Expected Council Action
In November, the Council is due to receive the Secretary-General’s report on the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and is expected to be briefed by Jeffrey Feltman, the head of the Department of Political Affairs, on the situation in Libya. As chair of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee, Ambassador José Filipe Moraes Cabral (Portugal) is expected to brief the Council on the work of the Committee in consultations.
The semi-annual International Criminal Court (ICC) briefing is also scheduled for November, with Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda expected to update the Council on recent developments concerning Libya.
UNSMIL’s mandate expires on 16 March 2013.
Key Recent Developments
Recent security-related incidents have highlighted the myriad of challenges Libya is facing.
On 11 September the US consulate in Benghazi was attacked and four American diplomats were killed, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. On 16 September, Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif said that foreigners affiliated with Al-Qaida who had infiltrated Libya over the preceding months had planned the attack, using Libyans, including from the Islamist militia Ansar al-Sharia, to carry it out.
Feltman addressed the Council the next day, with Deputy Permanent Representative Ibrahim Dabbashi (Libya) also addressing the Council and stating that Libya strongly condemned the attack “carried out by extremists”. In a press statement (SC/10761), the Council condemned the attack in the strongest terms.
On 17 October, clashes began between pro-government militias and fighters in Bani Walid, a former stronghold of the late Muammar Qaddafi. Government forces and militias besieged the town following the death of Omran Shaban, a former rebel credited with having captured Qaddafi on 20 October 2011. The Warfalla tribe controlling Bani Walid has been accused of kidnapping and torturing Shaban. Violence peaked on 20 October when 26 people were killed and more than 200 wounded. The following day some 200 people stormed the grounds of the Parliament in Tripoli demanding an end to violence. On 24 October pro-government forces reportedly captured the town, but on 30 October Defense Minister Osama al-Jueili said that the army had no control over Bani Walid and that armed groups were preventing residents from returning to the town.
On 22 October, Russia circulated a draft press statement on the escalation of violence around Bani Walid and the civilian casualties. Council members met the next day to receive a briefing on the situation from Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Taye-Brook Zerihoun. No statement was adopted following the meeting.
There continue to be notable electoral and political developments in Libya. On 14 October the General National Congress (GNC) elected Ali Zidan—who had lost to el-Megarif in a congressional vote for the presidency on 9 August—as the interim Prime Minister. Zidan, a human rights lawyer, replaced Mustafa Abushagur, who spent less than a month in office after failing to gain the congressional approval for his cabinet. Zidan presented his 30-member cabinet to the GNC to be approved in a 30 October vote. Dozens of civilians and formers rebels who were unhappy with the cabinet composition stormed the assembly during the vote, forcing congress to postpone the voting process. At press time it was unclear whether the cabinet would be approved. Meanwhile, the GNC has yet to decide on the composition of the Constituent Assembly that will draft the new Libyan constitution.
Libya continues to refuse to extradite Saif al-Islam Qaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi two key members of the former regime, to face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. It remains adamant that both indictees must be tried in Libya, where they would face the death penalty.
On 9-10 October, Libya appeared at a hearing in The Hague on its challenge to the jurisdiction of the ICC over Qaddafi and al-Senussi. In order for Libya to abide by the rules of the ICC and the will of the Council, it must convince the Pre-Trial Chamber that trials held in Libya will be fair. Lawyers for Libya told the Pre-Trial Chamber that a team of 12 investigators is collecting evidence against Qaddafi, and said he may be tried jointly with al-Senussi. ICC prosecutors said that the court needed more tangible proof that Libya could hold a fair trial, and that it would be appropriate to give Libya additional time. The ICC is expected to rule on the issue within the next few months.
The proliferation of Libyan arms in the region remains a cause for concern. On 24 October, Egypt intercepted two trucks smuggling weapons in from Libya. In mid–October media reports indicated that most of the shoulder-fired missiles in Syrian rebel arsenals are from Libya, having been smuggled into the country through Turkey without official blessing. On 14 September, a shipment of Libyan weapons arrived in Turkey to be delivered to armed groups in Syria. It was reported that the 400-ton cargo included surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades.
The 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee issued an implementation assistance notice on 15 October, containing information aimed at assisting member states in implementing the arms embargo on Libya. It focused on the reporting of detections of violations to the Committee.
On 12 September Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment of Tarek Mitri (Lebanon) to succeed Ian Martin (UK) as the Special Representative and head of UNSMIL as of 18 October.
An overarching issue for the Council continues to be determining what UNSMIL’s long-term role in Libya should be, particularly once a government has been formed.
Halting the proliferation of Libyan arms in the Sahel and beyond, and particularly Syria, is an ongoing issue for Council members.
Preventing large-scale reprisals and killings in a post-conflict Libya, as well as concerns about human rights violations are important issues for the Council.
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.
After decades of divide-and-rule tactics utilised by the previous regime, Libyan society remains highly fragmented. Intercommunal grievances abound, and the security situation will remain precarious until central authorities have the military and political capacity needed to extend sovereignty and state control throughout the entire Libyan territory.
One option is to follow up the series of Libya-related events in November with a presidential or press statement to communicate certain political messages to Libya, including encouraging it to complete the process of government formation expeditiously to allow the drafting of the constitution to begin.
It is also possible that Council members will opt to take a wait-and-see approach and simply receive the briefings without adopting any formal outcomes.
While sharing a common concern for the situation in Libya, most Council members feel that at this time there is little that the Council can do until a government has been fully formed in Libya. Once that transpires, the Council can revisit UNSMIL’s mandate and begin to explore the future role of the mission.
Generally, the P3 and other Council members that supported resolution 1973 have been reluctant to highlight the challenges in post-Qaddafi Libya, as demonstrated by their reluctance to endorse the 22 October Russian draft press statement on Bani Walid.
Some Council members remain alarmed by the decision to commence the trials of Qaddafi and al-Senussi in Libya. To them, it is a violation of resolution 1970 and more general obligations under international law. On the occasion of the 17 October open debate on the ICC, several Council members urged Libya to cooperate with the ICC on this matter.
The UK is the lead country on Libya.
UN Documents on Libya
|Security Council Resolutions|
|12 March 2012 S/RES/2040||renewed UNSMIL’s mandate.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|12 September 2012 SC/10761||condemned the attack on the US’s diplomatic mission and personnel in Benghazi.|
|12 September 2012 SC/10760||followed Jeffrey Feltman’s briefing on the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|17 October 2012 S/PV.6849||was the open debate on the promotion and strengthening of the rule of law, with a focus on the ICC.|
|18 July 2012 S/PV.6807||was the latest briefing by Ian Martin.|
|16 May 2012 S/PV.6772||was the latest briefing by ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo and the open debate on Libya.|
|Security Council Letters|
|10 September 2012S/2012/699||was a letter from the Secretary-General informing the Council of the appointment of Tarek Mitri (Lebanon) as the new Special Representative and head of UNSMIL.|
|20 June 2012 S/2012/471||was a letter from the Permanent Representative of Libya transmitting the Memorandum of Arrest of the ICC delegation.|
|15 October 2012 SC/10791||was a press release on the implementation assistance notice established by the Libya Sanctions Committee on resolution 1970.|