Expected Council Action
In November, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda will deliver her semi-annual briefing on recent developments concerning cases in Libya.
Bernardino León, the Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), and Ambassador Ramlan Ibrahim (Malaysia), the chair of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee, are also likely to brief the Council, followed by consultations.
The mandates of UNSMIL and the Panel of Experts assisting the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee expire on 15 March and 30 April 2016, respectively.
Key Recent Developments
Following the partial initialling of an agreement on 11 July, León included some amendments to the draft in an effort to respond to demands by the Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC), including on the mandate and membership of the State Council, a consultative body in which most GNC members are expected to participate. These were rejected by the Tobruk-based House of Representatives. Delegates of the parties attended a high-level meeting in New York on 2 October aimed at increasing international pressure to sign the agreement, but hardliners on both sides continued to undermine the efforts of the factions within the parties more willing to compromise. On 8 October, León proposed names for the six-member presidency council of the government of national accord. In a 9 October press statement, the Security Council welcomed León’s announcement of the proposed names and urged all parties to endorse and sign the agreement.
Pressure from the Council and other international actors intensified in the weeks leading to 20 October, when the House’s mandate was to expire. On 17 October, the Council stressed that the agreement offered a real prospect for resolving Libya’s political, security and institutional crises, and threatened spoilers with sanctions. On 19 October, a statement by the foreign ministers of Algeria, France, Germany, Italy, Morocco, Qatar, Spain, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the UK, the US and the EU called on all parties to “immediately approve the hard-fought political compromise set forth in the political agreement”. At press time, both the House and the GNC had so far failed to support the agreement.
The security situation continues to be critical, particularly in Benghazi. UNSMIL has repeatedly condemned the indiscriminate shelling of residential areas there by all parties. In the last few months, there have been various local ceasefire initiatives, including between Zintan- and Misrata-based armed groups, but violence persists in the west as well. In the south, after several attempts, a ceasefire between Tabu and Zwai tribes seemed to be holding.
Fractures in the main military coalitions became increasingly apparent. In June, Salah Badi, a commander of Libya Dawn split from the Tripoli-based coalition and established an alternative alliance named Jabhat al-Somood, which opposes the political process. General Khalifa Haftar, who was appointed Supreme Commander of the armed forces by the House, has publicly criticised efforts to reach an agreement, and press reports suggest he seeks to head a military council with executive powers in the absence of a political settlement.
The increasing presence of terrorist groups continues to be a threat to Libya and the region. Recently, the Monitoring Team of the 1267/1989 Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee reported on the terrorist threat in Libya, highlighting the increasing activities of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), as well as Ansar al-Sharia and other Al-Qaida affiliates in Libya, and their impact on Tunisia and other countries in the region through the flow of weapons and foreign terrorist fighters. The report also highlights that ISIS in Libya is the only affiliate that benefited from support and guidance by ISIS’ core in Iraq and Syria. At press time, the chair of the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee was expected to brief the Council on Libya on 27 October.
Contingency planning to support countering terrorism in Libya once a government of national accord is sworn in has been ongoing by France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the US, in discussion with the UN and the EU. One of the key issues in the negotiations that led to the adoption of resolution 2238 and the renewal of UNSMIL’s mandate was whether to refer to UNSMIL’s role in planning assistance for a government of national accord and for security arrangements. In the end, a preambular paragraph of the resolution recognises the need to plan assistance for a government of national accord and for security arrangements.
A September report published by OCHA stated that an estimated 2.44 million people are in need of protection and some form of humanitarian assistance in Libya. This includes internally displaced persons, the non-displaced conflict-affected population, refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants. On 9 October, the Council adopted resolution 2240, which authorised the interdiction of vessels used for migrant smuggling or human trafficking on the high seas off the coast of Libya.
On 28 July, Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi, son of deposed leader Muammar Qaddafi, was sentenced to death by a court in Tripoli that tried him along with 36 other Qaddafi-era officials accused of serious crimes during the 2011 revolution. Qaddafi has been tried in absentia since he is being held in a militia-controlled jail in the town of Zintan. UNSMIL and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights criticised the trial as not meeting international standards for a fair trial.
