May 2012 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 April 2012
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Expected Council Action
In May, the Council is expected to be briefed by Ian Martin, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on the latest developments in Libya.

The Council is also likely to receive a briefing from Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC Prosecutor, as requested in resolution 1970.

UNSMIL’s mandate expires on 16 March 2013.

Key Recent Developments
On 29 February, Martin briefed the Council via video-conference from Tripoli. He said that, according to Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib, the most critical challenges facing Libya were border security, weapons proliferation, security, and human rights violations, with the most pressing being the need to strengthen the security and defence forces. During the same briefing, the chair of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee, Ambassador José Filipe Moraes Cabral (Portugal), presented the final report of the Panel of Experts (S/2012/163) as requested in resolution 1973, and a working document of the Panel of Experts to serve as the basis for the Committee’s report pursuant to resolution 2017. Ambassador Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham (Libya), who also spoke, requested the release of the remainder of Libya’s frozen assets.

On 7 March, Martin presented the Secretary-General’s latest report to the Council (S/2012/129), recommending that UNSMIL focus on five areas: democratic transition, including the electoral process; public security, including demobilisation and integration or reintegration of ex-combatants; human rights, transitional justice and rule of law; proliferation of arms and border security; and coordination of international support. He also called for the extension of UNSMIL’s mandate for 12 months. El-Keib also participated in the meeting and asked the Council to lift the arms embargo against Libya.  

On 12 March, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2040, modifying and extending UNSMIL’s mandate by 12 months, with a clause to review and adjust the mandate within six months. The mandate of the Panel of Experts was also adjusted and extended for another year. Libya reiterated the requests for lifting of sanctions and the arms embargo during the same session.

Sporadic fighting has continued. On 27 February, more than 100 people were reported dead and several wounded in the ongoing clashes between the Zwai and Tabu tribes in the southeastern town of Al-Kufra.

Approximately 150 people were reported killed and many wounded, in the area of Sabha, during clashes between members of the Tabu tribe and the Sabha militias, beginning on 26 March and lasting for a week.

On 4 April, UNSMIL voiced its concern, in a press release, at the ongoing clashes between fighters from al-Jumail and the Zuwara militia that reportedly led to 18 killed and many injured.

An UNSMIL convoy carrying Martin in Benghazi was attacked, on 10 April, with a homemade explosive device. No one was hurt.

Post-conflict Libya continues to face varied challenges. On 6 March, more than 3,000 people attended a meeting in Benghazi and declared autonomy for eastern Libya (Cyrenaica). (Libya, post-independence in 1951, was split in three federal regions—Cyrenaica, Tripolitana and Fezzan—until it became a unitary state in 1963. Cyrenaica contains an estimated two-thirds of the oil reserves.) The attendees elected Ahmed Zubair al-Senussi, a member of the National Transitional Council (NTC), as the leader of the newly declared region. On 16 March, one person was reported dead and five wounded when violence erupted at a rally between proponents and opponents of federalism in Benghazi. 

Mohammed al-Harizi, spokesman for the NTC, said on 10 April that the payment of rewards to rebels had been stopped due to violations. (The NTC had been handing out cash payments of approximately $3,250 to rebels to encourage them to join the official institutions and hand in their weapons.) On the same day, armed groups fired their weapons at the NTC headquarters in Tripoli as a sign of protest.

On 11 April, Nuri al-Abbar, a spokesman of Libya’s electoral committee, warned that legislation on forming political parties must be adopted soon if June elections were to be held on time.  

On 17 April, al-Harizi told media that the NTC was reviewing the performance of some government ministers and hinted at the possibility that there might be a reshuffle soon.

The report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Libya, published on the website of the Human Rights Council (HRC) on 2 March, stated that both pro and anti-Qaddafi forces had committed war crimes in Libya. The report noted concern at the failure to hold these individuals accountable and that some were still committing serious violations. The document concluded that NATO had “conducted a highly precise campaign” but recommended further investigation in instances where civilian casualties and strikes on non-military targets were reported. On 5 March, NATO Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said that no statement could be made about civilian casualties as “it was unable to verify the figures.”

On 16 March, Abdullah al-Senussi, former intelligence chief and the late Col. Muammar Qaddafi’s brother-in-law, was arrested in Mauritania upon arrival on a flight from Morocco. Soon thereafter, his extradition was separately requested by Libya, France and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Xavier-Jean Keïta , the chief defence counsel of the ICC, on 12 April, called on the ICC to make a formal complaint to the Council over Libya’s refusal to hand over Saif al-Islam Qaddafi. On 19 April, El-Keib told reporters after a meeting with the ICC prosecutor that Saif Qaddafi was being treated according to human rights guidelines.

Lawyers for Abdul Hakim Belhaj, head of the Tripoli Military Council, and Sami al-Saadi, a Libyan dissident, were reported to have served legal papers on Jack Straw, a former UK Foreign Secretary, on 18 April. (Legal action has already been taken in the UK High Court to sue the UK government, its security forces and Sir Mark Allen, a retired senior intelligence officer, for complicity in torture, misfeasance in public office and negligence. They stand accused of direct involvement in the unlawful rendition of Belhaj and al-Saadi to Qaddafi’s security services in 2004.)

