January 2013 Monthly Forecast

Posted 21 December 2012
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Expected Council Action

In January, the Council will likely be briefed on the situation in Libya via videoconference by Tarek Mitri (Lebanon), Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), followed by consultations.

The briefing is expected to serve as an opportunity to discuss Libya and UNSMIL in the lead-up to the likely renewal of the mission before its mandate expires on 12 March 2013.

No Council action is expected in January.  

Key Recent Developments

As highlighted by Mitri during his last Council briefing on 8 November, there have been a number of welcome developments on the political front in Libya over the past six months, including the successful elections on 7 July and the handover of the National Transitional Council (NTC) to the democratically elected General National Congress (GNC). Since then, Ali Zeidan was elected prime minister, and the formation of the new government was completed on 31 October.

The next key milestone for Libya will be the drafting of its constitution, which most agree must be an inclusive process that should move ahead swiftly. Current discussions on the composition of the Constitutional Commission are focused on how to select its sixty members. The current proposal draws twenty members each from three provinces, although no agreement has yet been reached on whether to elect or appoint members on a regional basis.

Security remains a key issue in Libya. A number of armed rebel groups continue to operate throughout the country, as demonstrated by attacks during the past months around Tripoli and Benghazi and in Bani Walid, the south and the east. A related issue is the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of armed groups, which continues to pose challenges.

While there has been progress in terms of long-term defence-sector reform, challenges remain in addressing pressing security issues. There is a need for the adoption of interim security measures while the new national defence and police forces are being built. This includes the development of an arms control programme to address concerns about border security and arms being trafficked from Libya to fuel other crises in the region such as those in the Sahel and Syria.

Three months after the 11 September attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, US officials investigating the attack have suggested that Libya is reluctant to move against Islamist extremist suspects who belong to militia groups. A decision has not yet been made on whether to try suspects connected with the attack in Libyan or American courts.

The more than 7,000 conflict-related detainees who are currently being held in Libya remains a difficult issue. When Mitri last briefed the Council, he urged the government to accelerate the screening of detainees as well as to investigate cases of detention mistreatment and torture. To date, little progress has been made in this critical area of judicial reform.

On 7 December, ICC judges requested information from Libya regarding the status of investigations in the case of Saïf al-Islam Qaddafi—an ICC indictee, currently being held in Zintan. The ICC has given Libya until 23 January 2013 to “provide concrete, tangible and pertinent evidence…to demonstrate to this Chamber that proper investigations are currently ongoing and proper and concrete preparations for the trial are ongoing.”

Human Rights-Related Developments

A two-day conference on truth-seeking and reconciliation in Libya organised by the Fact-Finding and Reconciliation Commission and the Human Rights Committee of the GNC in partnership with UNSMIL and UNDP was held in Tripoli on 12 and 13 December. Addressing the conference, Mitri said that seeking truth and reconciliation can restrain revenge and collective punishment tendencies but that this should not be perceived as a call for amnesty for past crimes. He stressed that truth and reconciliation alone are not enough and that for them to be mutually reinforcing and effective, justice must be achieved.

Key Issues

An overarching issue for the Council continues to be the precarious security situation in Libya, particularly the continued attacks by armed rebel groups throughout the country, as well as security-sector reform and the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of former combatants.

A related issue connected to border security is the countering of arms movements in and out of Libya. This flow of arms has been linked to crises in the Sahel and Syria.

Strengthening the justice system to ensure the transfer of detainees to state custody and compliance with international standards is another pressing issue.

A further issue for Council members is what UNSMIL’s supporting technical role will be in relation to the GNC, the Constitutional Commission and the truth and reconciliation process.

Another significant issue is how to respond if the ICC makes a ruling on jurisdiction that does not please Libya.


One option for the Council is to issue a press or presidential statement that would contain some or all of the following elements:

  • welcoming political progress made;
  • urging Libya to ensure inclusivity, to reach agreement on the composition of the Constitutional Commission and to move swiftly on the drafting process;
  • urging the government to accelerate the screening of detainees; and
  • calling on the government to provide the ICC with sufficient information on the status of investigations in the case against Saïf al-Islam Qaddafi.

Taking no action at this moment and instead waiting until the renewal of UNSMIL’s mandate on 12 March, is another option.

Council Dynamics

Council members are generally in agreement that the principal elements of UNSMIL’s work as outlined in resolution 2040 remain relevant.

Regarding the ICC, while Council members would prefer that Qaddafi as well as a second ICC indictee, Abdullah al-Senussi, be tried at the ICC, some members have expressed satisfaction about the manner in which Libya has respected the requirements of the ICC in their insistence in trying them domestically.

Some Council members have generally applauded the UN’s efforts during 2011 and 2012, pointing to the useful role UNSMIL has played in serving as a coordination point for channelling donors’ goodwill and assistance. Some members express their hope that UNSMIL will continue its work in this regard.

The UK is the lead country on Libya.

UN Documents on Libya

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.
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 .
Secretary-General’s Report  
30 August 2012 S/2012/675 This was a report of the Secretary-General on UNSMIL (Libya).
Security Council Letters  
11 September 2012 S/2012/700 This was a letter from the President of the Council on the appointment of Mitri as the new Special Representative and head of UNSMIL.
10 September 2012 S/2012/699 This was a letter from the Secretary-General informing the Council of the appointment of Mitri as the new Special Representative and head of UNSMIL.
Security Council Meeting Records  
8 November 2012 S/PV.6857 This was a briefing by Special Representative Tareq Mitri.
7 November 2012 S/PV.6855 This was the latest briefing by Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, on its work in Libya.
Security Council Press Statement  
12 September 2012 SC/10761 This press statement condemned the attack on the US’s diplomatic mission and personnel in Benghazi, Libya, on 11 September, which resulted in the deaths of four American diplomatic personnel, including the Ambassador.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNSMIL
Tarek Mitri (Lebanon)

UNSMIL Size and Composition
Strength as of 30 September 2012: 136 international civilians; 23 local civilians; one police

UNSMIL Duration
16 September 2011 to present