Expected Council Action
In August, Council members are likely to be briefed on developments in Libya by Tarek Mitri, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), and then meet in consultations.
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
Briefing the Council on 17 July, Mitri referred to “a mounting sense of a probable imminent and significant escalation in the conflict” in Libya. Since 5 July, fighting among rival militias for control of the airport in Tripoli has resulted in at least 97 people killed and hundreds injured, extensive damage to airport facilities and planes and the suspension of all flights into and out of the airport. The fighting, which is also affecting oil production, has involved Zintan-based militias that supported the 16 May failed coup by rogue General Khalifa Haftar and Misrata-based Islamist militias. In the absence of a functioning, organised and well-equipped army, the government is funding these militias to provide security throughout the country.
The situation in Benghazi, where Haftar’s offensive started, is critical as well. On 27 July, at least 38 people were killed in clashes between armed groups while violence targeting security and judicial personnel and activists has persisted. On 25 June, human rights activist Salwa Bughaigis was assassinated in Benghazi, and her husband has been missing since. On 22 July, two suicide attacks targeted a military base in Benghazi, resulting in at least four dead. Benghazi-based group Ansar al-Sharia—which is believed to have played a major role in the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in September 2012—was designated a terrorist organisation in January 2014 by the US State Department. A press statement issued by the Council following the 17 July meeting condemned the recent violence in Libya and expressed concern over the “prolonged pattern of politically motivated and inter-militia violence” (SC/11479).
On 21 July, the High National Elections Commission announced the final results of the 25 June parliamentary election. The results confirmed the low turnout, and about 12 out of 200 seats are expected to remain unfilled given security challenges and boycotts. The results have brought significant losses for Islamist candidates although it seems unclear how coalitions will be formed once the Council of Representatives starts operating. (The candidates in the election stood as individuals, not on a party ticket, to mitigate the effect of political polarisation.) In a 23 July press statement, the Security Council welcomed the announcement of the final results of the elections and urged “the expeditious seating of the Council of Representatives to begin the important work of building political consensus among the Libyan people, agreeing upon a government and urgently seeking to progress Libya’s democratic transition” (SC/11489).
In July, UNSMIL withdrew part of its staff due to concerns about their safety and security, temporarily relocating them to Tunisia and Malta, where they remained at press time. (Although the Council authorised the deployment of a UN guard unit in November 2013 to protect UNSMIL personnel and facilities, the unit was never deployed following concerns expressed by Libya and the decision by Jordan, the potential troop contributor for the guard unit, to abandon the plan. The UN did not pursue other troop contributors and instead decided to strengthen UNSMIL’s security section.) Following the worsening of the security situation in late July, the embassies of the US and Turkey evacuated their staff.
Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdulaziz addressed the Security Council on 17 July calling for the establishment, under Chapter VII, of a UN stabilisation and institution-building mission for Libya. Abdulaziz suggested this mission could be mandated to build the national security forces; protect oil fields and ports and civil airports; contribute to institution-building and enhance the performance of public administration; contribute to reform of the criminal justice system; provide support to neighbouring countries with respect to border security; and support the national dialogue and reconciliation in a process led by the League of Arab States.
On 24 July, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) unanimously confirmed a previous decision by the ICC which declared the case against former intelligence chief Abdullah Al-Senussi inadmissible before the ICC and that he therefore should be tried in Libya. (A 31 May decision by the same Chamber upheld the admissibility of the case against Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, reiterating the call for Libya to surrender him for trial in The Hague.) In his Council briefing, Mitri pointed out that both Qaddafi and Al-Senussi have been unable to access the legal counsel representing them before the ICC. Following a 18 July meeting with the Minister of Justice of Libya, Salah al-Marghani, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda expressed great concern about recent reports of alleged attacks carried out against civilians in Tripoli and Benghazi and stated that she will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute crimes under the ICC’s jurisdiction irrespective of their official status or affiliation.
Human Rights-Related Developments
In a press briefing on 27 June, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) condemned the 25 June murder of Bugaighis, the vice president of the National Dialogue Preparatory Commission. OHCHR expressed deep concern about the emerging pattern of directly targeting human rights defenders, humanitarian workers and media professionals in Libya. In a press briefing on 6 June, OHCHR condemned the 4 June murder of Michael Greub, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross sub-delegation in Misrata, and deplored the temporary detention of four UNSMIL staff members upon arrival at Tripoli airport.
An overarching set of key issues includes current fighting between militias and factions of the army, the political challenges to the government and its lack of authority.
Agreeing on a ceasefire, a roadmap for an inclusive political process and ensuring the swift work of the Constitutional Drafting Assembly and the Council of Representatives is another key issue.
A pressing issue is ensuring the protection of UNSMIL staff so it can carry out its mandate.
Coordinating special envoys appointed by international actors to ensure they work coherently towards a political settlement in Libya is an ongoing issue.
The Council could adopt a resolution:
- urging all parties to agree on a ceasefire;
- refocusing UNSMIL’s mandate in the light of the current situation, prioritising its work on national dialogue, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration as well as security sector reform;
- demanding that the militias and army factions in Libya to disarm, refrain from using violence and agree to work together for national reconciliation, justice, respect for human rights and the rule of law; and
- adopting targeted sanctions against spoilers of the political process.
It could also list Ansar al-Sharia under the 1267/1989 Al-Qaida Sanctions regime.
The sharp deterioration of the security and political situation in Libya is a source of concern for Council members. Yet, due to differing points of view among Council members about how to address or characterise the actions of the government and various groups and militias, in particular those of Haftar, the Council has not pronounced itself on the situation.
Resolution 2144 requests the Secretariat to brief on UNSMIL’s mandate every 90 days, but Council members seem to think that Libya deserves closer Council attention due to the current state of affairs. In August, as in July, Council members will hear an off-cycle briefing by Mitri and will meet to discuss the situation in consultations.
In a meeting in consultations on Abdulaziz’s call for a UN stabilisation and institution-building mission, Council members asked the Secretariat to provide options for the support that the Council could provide to the Libyan transition.
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 transporting crude oil that had been 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 June 2014 S/2014/417||This was from the US to the Council President about Khattala’s abduction by US special forces.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|17 July 2014 S/PV.7218||This was a briefing by Mitri with the participation of Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdulaziz|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|23 July 2014 SC/11489||This press statement welcomed the announcement of the final results of the parliamentary elections and urged the expeditious seating of the Council of Representatives.|
|17 July 2014 SC/11479||This press statement condemned the recent violence in Libya, including the fighting around Tripoli International Airport.|
|23 June 2014 SC/11447||This welcomed the parliamentary election of 25 June 2014.|
|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 30 April 2014: 166 international civilians, 76 local civilians, 13 police officers and three UN volunteers.
16 September 2011 to present.