In another significant development, the Zintan militia handed over control of Tripoli’s international airport to the Libyan authorities on 20 April. (Zintan militia had been in control of the airport since the fall of Tripoli on 22 August 2011.)

Human Rights-Related Developments
During its March session, the HRC adopted without a vote a resolution on assistance for Libya in the human rights field. The HRC welcomed the Constitutional Charter for the Transitional Stage in Libya of 3 August 2011 in which the promotion and protection of human rights were core elements. It also encouraged the transitional government to investigate human rights violations, while recognising limited availability of resources. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was asked, in collaboration with the transitional government and upon its request, to explore ways of cooperating on human rights matters, including technical assistance and capacity-building, and to report to the HRC at its March 2013 session.

Key Issues
Dealing with Libya’s assets freeze and the arms embargo in an efficient manner is a key issue for the Council.

Ensuring that the forthcoming elections are held in an acceptable and timely manner is another key issue for the Council.  

An overarching issue for the Council continues to be the determination of UNSMIL’s long-term role in Libya.

Preventing large-scale reprisals and killings in a post-conflict Libya as well as preventing human rights violations and reported torture of detainees are closely related issues for the Council.

The prevention of proliferation of heavy weaponry in Libya as well as the spillover effect in the Sahel region remains an issue for Council members.

The Council’s role in the implementation of resolution 1970 with regard to its referral of the Libyan situation to the ICC, and any referral-related trials, is another important issue.

The continued coordination of efforts of various stakeholders and other international bodies in supporting the interim government is a long-term issue.

Underlying Issues
The divisions within the NTC, as well as questions about the competence of the interim government, have become a growing concern.

A growing problem is instances of settling old disputes between pro and anti-Qaddafi forces, often accompanied by human rights violations.

On matters concerning existing sanctions against Libya, the Council could ask for a briefing from the Libya Sanctions Committee and, if it deems necessary, lift its sanctions in a new resolution.

Another option for the Council could be to ask for regular briefings from UNSMIL on the practical applications of human rights, rule of law and transitional justice in Libya and any other developments in this regard.

With regard to the ICC, the Council could recall, in a statement, obligations that Libya and other states have to the ICC under resolution 1970, following the briefing from the ICC prosecutor. 

Council Dynamics
Civilian casualties as a result of NATO’s air operations over Libya has become a recurring issue. Russia, in particular, has called for a joint UN-NATO inquiry as it believes that the Council is obliged to investigate this matter given that resolution 1973 had authorised member states “to take all necessary measures” to protect civilians.

Other Council members deem it necessary to look beyond the scope of resolutions 1970 and 1973, and NATO-caused casualties.  Mindful that the situation in Libya remains fragile, they feel that the Council needs to focus on issues such as the role of the ICC in Libya, ongoing challenges to the NTC’s authority, talks of potential reshuffle in the Libyan interim government and the progress regarding forthcoming elections.

South Africa, Russia and China are insistent that the Council should acknowledge the adverse effects of the situation in Libya on the Sahel region, in particular as the key trigger of the recent instability in Mali. However, other Council members, notably France, the UK, and the US are against drawing the connection, insisting instead that the issue is now about finding a solution to the problems.

Council members are also aware of the considerable challenges that Libyan authorities face. Nevertheless, some members feel that the NTC must do more to extend its authority over armed militias as well as prevent widespread human rights violations of prisoners and internally displaced persons.

The UK is the lead country on Libya.

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UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/2040 (12 March 2012) extended the mandate of UNSMIL and the Panel of Experts by 12 months, with a requirement to review and adjust the mandate within six months.
  • S/RES/2022 (2 December 2011) extended the mandate of UNSMIL until 16 March 2012 and asked UNSMIL to assist the Libyan authorities in addressing the threat of proliferation of arms, in particular MANPADS.
  • S/RES/2017 (31 October 2011) discussed the non-proliferation of MANPADS; chemical weapons stockpiles and other small arms.
  • S/RES/2016 (27 October 2011) lifted the no-fly zone and the provisions for the use of force for the protection of civilians.
  • S/RES/2009 (16 September 2011) authorised the deployment of UNSMIL and partially lifted sanctions.
  • S/RES/1973 (17 March 2011) authorised all necessary measures to protect civilians in Libya and enforce the arms embargo, imposed a no-fly zone, strengthened the sanctions regime and established a panel of experts.
  • S/RES/1970 (26 February 2011) referred the situation in Libya to the ICC, imposed an arms embargo and targeted sanctions and established a sanctions committee.

Secretary-General’s Report

Latest Panel of Experts Report


  • S/2012/240 (18 April 2012) was from the Secretary-General to the president of the Council noting the appointment of the Panel of Experts pursuant to resolution 2040.
  • S/2012/139 (7 March 2012) transmitted from the Secretary-Generaal El-Keib’s letter to the president of the Council.

Other Relevant Facts

Chair of the Sanctions Committee

José Filipe Moraes Cabral (Portugal)

Sanctions Committee’s Panel of Experts

  1. Simon Dilloway, UK (finance)
  2. Theodore M. Murphy, US (humanitarian and regional)
  3. Giovanna Perri, Italy (finance)
  4. Salim Raad, Lebanon (heavy weapons)
  5. Savannah de Tessières, France (small arms and light weapons)

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNSMIL

Ian Martin (UK)

Full Forecast

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