December 2013 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 November 2013
Download Complete Forecast: PDF


Expected Council Action

In December, the Security Council expects a briefing by Tarek Mitri, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), followed by consultations. The Council will also receive the periodic briefing by the chair of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Eugène-Richard Gasana (Rwanda), and hold consultations on the Libya sanctions.

The mandates of UNSMIL and the Panel of Experts (PoE) assisting the 1970 Sanctions Committee expire on 16 March and 14 April 2014, respectively.

Key Recent Developments

The deteriorating security situation continues to be a source of concern in Libya, where many militias have not accepted the authority of the state. Several violent clashes among rival militias occurred recently. On 15 November, Misrata militias attacked a demonstration in Tripoli calling for the implementation of a law that stipulates that all armed groups are to vacate the city. At least 40 people were killed and 500 were injured. The Misrata militias left Tripoli after the Misrata local council and council of elders ordered all militia groups from the city—not only those responsible for the clashes—to pull out of Tripoli within three days.

On 4 November, Council members were briefed in consultations under “any other business” on the implementation of resolution 2017 on the proliferation of weapons in Libya. Mitri briefed Council members on UNSMIL’s efforts to address this issue by improving ammunition management, arms control, mine action and disposal of chemical weapons and explosive ordnance. He also highlighted the deficient financial support for the work of the UN Mine Action Service in Libya. Also on 4 November, UNSMIL issued a statement condemning a series of assassinations targeting security and military officials, as well as political activists and other citizens in Benghazi.

The national dialogue initiative announced by the government in late August has not materialised yet and the political situation remains highly polarised. Debates at the General National Congress (GNC) have been increasingly divisive over issues such as the restoration of oil production, the investigation into the kidnapping of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan in September and the upcoming electoral and constitutional processes. There is a degree of uncertainty over the mandate of the GNC, which some believe is set to expire in February 2014. Amazigh (Berber) groups have said they intend to boycott the elections for the constitutional drafting assembly, citing what they see as their unfair representation in the assembly. (The Tebu, Tuareg and Amazigh ethnic minorities are entitled to two seats each in the 60-member body, even though the Amazigh population is by far the largest of the three.) On 11 November, the High National Elections Commission closed the registration process for candidates for the assembly, declaring that, among the 681 candidates, none was Amazigh.

Amazigh groups halted gas exports to Italy and occupied Mellitah, a port in western Libya, stopping some oil exports. This action further complicated government efforts to boost oil production after months of protests that have impacted the economy. Oil production has also been disrupted by regional tensions; two of three Libyan regions (Fezzan and Cyrenaica) declared their autonomy earlier in the year. After the government reached an agreement with local militias in eastern Libya to reopen oil terminals, it seems local militias split into two factions, with those against the agreement being responsible for the latest disruptions. On 9 November, leaders from Cyrenaica announced the establishment of a regional oil firm and a central bank.

In an October report, UNSMIL and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights denounced the conditions in some detention centres in Libya and said they were a source of grave concern for refugees and asylum seekers. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 3,876 persons in 19 boats departed irregularly from Libya in October. Two of them sank, leaving more than 500 people dead.

On 14 November, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda presented her sixth report to the Council on the situation in Libya pursuant to resolution 1970. She provided an update on the cases against Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi and former intelligence chief Abdullah Al-Senussi. She also informed the Council that Libya and the ICC had recently reached an agreement aimed at ensuring that individuals allegedly responsible for committing international crimes in Libya as of 15 February 2011 are brought to justice either at the ICC or in Libya itself.

Gasana is likely to brief the Council on a meeting of the 1970 Sanctions Committee held during the reporting period. He is also expected to raise issues of noncompliance with the sanctions regime by member states, as well as address misunderstandings in the notification criteria required by resolution 2095. The latter will be the subject of an open briefing to member states in December.

Key Issues

An overarching issue is the fragile security situation due to the existence of militias that challenge the state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force. As signalled by the interim report of the PoE, arms proliferation beyond Libya’s borders, including trafficking of arms and ammunition to Syria, is a related issue. Ensuring the protection of UNSMIL staff so it can carry out its mandate is a key issue.

An immediate issue is the polarisation of the political debate and the obstacles to holding the elections for the constituent assembly. Ensuring that all parties are fairly represented and the process is inclusive is a related issue.

Establishing dialogue with those carrying out activities that might further destabilise the country, such as oil disruption or boycotting elections, and bringing them to the negotiating table is a further related issue.

A pressing issue is ensuring respect for the rule of law and reforming the legal institutions (including the justice system, law-enforcement mechanisms, correctional facilities and the establishment of a fact-finding and reconciliation commission) to generate trust in the political and legal systems and to prevent retaliatory actions to take revenge on alleged wrongdoers.


The Council could receive the briefing and take no action. Or, it could adopt a statement:

  • emphasising the need for the GNC, the government and the constitution drafting assembly to work inclusively for national reconciliation, justice, respect for human rights and the rule of law;
  • reaffirming its call for armed militias to disarm and accept the authority of the state, including transferring Qaddafi from Zintan to the custody of the state;
  • asking the Secretary-General to provide options to ensure the safety and security of UNSMIL personnel (Council members discussed the option of a guard force under “any other business” on 26 November); and
  • encouraging the government to develop a comprehensive strategy aimed at putting an end to crime and impunity in Libya, including the speedy establishment of the fact-finding and reconciliation commission the government had vowed to establish.

Although unlikely, the Council could threaten measures against armed militias and other spoilers that significantly undermine state authority and its monopoly over the legitimate use of force.

Council Dynamics

As shown by the 4 November briefing, even though some Council members disagree on the causes of the situation in Libya and its impact in the wider region, the overall deterioration in terms of security and the fragility of the political transition are sources of common concern for Council members. 

The UK is the penholder on Libya.

Sign up for SCR emails

Security Council Resolution
14 March 2013 S/RES/2095 This resolution extended UNSMIL’s mandate by 12 months and the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee for 13 months.
Secretary-General’s Report
5 September 2013 S/2013/516 This report of the Secretary-General on UNSMIL highlighted the internal and regional dynamics and the deteriorating security situation.
Security Council Meeting Records
14 November 2013 S/PV.7059 This was the sixth briefing by the ICC Prosecutor on Libya
16 September 2013 S/PV.7031 The Council was briefed on the interim report of the Panel of Experts of the 1970 Sanctions Committee.


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

UNSMIL Size and Composition
Strength as of 31 August 2013: 145 international civilians; 68 local civilians; 6 police officers, two UN volunteers.

UNSMIL Duration
16 September 2011 to present

Subscribe to receive SCR publications