On 10 December 2014, the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber issued a decision on the non-compliance of Libya with the Court on the case against Qaddafi, by which the matter was referred back to the Council. Although the ICC decision was noted in resolution 2213, so far the Council has failed to follow up on this issue and has not met to discuss it. On 30 July, Bensouda requested that the Pre-Trial Chamber order Libya to refrain from carrying out Qaddafi’s sentence, surrender him to the Court and officially inform the Council of the sentence, which she describes as an irreversible manifestation of Libya’s failure to cooperate with the Court. Resolution 2238 notes both the decision by the Pre-Trial Chamber and the request by the Prosecutor, in addition to calling on the Libyan government to cooperate fully with the ICC and the Prosecutor and provide them with any necessary assistance. On 20 August, Libya responded to the Prosecutor’s request stating that Qaddafi’s judgement was not final given that he was tried in absentia, and stressing that he cannot be surrendered to the ICC because he is not in custody of the Libyan government.
The interim report of the Panel of Experts, circulated in September, highlights how violators of human rights and peace spoilers continue to act with total impunity, especially in the absence of a formal security sector and international hesitancy to intervene, including through the adoption of targeted sanctions. León has repeatedly emphasised the usefulness of sanctions to target hardliners and advance the political process, and Council statements have repeatedly threatened spoilers. However, no names have been submitted since a proposal by France, Spain, the UK and the US to impose sanctions on two individuals affiliated with each of the warring coalitions was put on hold by Russia and China in early June.
Human Rights-Related Developments
During its 30th session, the Human Rights Council (HRC) considered the report on Libya of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (A/HRC/30/16). The report sets out 202 conclusions and recommendations. Among them, the report calls on Libya to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, and to cooperate fully with international human rights procedures and institutions, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ fact-finding mission on Libya, established by HRC resolution 28/30 on 27 March.
On 14 September, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein remarked in his opening statement at the HRC’s 30th session that indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian objects through the use of imprecise weaponry in densely populated areas continues in Libya, along with summary executions, arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment. He added that impunity is nearly absolute, and migrants, refugees, female human rights defenders, the internally displaced and religious minorities are intensely vulnerable to violations.
An overarching issue is isolating spoilers on both sides and maintaining the engagement of the parties in the political process, while ensuring the support of all regional and international actors for the political dialogue.
A key issue is ensuring that military actors are brought into the political process to address the implementation of the ceasefire and other security arrangements provided for in the agreement. Stopping continual violations of international humanitarian law by the parties is a related issue.
The growing threat in Libya of terrorist groups with regional reach is an urgent issue.
Options for Council members on Libya include:
- visiting Libya to hold discussions with the parties and regional stakeholders with the objective of breaking the current deadlock over the political process;
- authorising interdiction of vessels suspected to be involved in violations of the arms embargo;
- establishing a mechanism to ensure the independence and neutrality of the Central Bank of Libya; and
- imposing sanctions on spoilers.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Council members generally support the mediation efforts by León and have repeatedly stated that that there can be no military solution to the crisis in Libya. There is also a feeling of urgency among Council members given the growing threat of ISIS in Libya and the 20 October expiration of the House’s mandate. Disagreements over how to support mediation efforts, including the use of UN sanctions, have hindered the Council’s engagement on Libya. Until now, Council members have considered the formation of a government of national accord as a prerequisite for counter-terrorism assistance. It is unclear how Council members would change their approach if efforts to form a unified government fail.
The UK is the penholder on Libya.
UN DOCUMENTS ON LIBYA
|Security Council Resolutions|
|9 October 2015 S/RES/2240||This resolution authorised the interdiction of vessels used for migrant smuggling or human trafficking on the high seas off the coast of Libya.|
|10 September 2015 S/RES/2238||This was a resolution renewing the mandate of the UNSMIL until 15 March 2016.|
|27 March 2015 S/RES/2214||This was a resolution that focused on counter-terrorism efforts.|
|27 March 2015 S/RES/2213||This resolution renewed UNSMIL and the 1970 Libya Panel of Experts.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|17 October 2015 SC/12084||This press statement urged all Libyan parties to endorse and sign the Political Agreement, as presented on 8 October.|
|9 October 2015 SC/12074||This press statement welcomed Leon’s announcement of the proposed names for the Presidency Council of the Libyan Government of National Accord.|
|19 August 2015 SC/12027||This press statement condemned the terrorist attacks in Sirte, by a group that has pledged allegiance to ISIS.|