Expected Council Action
In March, the Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). Tarek Mitri, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNSMIL, is expected to present the Secretary-General’s latest report on UNSMIL and brief the Council on the latest developments on the ground. Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan is also likely to address the Council.
The Council will also likely renew the mandate of the Panel of Experts (PoE) assisting the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee. At press time, the Council will have received the Panel’s final report and is expecting the periodic briefing by the chair of the Committee, Ambassador Eugene-Richard Gasana (Rwanda).
The mandates of both UNSMIL and the Panel expire on 16 March.
Key Recent Developments
As highlighted by Mitri during his last Council briefing on 29 January, there have been a number of developments on the political front in Libya, including, after two frustrated attempts, the swearing-in of the first democratically elected government.
On 6 February, the General National Congress (GNC) decided, after a considerable delay, to endorse election as the process by which the members of the Constituent Assembly will be chosen. The Assembly will have 60 members, with 20 members representing each of the three historical regions of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan, and they will be chosen through direct election as stated in the Draft Constitutional Declaration. Due to the characteristics of the electoral process, this decision will further delay the constitutional drafting process but will ensure its regional inclusiveness. Mitri characterised the GNC’s decision as an “important milestone”.
The security situation continues to be precarious. On 3 January, the president of the GNC, Mohamed el-Magariaf, survived an assassination attempt, as did the Italian consul in Benghazi on 12 January. Security officials continue to be the targets of attacks, mainly in the east. Furthermore, there have been reports of armed clashes between tribes and clans and the army, mainly in the south.
The security sector reform continues to present serious challenges. Currently, there are about 7,000 conflict-related detainees in the custody of militias that refuse to transfer them to state-controlled correctional facilities. Despite improvements in the security forces, such as conversion of more than 20,000 former militia troops into security officers, due-process guarantees and basic rights of these detainees continue to be violated.
On 12 February, an international ministerial conference on support to Libya was held in Paris, focusing on cooperation in the areas of security, justice and rule of law. The conference included regional and international organisations, EU and Arab League members, the US and Turkey. In a communiqué, the participants pledged their political, technical and material support for the government’s work on such issues as the national security architecture; disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration; arms and border control; and defence and security sector reform. The conference adopted development plans for national security and the justice and rule of law, to be implemented by the government with the assistance of international partners.
One of the main challenges regarding the security situation in Libya is the porous nature of the borders. On 12 January, Zeidan met with the prime ministers of Algeria and Tunisia in the town of Ghadames and agreed on joint measures to combat organised crime, terrorism and smuggling across borders. Although steps have been taken to enhance border control, recent developments in Mali and terrorist attacks in Algeria show the need for better border-control mechanisms. For the second anniversary of the beginning of Libyan uprising in February, the borders with Egypt and Tunisia were closed for five days amid fears of new violent clashes.
Relations between Libya and the International Criminal Court (ICC) have become increasingly tense after the Court ordered Libya on 7 February to surrender former intelligence chief and ICC indictee Abdullah al-Senussi. Another ICC indictee likewise held in Libya, Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, appeared before a local court in January tried on charges of undermining state security and attempting to escape from prison. At press time, he had not been tried yet for charges related to the crimes allegedly committed during the Libyan uprising.
In February, the GNC discussed the drafting of a “political isolation” law, which calls for the exclusion of those linked to the former regime from the current government. Human rights organisations in Libya and abroad have criticised the law for penalising affiliation instead of misdeeds and for hampering the reconciliation process.
The Secretary-General’s most recent report highlights UNSMIL’s engagement with the government in addressing “the complexities of the post-conflict democratic transition” (S/2013/104). The report identified the absence of an accountable institutional framework (including in the security and defence sectors), the underdevelopment of the private sector (which provides few opportunities for demobilised combatants) and the presence of tribal and regional tensions as the main challenges Libya is facing. The report suggested refocusing UNSMIL’s work on providing support to the constitution-making process, inclusive national dialogue and improving institutional capacity in the areas of defence sector reform, transitional justice and rule of law.
An overarching issue is the fragile security situation and the impact of regional instability on Libya due to the deficient control of its porous borders. (There has been some progress in security sector reform and the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of former combatants, but much more remains to be done.)
Issues for the Council vis-à-vis the UNSMIL mandate renewal may be to signal the importance of the Libyan government managing key challenges such as:
- ensuring the inclusiveness of the constitutional process;
- establishing an institutional framework for the reconciliation process; and
- managing the expectations of the population who seem to be growing impatient with the slow path towards democracy and reform.
A related issue for the Council are the current conflicting views between Libya and the ICC regarding the trial of the two ICC indictees (the Council referred the situation in Libya to the ICC in resolution 1970 of 26 February 2011).
In the resolution extending UNSMIL and the mandate of the Panel, options for the Council may include:
- incorporating some of the suggestions raised by the Secretary-General in his report; and
- incorporating some of the recommendations in the report of the Panel of Experts to ensure the effectiveness of the sanctions, namely the ones regarding the arms embargo and the travel ban.
Council members generally agree that the principal elements of UNSMIL’s mandate as outlined in resolution 2040 remain relevant. They are also aware of the important role UNSMIL can play now that the constitutional drafting process has been unblocked after the decision of the GNC to hold elections for the assembly.
Arms proliferation in Libya and the region has been a source of contention among Council members since the end of the revolution, and that might come up again in closed consultations.
Regarding the ICC referral, some Council members would prefer the ICC indictees to be tried in The Hague, whereas other members tend to be more sympathetic with Libya’s desire to hold the trials in the country exercising its right to prosecute any crimes over which it has jurisdiction.
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.|
|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 .|
|21 February 2013 S/2013/104||This was the latest report of the Secretary-General on UNSMIL.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|29 January 2013 S/PV.6912||Tarek Mitri, Special Representative and head of UNSMIL, briefed on the situation in Libya.|
OTHER RELEVANT FACTS
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNSMIL
Tarek Mitri (Lebanon)
UNSMIL Size and Composition
Strength as of January 2013: 137 international civilians; 23 local civilians; two police officers.
16 September 2011 to present