which the people of Somalia can trust and serves as AMISOM exit strategy. AMISOM also suffers from structural and operational limitations; fragmented command and control; failure to ensure effective coordination among TCCs use of force; asymmetric threat; the failure on application of International Humanitarian and International Human Rights Law and; lack of viable remedial mechanisms. The legal basis of AMISOM use of force is also affected by the tendency of TCCs as well as internal actors to pursue their strategic interests at the expense of the mission‟s mandate. To sum up, addressing issues of civilian protection, violations of International Humanitarian and International Human Rights is crucial for AMISOM. It is also imperative to solve a lack of internal legitimacy of TFG and exert an effort to gain local ownership. It needs to deal with problems of structural and operational capability, system of command, control and coordination to harmonize operations among T/PCCs. It should also work out towards establishment of remedial mechanism to address the misuse or abuse of force.



AMISOM, Use of Force, Rules of Engagement