January 2019 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 December 2018
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Expected Council Action

In January 2019, the Council is expected to receive briefings by the Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Ghassan Salamé. A briefing by the chair of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee is also expected.

The mandate of UNSMIL expires on 15 September 2019, and the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee expires on 20 February 2020.

Key Recent Developments

During his most recent briefing  to the Council on 8 November 2018, Salamé emphasised that the conditions in Libyan prisons continue to be a key factor in the conflict, describing them as “appalling” and as “incubators” for radicalisation. UNSMIL, together with the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), has established the Security Arrangements Committee for Greater Tripoli, implementing a plan aimed at the creation of professional security forces. The GNA currently relies on armed groups for its security.

An international conference on Libya took place in Palermo, Italy, from 12 to 13 November 2018. The participants did not release a joint statement, but the Italian government issued a conclusion, reaffirming the 2015 Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) and the United Nations Action Plan on Libya and detailing commitments made by participants. General Khalifa Haftar, commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) operating in eastern Libya, was invited to the conference and present in Palermo at the time, but the LNA’s spokesperson stated that he was there to hold meetings, not to attend the conference. The Italian government later released pictures of Haftar in Palermo, together with the Italian Prime Minister Guiseppe Conti as well as Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the GNA.

On 6 November 2018, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) presented UNSMIL with its final report as an outcome of the national conference process. Initiated by Salamé, the national conference process is aimed at bringing Libyans together around a common national narrative; Salamé asked HD at the beginning of 2018 to conduct nationwide consultations and prepare an outcome document. This report, which lays out the ideas of Libyans from all parts of the country for their future, will be the basis of a final event in the first quarter of 2019, in the lead-up to elections.

According to the latest annual report of the Secretary-General on trafficking in persons in armed conflict, the political divisions in Libya, together with the proliferation of armed groups and weapons, have caused trafficking networks to multiply. This was accompanied by widespread conflict-related sexual violence against asylum seekers, migrants and refugees.

As at early December 2018, UNHCR reported that over 193,500 people remained internally displaced in Libya. In addition, the UN’s 2018 humanitarian response plan for Libya of $312.7 million was funded at 24.9 percent, with $234.8 million outstanding, representing the second-lowest coverage of all UN humanitarian response plans, after Haiti with 12.9 percent.

On 5 November 2018, the Council adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the Panel of Experts and renewing measures related to the illicit export of crude oil from Libya until 20 February 2020. The resolution was adopted with 13 votes in favour; China and Russia abstained. The Netherlands and Sweden jointly proposed adding a new criterion for sanctioning individuals for acts that “include but are not limited to planning, directing or committing acts involving sexual and gender-based violence”: this language was included but as China and Russia did not agree with this, they abstained.

Following a terrorist attack on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 25 December 2018, Council members issued a press statement condemning the attack in the strongest terms.

Sanctions-Related Developments

On 16 November 2018, the 1970 Sanctions Committee added Salah Badi, a militia leader who has repeatedly been involved in armed clashes in Tripoli, to its sanctions list for targeted sanctions (asset freeze and travel ban). On 17 December, Swedish Ambassador Olof Skoog briefed the Council in his position as outgoing chair of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee. He noted the labour-intensity of the committee and the difficulty of reaching consensus because of the divisions in the Council regarding sanctions. Despite that, he pointed out, the committee had been able to agree on individuals for listing for the first time since 2011. The committee had also issued two implementation assistance notices for UN member states to support them in their implementation of the asset freeze. Also, for the first time since the sanctions committee was established in 2011, its chair travelled to Libya in November 2018. Skoog was not able to travel to the eastern part of the country, however, although this had been part of the trip’s terms of reference. He was therefore unable to brief the Council on his travels during the Council’s last meeting on Libya on 8 November in his capacity as chair, and could only share observations in a national capacity. The content of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee’s chair briefings to the Council have to be agreed upon by all members beforehand, and it seems that some Council members argued that the chair had not accomplished the goals of the mission in line with the terms of reference.

ICC-Related Developments

On 2 November 2018, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda delivered her semi-annual briefing  on recent developments concerning cases in Libya. 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 says that he resides in Zintan. On 5 June 2018, 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 2014 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 2018, 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.

Key Issues and Options

The existing political momentum for the utilisation of sanctions to target individuals such as militia leaders and key actors involved in human trafficking and migrant smuggling could continue to be seized upon by states to recommend further names to the sanctions committee. The Council could issue a press statement in support of UNSMIL’s and the GNA’s latest efforts to establish professional security forces, also with a view to working towards a conducive environment for peaceful and credible elections in 2019. 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 how best to achieve this goal. Regarding the elections, it seems that Council members are now more united in looking towards a date in spring 2019, as suggested by Salamé and reiterated during the Palermo conference. 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 UK is the penholder on Libya, and Germany will chair the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee during its term as an elected member from 2019 to 2020.


Security Council Resolutions
5 November 2018S/RES/2441 This was a resolution extending the mandate of the Panel of Experts and renewing measures related to the illicit export of crude oil from Libya until 20 February 2020 adopted with 13 votes in favour and two abstentions (China and Russia).
3 October 2018S/RES/2437 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 2018S/RES/2434 This was the resolution extending UNSMIL’s mandate until 15 September 2019.
11 June 2018S/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.
26 February 2011S/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
31 August 2018S/2018/807 This was the Secretary-General’s report on migrants and trafficking in persons in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya and inspection and seizure of vessels off the coast of Libya.
24 August 2018S/2018/780 This was a report on UNSMIL.
Security Council Letters
26 September 2018S/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
17 December 2018S/PV.8428 This was a series of briefings by Chairs of subsidiary bodies of the Security Council.
8 November 2018S/PV.8394 This was a briefing by Ghassan Salamé, Special Representative and head of UNSMIL, on the situation in Libya.
5 November 2018S/PV.8389 This is the meeting during which resolution 2441 was adopted.
2 November 2018S/PV.8388 This was the semi-annual briefing on recent developments concerning cases in Libya by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
Sanctions Committee Documents
5 September 2018S/2018/812 This was the final report of the Panel of Experts.