Expected Council Action
In June, the Security Council expects a briefing, followed by consultations, from Tarek Mitri, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). 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 Libya Sanctions Committee expire on 13 March and 13 April 2015, respectively.
Key Recent Developments
The security situation is critical in Libya. On 16 May, former Libyan army General Khalifa Haftar launched a military operation in Benghazi targeting Islamist militias, which resulted in at least 70 dead. Haftar, who had attempted an unsuccessful coup on 14 February, framed the operation in response to the recent wave of assassinations and attacks targeting army and police personnel in Benghazi. On 18 May militias loyal to Haftar attacked the General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli. These attacks came after allegations questioning the legality of the 4 May election of Ahmed Maiteeq as Prime Minister, whose cabinet was finally approved by the GNC on 25 May. (On 13 April, Abdullah al-Thinni—who had substituted Prime Minister Ali Zeidan after being ousted by the GNC on 11 March—decided to resign after an attack on his family.) In a 19 May statement, UNSMIL called on all sides to immediately cease all military action and to address differences by political means.
On 13 May, the Jordanian ambassador to Libya, who had been held since being kidnapped on 15 April, was released after a Libyan citizen serving a life sentence on terrorism charges in Jordan was transferred to Tripoli. The whereabouts of two Tunisian diplomats kidnapped in March and April remain unknown.
The Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA) met for the first time on 21 April, but is still missing six of its 60 members. The GNC adopted a law on 30 March providing for the 25 June election of a new House of Representatives to replace the GNC, although the prospects that they will take place are unclear. Municipal elections were held throughout April and May.
A deal was reached in early April between the government and militias to re-open blockaded oil export terminals, but two out of four ports (Ras Lanuf and Es-Sider) have not re-opened following claims by militia leaders that the government had not honored its commitments (including the disbursement of compensation payments to militiamen). Militia leaders also publicly rejected Maiteeq’s appointment as prime minister.
A trial of 37 Qaddafi-era officials accused of serious crimes during the 2011 revolution has been adjourned multiple times since March. While former intelligence chief Abdullah Al-Senussi appeared in court in Tripoli, Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi, son of deposed leader Muammar Qaddafi, testified via video-link from a militia-held prison in Zintan. On 21 May, the International Criminal Court (ICC) reiterated its decision that Qaddafi should be tried in The Hague and in a 13 May briefing to the Council, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda insisted that Libya should immediately surrender him to the Court. She also deplored the slow progress in Al-Senussi’s trial after the Court ruled in October 2013 that his case was being investigated by Libya, thus making it inadmissible before the ICC.
On 14 March, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2144, extending the mandate of UNSMIL and the PoE. The resolution did not include significant changes to the sanctions regime. Some recommendations contained in the latest report of the PoE—such as enlarging the PoE, clarifying the mechanisms by which frozen assets are disposed of or calling on the government to ensure clearer procurement procedures for military materiel and more precise end-user certificates—were not included following disagreements among permanent members of the Council. On 19 March the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2146, imposing sanctions on vessels designated by the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee to be transporting crude oil that had been illicitly exported from Libya.
An overarching issue is the current fighting between militias and factions of the army, as well as the challenges to the legitimate authorities (the prime minister and the GNC).
Agreeing on a roadmap for an inclusive political process and ensuring the swift work of the CDA is a key issue.
A pressing issue is ensuring the protection of UNSMIL staff so it can carry out its mandate.
Coordinating the different international initiatives put in place to work towards a political settlement in Libya is an ongoing issue, as despite resolution 2144 spelling out UNSMIL’s “good offices” mandate, key actors such as the UK, the US, the Arab League and the EU have appointed special envoys to Libya.
Options for the Council include:
- condemning the use of violence against the legitimate authorities;
- calling upon the militias and army factions in Libya to refrain from using violence and to agree to work together for national reconciliation, justice, respect for human rights and the rule of law;
- threatening or adopting targeted sanctions against spoilers of the political process; and
- calling for improved coordination of international support under the auspices of UNSMIL.
The overall deterioration of the security situation and the fragility of the political situation are sources of concern for Council members. At press time, no Council member had circulated a statement or called for a Council meeting on the 18 May, or for that matter the 14 February, coup attempt by Haftar.
The discussions in March regarding the changes to the UNSMIL mandate and prioritisation and adaptation of its tasks to the challenging security situation were not difficult. Regarding sanctions, however, Council members found it difficult to agree on amendments to impose measures on vessels transporting crude oil that had been illicitly exported from Libya. In the end, this was addressed in a separate resolution drafted by the US and negotiated separately. Although China and Russia made clear their uneasiness during the negotiations of the resolution, which authorises the interception of vessels without consent from the flag state if the Committee agrees to do so after a request from Libya, resolution 2146 was adopted unanimously.
The UK is the penholder on Libya.
UN DOCUMENTS ON LIBYA
|Security Council Resolutions|
|19 March 2014 S/RES/2146||This resolution imposed measures on vessels designated by the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee to be transporting crude oil illicitly exported from Libya.|
|14 March 2014 S/RES/2144||This resolution extended the mandate of UNSMIL until 13 March 2015 and the mandate of the Panel assisting the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee until 13 April 2015.|
|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 established a sanctions committee.|
|26 February 2014 S/2014/131||The was the report of the Secretary-General on Libya.|
|Security Council Letter|
|17 April 2014 S/2014/288||This letter appointed six experts to serve on the PoE.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|13 May 2014 S/PV.7173||This was the seventh briefing by the Prosecutor of the ICC on Libya.|
|10 March 2014 S/PV.7130||The Council was briefed by Special Representative Tarek Mitri on the latest report of the Secretary-General on Libya.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|15 April 2014 SC/11354||This statement condemned the abduction of the Jordanian ambassador to Libya.|
|Sanctions Committee Document|
|15 February 2014 S/2014/106||This was the final report of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee.|
OTHER RELEVANT FACTS
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNSMIL
Tarek Mitri (Lebanon)
UNSMIL Size and Composition
Strength as of 31 January 2014: 151 international civilians, 81 local civilians, 11 police officers and three UN volunteers.
16 September 2011 to present.