At press time it seemed no new initiatives in the Council were underway. However, Council members are continuing to monitor events on the ground and the implementation of resolutions 1970 and 1973 and a number of members are pursuing active agendas outside the Council. There is also a growing sense of the critical need for “end-game” strategies to coalesce around a unified international approach to avoid a protracted conflict.
The next meeting of the Libya Contact Group is anticipated for June in the United Arab Emirates. At press time no date had been set.
Key Recent Developments
At press time, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe was expected to give the monthly Libya briefing to the Council on 31 May. NATO air strikes against Libyan military capabilities under resolution 1973 continued and NATO officials seemed hopeful that a transition would begin in late June or July.
On 25 May South African President Jacob Zuma announced a bilateral visit to Tripoli on 30 May to discuss an exit strategy with Muammar Qaddafi. (Zuma is a member of the AU’s High Level Ad Hoc Committee on Libya.)
On 25 and 26 May the AU held an extraordinary summit on Libya attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and reemphasised the importance of the AU’s High Level Committee and the AU Roadmap which calls for a verifiable ceasefire and political dialogue. It seems that the issue of Qaddafi leaving power as part of a negotiated solution was broached for the first time in the context of the AU. (The previous AU plan had been presented to both Libyan parties on 10 April but was rejected by Benghazi because it did not offer a viable transition strategy.)
On 21 May the AU Peace and Security Council met in Addis Ababa with UN Security Council members where Libya was discussed. The communiqué expressed concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation, stressed the need for an immediate and verifiable ceasefire and the need for a political solution to the conflict. The communiqué welcomed the efforts of UN envoy Abdel-Elah Al-Khatib and the AU High Level Ad Hoc Committee and agreed to continue with efforts to find a solution to the crisis.
On 24 May media reports indicate there may have been systematic use of rape by Qaddafi forces during the siege of Misrata. (The UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, flagged the issue of sexual violence in her 9 May briefing to the Council as did Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict Margot Wallström on 14 April. It seems US Ambassador Susan Rice raised similar concerns during 28 April consultations on Libya.)
On 24 May a high-level delegation visited Benghazi and invited the Transitional National Council (TNC) to open an office in Washington DC. Reports indicate the US closed its embassy in Tripoli and asked representatives of Qaddafi to leave Washington DC. On 19 May US President Barack Obama in his Middle East speech characterised the TNC as credible and legitimate and said that Libya’s transition will come when Qaddafi leaves or is forced from power.
On 23 May, TNC head Mustafa Jalil met with the Turkish prime minister, president and foreign minister. Turkey reiterated its 3 May call for Qaddafi to step down and said the TNC was a legal and credible representative of the Libyan people. (Turkey has been playing a mediating role and is a member of the Contact Group and NATO. There has been no formal coordination with AU mediation efforts but Turkey has said it has presented its roadmap to the international community and is willing to contribute to any peace initiative.)
On 22 May the EU opened an office in Benghazi pledging long-term support to the TNC.
On 17 May reports indicate that Tripoli’s oil minister Shokri Ghanem was in Tunisia and may have defected from Qaddafi’s regime.
On 16 May ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked the Court’s pre-trial chamber to issue arrest warrants for Qaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam Qaddafi and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanousi for their roles in conducting widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population, arbitrary arrest and torture, and recruitment of mercenaries. Investigations are ongoing in relation to allegations of mass rape by Qaddafi forces and attacks against sub-Saharan Africans mistaken for mercenaries in Benghazi controlled areas. (Ocampo briefed the Council on 4 May.)
On 15 May Khatib visited Tripoli where he met with several high-level officials, but not with Qaddafi as had been previously expected. (On 3 May Khatib briefed the Council and said that both Benghazi and Tripoli wanted a ceasefire but there remained fundamental differences regarding any political process which the TNC has linked to Qaddafi’s departure.)
On 10 May the Libyan situation was brought up during the open debate on protection of civilians.
