Expected Council Action
In June, the Council is expected to renew 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. The current authorisation expires on 11 June.
The mandate of the UN Support Mission in Libya (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
The inspection authorisation, first put into effect in resolution 2292 in 2016, was renewed for another 12 months last year, without changes, in resolution 2420. The authorisation also allows for member states to seize and dispose of arms and ammunition found during the inspection of these vessels. The Secretary-General is requested to report on the implementation of resolution 2420 within 11 months of its adoption. According to his latest report, arms coming from Libya have contributed to the expansion of terrorist influence in the region, exemplifying the need for the full implementation of the arms embargo. Arms flowing into the country, including by sea, reportedly contribute to the ongoing conflict in Libya. The EU military operation in the Southern Central Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR MED Operation SOPHIA) operates as the only regional arrangement under the authorisation, and reported 1,083 hailings, three vessel inspections, and 84 friendly approaches. No arms or related materiel were seized.
During his most recent briefing to the Council on 21 May, the Special Representative and head of UNSMIL, Ghassan Salamé, highlighted the launch of a military offensive towards Tripoli on 4 April by General Khalifa Haftar, head of the eastern-based militia known as the “Libyan National Army” (LNA). Haftar opposes the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli. Salamé said that Libya was “on the verge of descending into a civil war which could lead to the permanent division of the country”.
At press time, the UN’s 2019 humanitarian response plan for Libya of $201.6 million was funded at 9.4 percent, with $182.6 million outstanding.
In his latest briefing to the Council on 21 May, Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany, Ambassador Jürgen Schulz, who chairs the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee, referred to the 26 March arrest and detention by Tunisian authorities of Moncef Kartas, one of the arms experts on the Panel of Experts supporting the 1970 Committee. The committee met on 15 April on the matter, and Schulz met with the chargé d’affaires of the Permanent Mission of Tunisia to the UN on 18 April. Kartas, a German-Tunisian dual national, is accused of espionage. On 15 May, the UN spokesperson said that the arrest is “in violation of the privileges and immunities that have been granted to Mr. Kartas in the interests of the United Nations” and “requested Mr. Kartas’ immediate release and for the charges against him to be dropped”. On 21 May, a Tunisian appeals court decided to release Kartas; while he was able to return to Germany, the case against him is still open.
On 8 May, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda delivered her semi-annual briefing on the status of cases in Libya, cooperation of states, and investigations and monitoring of potential crimes committed since February 2011, including crimes against migrants.
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 4 April, Pre-Trial Chamber I rejected Gaddafi’s 5 June 2018 inadmissibility challenge; he appealed the ruling on 11 April.
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.
Two arrest warrants (of 15 August 2017 and 4 July 2018) were issued by Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC for Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf Al-Werfalli, a commander participating in Haftar’s 2014 Operation Dignity (attacking Islamists) in Benghazi. To date, Al-Werfalli has not been surrendered to the ICC despite reports that he turned himself in to the LNA after news that he had executed ten people on 24 January 2018 became public.
Women, Peace and Security
In a 2 May letter to the president of the Security Council, the chargé d’affaires of the Permanent Mission of Libya to the UN strongly criticising a briefing given by Inas Miloud, co-founder and director of Tamazight Women’s Movement of Libya, during the annual open debate on sexual violence in conflict at the Council. In response, a letter was sent on 10 May to the president of the Security Council by the Ambassadors of Belgium, the Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Peru, Poland and the UK, stating that “Notwithstanding the disagreement of the Government of National Accord with the content of Ms. Miloud’s briefing, we trust that she will be allowed to continue her work unhindered.”
Key Issues and Options
The immediate issue for the Council in June is the renewal of the authorisation for high-seas ship inspections granted to member states under resolution 2292, in support of the implementation of the arms embargo. Ahead of the renewal, the Council could hold an informal interactive dialogue with the commander of the EU military operation EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia, Enrico Credentino, and a representative of the European External Action Service, as was done in the last two years.
An ongoing issue is the military escalation, largely driven by long-standing political and economic divisions between the east and west of the country. The Council could adopt a resolution calling upon the parties to cease military activities and re-commit to mediation towards a political solution, also showing their support for Salamé and UNSMIL’s efforts. Council members individually could use their influence to put pressure on the parties and countries in the region to adhere to the arms embargo.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Last year, the authorisation was unanimously renewed without any substantive negotiations prior to adoption, and no member gave a statement before or after the vote.
Council resolutions and presidential statements routinely call upon UN member states to cease support for and official contact with parallel institutions in Libya, but some countries, including permanent members of the Council, fail to respect these calls and also continue to support Haftar militarily. Militias affiliated with the GNA publicly stated on 18 May that they, too, receive military support from abroad. The Panel of Experts of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee continues to allege that the United Arab Emirates violates the arms embargo and that Egypt provides military support to the LNA.
The UK is the penholder on Libya, sharing the pen with Germany on the sanctions file. Schulz chairs the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee.
|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.|
|10 May 2019S/2019/380||This was the Secretary General’s report on the implementation of resolution 2420, authorising 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.|
|7 January 2019S/2019/19||This was the Secretary-General’s report on UNSMIL.|
|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.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|21 May 2019S/PV.8530||This was the latest briefing by the Special Representative and head of UNSMIL, Ghassan Salamé.|
|8 May 2019S/PV.8523||This was the semi-annual briefing by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on recent developments concerning cases in Libya.|
|Sanctions Committee Documents|
|5 September 2018S/2018/812||This was the final report of the Panel of Experts.|