September 2012 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 August 2012
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Expected Council Action

In September, the Council expects a briefing on developments in Libya and the upcoming report of the Secretary-General providing the six-month review of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), requested by resolution 2040.

In addition, Ambassador José Filipe Moraes Cabral (Portugal), chair of the Libya Sanctions Committee, is also expected to provide a regular update to the Council on the Committee’s work, including an interim report by its Panel of Experts.

UNSMIL’s mandate expires on 12 March 2013.

Key Recent Developments

On 2 July, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay briefed Council members in consultations on Libya. Pillay focused on the issue of civilian casualties resulting from NATO’s air campaign in 2011, as well as on the detainees currently being held by different revolutionary brigades. On 10 July, members of the Council issued a press statement (SC/10704) welcoming the 7 July elections for the new General National Congress (GNC). On 18 July, UNSMIL’s then head, Ian Martin, briefed the Council and said that the elections were an “extraordinary accomplishment” marred by some violent incidents, mostly in the east. Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libyan deputy permanent representative, also addressed the Council, stating that “according to all observers, the elections were free and fair and met all international standards.” The briefing was followed by consultations.

There were several notable electoral, political and constitutional developments.  According to the official results of the 7 July election, former interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril’s National Forces Alliance took 39 out of the 80 seats reserved for political parties. (The remaining 120 seats were reserved for independent candidates.) On 8 August, the National Transitional Council (NTC) ceased to exist when it handed power to the newly elected GNC. The GNC elected Mohammed Magarief as its President on 9 August with, among others, the task of appointing a new government. (The GNC must also decide on how to press ahead with the drafting of a new constitution. There remains speculation about how the 60-member constitutional committee will be formed. The GNC must also define the powers of the new President and vote for his deputies before full parliamentary elections can be held next year.)

In other developments, four staff members from the International Criminal Court (ICC) were released during a visit to Libya by ICC President Sang-Hyun Song on 2 July. (The four-person ICC defence team was detained in Zintan on 7 June following its visit to Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, son of deposed Col. Muammar Qaddafi. Defence counsel Melinda Taylor was accused of clandestinely passing Qaddafi a coded letter from a fugitive former aide, Mohammed Ismail.) On 6 July, Taylor said during a press conference that her actions in Libya were “consistent” with her legal obligations and that “these recent events have completely underscored that it will be impossible for Mr. Qaddafi to be tried in an independent and impartial manner in Libyan courts.”

On 31 July, according to a filing by his defence lawyers, Qaddafi asked to be tried at the ICC instead of in Libya. Ahmed al-Jehani, the Libyan representative to the ICC, said on 20 August that the trial would begin in Libya in September.

A number of security-related incidents continued to highlight various challenges. Foreigners were the target in several cases.

On 31 July, seven Iranian relief workers were abducted by a group of armed men in Benghazi soon after they started a mission for the Libyan Red Crescent Association.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has suspended its operations in Misrata and Benghazi after unknown individuals attacked its office in Misrata on 5 August. (This was the fifth time in less than three months that the ICRC had been targeted in Misrata or Benghazi.)

A bomb exploded near the vehicle of an Egyptian diplomat in Benghazi on 20 August, but no one was hurt.

The military has been targeted repeatedly in bomb attacks. On 1 August, a bomb damaged the building housing the department of military intelligence in Benghazi. On 4 August, a car bomb exploded near the offices of the military police in Tripoli. On 19 August, twin car-bomb blasts detonated near the Military Academy and the Interior Ministry in Tripoli, killing two people.

Targeted killings of prominent figures also continued. On 10 August, Gen. Mohamed Hadia al-Feitouri, a senior defense ministry official, was shot dead by unknown gunmen in Benghazi.

Human Rights-Related Developments

In an interview on 6 August with the UN News Service, Martin highlighted human rights, transitional justice and the rule of law as being among the key areas of work of UNSMIL. A major legacy of the past that had to be resolved was missing persons, he said.  Martin added that another ongoing problem was the continued detention of those imprisoned at the end of the conflict, when capacity to screen those cases and deal with them properly within the law did not yet exist. Subject to the views of the new government, Martin anticipated that human rights would continue to be a prime focus for the work of UNSMIL.