On 5 May the Libya Contact Group met in Rome and:
- confirmed that Qaddafi, his family and his regime have lost legitimacy;
- reasserted the central role of UN envoy Khatib in reaching a political solution;
- endorsed a temporary financial mechanism to channel funds to Benghazi;
- agreed that the TNC is a legitimate interlocutor, and in that context;
- urged the Libya Sanctions Committee to unfreeze Libyan assets to address humanitarian needs; and
- considered the advisability of establishing humanitarian corridors and maritime corridors.
Developments in the Libya Sanctions Committee
In April, the Committee received proposals from France, Germany, the UK and the US on additional designations which are currently subject to various “holds” from Russia and the US. (Russia asked for time for the listings to be studied in Moscow. The US is lifting its holds on a case by case basis as it compiles the requisite evidence to apply the measures domestically.) China and India have lifted their previous holds. The Sanctions Committee is expected to meet in early June. However, there is no clear time frame for when the additional listings might be approved.
In June, member states are due to submit their reports to the Committee on implementation of the Libya sanctions regime (due within 120 days of resolution 1970’s 26 February adoption).
Human Rights-Related Developments
- whether the Council should play a more active role in political initiatives to secure an “end-game” in Libya; and
- the divergence among members regarding the interpretation of resolution 1973.
Potential issues for the Council in the future include:
- the humanitarian impact of the conflict and the sanctions and any related pressure to alleviate the impact on the population under Qaddafi’s control;
- a UN role in any ceasefire monitoring mechanism and cooperation with the AU in that regard; and
- a UN role in post-conflict Libya.
A second option is briefings from:
- UN Special Envoy Khatib (the Secretary-General announced on 25 May Khatib would be visiting Tripoli soon);
- Special Representative Wallström on the alleged sexual violence aspects of the conflict; and
- a representative from the AU High Level Ad Hoc Committee on their mediation efforts.
Another option if mediation efforts seem to be gaining traction is to ask the Secretariat to brief on the progress in their post-conflict planning.
The option to designate more individuals and entities under the sanctions regime is still on the table in the Sanctions Committee.
Other Council members would welcome a genuine ceasefire. However, there remains a divergence on whether a ceasefire without a credible political process would solve the problem in Libya or instead might simply create an indefinite stalemate with prolonged suffering for the people.
There is also increasing concern on both sides of this divide that the Libya conflict may become protracted especially if there is continued drift between the Contact Group and AU approach. However, efforts at integration have been problematic. It seems that the Libya portion of the 21 May communiqué in Addis Ababa was difficult to negotiate due to sensitivity about Khatib’s leadership role versus the AU High Level Committee. (The 5 May meeting of the Contact Group on Libya had previously agreed that Khatib should be the focal point for all mediation efforts whereas the AU concerns were that this approach could sideline the AU’s role.)
South Africa’s initiative for Zuma to visit Tripoli on 30 May to discuss an exit strategy with Qaddafi may help to bring the two approaches closer.
There seems to be continued wide support among Council members for contingency planning by the UN Secretariat for an impartial post-conflict UN presence, including ceasefire monitoring (provided it was mobile with access to all parts of the country versus monitoring an arbitrary line).
Security Council Resolutions
Security Council Meeting Records
Security Council Letters
Human Rights Council
Chair of the UN Libya Sanctions Committee
Ambassador José Filipe Moraes Cabral (Portugal)
Panel of Experts of the Libya Sanctions Committee
UN Special Envoy
Abdel-Elah Mohamed Al-Khatib (Jordan)
Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry
Cherif Bassiouni (Egypt); Asma Khader (Jordanian/Palestinian); Philippe Kirsch (Canada)
AU High Level Ad-Hoc Committee
Heads of state of Congo, Mali, Mauritania, South Africa, Uganda and the chair of the AU Commission
Libya Contact Group
Bahrain; Belgium and the Netherlands share a rotating seat; Canada; France; Germany; Greece; Italy; Japan; Jordan; Kuwait; Lebanon; Malta; Morocco; a Nordic seat shared by Denmark, Norway and Sweden; Poland; Qatar; Spain; Turkey; United Arab Emirates; UK; USA and representatives from the Arab League, EU, GCC, NATO, OIC and the UN; the AU attends as an invitee; Observers include OCHA and the World Bank
Commander for NATO Operations under Resolution 1973
Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard (Canada)