November 2018 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 October 2018
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Expected Council Action

In November, the Council is expected to receive briefings by the Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Ghassan Salamé, and the chair of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Olof Skoog (Sweden). Additionally, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda will deliver the semi-annual briefing on recent developments concerning cases in Libya. The Council is also scheduled to adopt a resolution extending the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee and renewing measures related to the illicit export of crude oil from Libya. At press time, it appeared possible that the resolution would be adopted before the end of October.

The mandate of UNSMIL expires on 15 September 2019, and the mandate of the Panel of Experts expires on 15 November.

Key Recent Developments

The recurring issue of competing institutions in Libya includes the oil sector: the final report of the Panel of Experts says that six attempts to illicitly export crude oil by the self-styled “National Oil Corporation” in Benghazi (a rival to the internationally recognised “National Oil Corporation” based in Tripoli) were documented between August 2017 and August 2018.

The security situation in Libya remains highly volatile. According to a statement by UNSMIL on 23 October, Fayez al-Sarraj, president of the Presidency Council, adopted a Greater Tripoli Security Plan, developed with the support of UNSMIL and aimed at the establishment of professional security forces. Currently, the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli relies on armed groups for its security.

The House of Representatives in Tobruk was supposed to adopt legislation regulating parliamentary and presidential elections by 16 September, according to a declaration following an international conference on Libya in Paris in June. The deadline passed without such legislation being produced. The same declaration named 10 December as the election date.

As announced during a visit by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to meet with US President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. at the end of July, Italy will host an international conference on Libya in Palermo from 12 to 13 November.

At press time, UNHCR reported that 193,581 people remained internally displaced in Libya. In addition, the UN’s 2018 humanitarian response plan for Libya of $312.7 million was funded at 23 percent, with $240.7 million outstanding.

On 3 October, the Council adopted resolution 2434, renewing for another 12 months the authorisation for member states to inspect vessels on the high seas off the coast of Libya when there are reasonable grounds to suspect that they are being used for migrant smuggling or human trafficking.

ICC-Related Developments

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, whose extradition has been sought by the ICC, has been at large since he was set free by the Abu-Bakr al-Siddiq Brigade, a Zintan-based militia, in June 2017. According to the final report of the panel of experts, his lawyer stated that he resides in Zintan. On 5 June, he filed an inadmissibility challenge to his case.

Former internal security chief Mohamed Khaled al-Tuhamy, allegedly responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in 2011 in Libya, also remains at large.

On 4 July, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC issued a second arrest warrant for Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf al-Werfalli, a commander participating in General Khalifa Haftar’s Operation Dignity in Benghazi. According to the first arrest warrant, issued on 15 August 2017, Al-Werfalli appears to be directly responsible for the deaths of 33 persons during seven different incidents in Benghazi or surrounding areas between June 2016 and July 2017, either by killing them himself or ordering their executions. The second arrest warrant relates to an eighth incident on 24 January in which Al-Werfalli allegedly killed ten persons in Benghazi. To date, Al-Werfalli has not been surrendered to the ICC despite reports that he turned himself in to the military police in eastern Libya after news about the executions became public.

Human Rights-Related Developments

During its 39th session, the Human Rights Council received an oral update on Libya from OHCHR on 26 September, which was followed by an interactive dialogue. OHCHR’s Director of Field Operations and Technical Cooperation, Georgette Gagnon, presented the oral update and noted that armed groups continued to proliferate in Libya and to commit grave violations of human rights with almost complete impunity. Gagnon also highlighted the plight of migrants and refugees, detainees, and journalists and urged member states to prioritise addressing impunity; to adopt a human rights-centred approach when addressing migration; and to strengthen the processes of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of fighters. Also during the interactive dialogue, Special Representative and head of UNSMIL Ghassan Salamé expressed concern in a video message about the situation in Libya, particularly the impact of the conflict that broke out in Tripoli on 26 August, and said that armed groups had spread throughout the country, committing torture and other human rights violations. He similarly emphasised the suffering faced by migrants, including rape, torture, slavery and forced labour. 

Key Issues and Options

Key actors involved in the fighting between armed groups in Tripoli at the end of August could be considered for designation by the sanctions committee for targeted sanctions. In that context, the Council could also issue a press statement in support of the GNA’s efforts to establish professional security forces. At the appropriate time and in support of Salamé’s work, the Security Council might consider a visiting mission to Libya and neighbouring countries.

Council and Wider Dynamics

Members are generally supportive of UNSMIL’s role in the stabilisation of Libya but have divergent views on the way forward. Regarding the elections, France is holding firm about the 10 December date, but the majority of members, including the UK (the penholder) and the US, appear more cautious about focusing on a specific date, considering the challenges in establishing an environment conducive to peaceful and credible elections. It remains to be seen how Italy’s Libya conference will influence the situation. Council resolutions and presidential statements have called upon UN member states to cease support for and official contact with parallel institutions in Libya, but it seems that some countries, including Council members, have not respected this.

The semi-annual briefings by Bensouda on Libya have had limited impact, given divisions among Council members on whether to take action to support the implementation of ICC decisions. Council members have often reverted to general exhortations rather than addressing non-compliance in a more forceful and effective way.

The UK is the penholder on Libya, and Sweden chairs the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee.


Security Council Resolutions
3 October 2018 S/RES/2437 (2018) This resolution renewed the authorisation for member states to inspect vessels on the high seas off the coast of Libya that they have reasonable grounds to suspect are being used for migrant smuggling or human trafficking.
13 September 2018 S/RES/2434 This was the resolution extending UNSMIL’s mandate until 15 September 2019.
11 June 2018 S/RES/2420 This was a resolution renewing the authorisation for member states, acting nationally or through regional organisations, to inspect vessels on the high seas off the coast of Libya bound to or from the country that they have reasonable grounds to believe are violating the arms embargo.
29 June 2017 S/RES/2362 This was a resolution renewing the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee and the measures regarding attempts to illicitly export oil from Libya.
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.
Secretary-General’s Reports
24 August 2018 S/2018/780 This was a report on UNSMIL.
Security Council Letters
26 September 2018 S/2018/871 This was a letter from the Chargé d’affaires ad interim of Libya to the president of the Security Council on the “Asset-Freezing (Compensation) Bill”; being debated in the UK House of Commons.
Security Council Meeting Records
3 October 2018 SPV.8365 This was the meeting during which resolution 2437 was adopted.
5 September 2018 S/PV.8341 This was a briefing by the Special Representative and head of UNSMIL, Ghassan Salamé, and Ambassador Olof Skoog (Sweden), chair of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee
9 May 2018 S/PV.8250 This was the semi-annual briefing by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on recent developments concerning cases in Libya.
Sanctions Committee Documents
5 September 2018 S/2018/812 This was the final report of the Panel of Experts.