Key Issues

An overarching issue for the Council continues to be determining UNSMIL’s long-term role in Libya, in particular following the election of the GNC.

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

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

Preventing heavy weaponry from proliferating in Libya, as well as its continuing spillover in the Sahel region is an ongoing issue for Council members.

Underlying Problems

The pre-election divisions that existed within Libya’s political and military elite are likely to remain a cause for concern in post-election Libya.

Instances of settling old disputes between anti and pro-Qaddafi forces, often accompanied by human rights violations, continue to pose serious challenges.


An option for the Council could be to await the formation of the new government and then reconsider UNSMIL’s long-term role according to the recommendations presented in the Secretary-General’s report.

Another option for the Council could be to encourage, through a presidential statement, the GNC to recommit to long-term state-building and to re-emphasise the current mandate of UNSMIL.

Regarding human rights, rule of law and transitional justice in Libya, the Council could ask for regular briefings from UNSMIL and other relevant UN actors on issue-specific developments.

With regard to the ICC, the Council could ask for a briefing from the ICC Prosecutor to receive an update.

Council Dynamics

Council members appear to be in agreement in supporting the soon-to-be new government and are satisfied for UNSMIL to remain under the same mandate for the time being. They are mindful that any changes to UNSMIL’s mandate would have to take into account the views of the new authorities and that any revision before then would be premature.

But differences over Libya have continued within the Council. During the preparation of the press statement welcoming the elections, Russia broke silence due to concerns with parts of the text, in particular the fact that the draft text was referring to the elections as “successful”. Some other Council members also felt that this was not entirely appropriate as the voting process was not incident free. Moreover, Russia was uncomfortable with the inclusion of reference to the role of UNSMIL in the forthcoming constitutional process before the Council had held an in-depth discussion regarding UNSMIL’s post-election role.

Some Council members are alarmed by the decision to commence the trial of Qaddafi in Libya. To them, it is a clear violation of Libya’s obligations under international law and resolution 1970 that referred the situation in Libya to the ICC.

The UK is the lead country on Libya.

UN Documents 

Security Council Resolutions  
12 March 2012 S/RES/2040 This resolution 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.
17 March 2011 S/RES/1973 This resolution was adopted with ten votes and five abstentions and authorised all necessary measures—excluding an occupation force—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.
26 February 2011 S/RES/1970 This resolution referred the situation in Libya to the ICC, imposed an arms embargo and targeted sanctions (assets freeze and travel ban), and establised a sanctions commitee .
Security Council Press Statements  
10 July 2012 SC/10704 The Council welcomed Libya’s 7 July elections.
15 June 2012 SC/10674 The Council expressed concern at the detention of the ICC staff members.
Secretary-General’s Reports  
1 March 2012 S/2012/129 This was an update report on UNSMIL.
Panel of Experts Report  
17 February 2012 S/2012/163 This was the Panel of Experts report.
Security Council Meeting Record  
18 July 2012 S/PV.6807 Special Representative Ian Martin briefed the Council for the last time in his capacity saying the elections were an “extraordinary accomplishment” marred by some violent incidents, mostly in the east.
Security Council Letters  
20 June 2012 S/2012/471 This letter from the Permanent Representative of Libya concerned the arrest of an ICC delegation.
13 June 2012 S/2012/440 This letter from the Secretary-General conveyed a letter from the President of the ICC to the President of the Security Council.
Other Relevant Facts

Chair of the Sanctions Committee
José Filipe Moraes Cabral (Portugal) 

Sanctions Committee’s Panel of Experts
Simon Dilloway, UK (finance)
Theodore M. Murphy, US (regional)
Giovanna Perri, Italy (finance)
Salim Raad, Lebanon (heavy weapons)
Savannah de Tessières, France (small arms and light weapons) 

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNSMIL
Ian Martin (UK)


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