Expected Council Action
In February, the Security Council will hold a briefing, followed by consultations, on the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).
The mandate of UNSMIL expires on 31 October 2023.
Key Recent Developments
It has been over one year since the postponement of national elections planned for 24 December 2021 and seven years since the signing of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). The leadership stand-off continues between incumbent Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah, elected in February 2021 to head the interim Government of National Unity (GNU), and former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha, who was elected interim prime minister by the House of Representatives (the Libyan legislature based in Tobruk) on 10 February 2022. The protracted political stalemate contributes to the country’s political, economic, and security instability.
According to the Secretary-General’s latest UNSMIL report, dated 9 December 2022, only minimal progress has been made towards agreeing on a pathway to elections despite the resumption of talks between Speaker of the House of Representatives Aguila Saleh and President of the High State Council Khaled Mishri. The two met in Cairo on 5 January. In a statement following the meeting, UNSMIL “strongly encourage[d] the two chambers to now swiftly reach a complete and final agreement including on the contentious issues to finalize the steps required to take the country to inclusive national elections within a specific timeframe”.
On the security track, UNSMIL continues to support the work of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission, including to facilitate implementation of the 2020 ceasefire agreement. The Secretary-General’s report said that the agreement continues to hold, although the security situation remained tense throughout the country. UNSMIL also continued to support the establishment of an effective Libyan Ceasefire Monitoring Mechanism. The Joint Military Commission met on 15 and 16 January, during which UN Special Representative for Libya Abdoulaye Bathily announced the launch of joint work between the international ceasefire monitoring team and Libyan monitors in Sirte. On the economic track, the Secretary-General’s December report noted that efforts to implement reform and reunification measures for the Central Bank of Libya, recommended by the UN-facilitated international audit, have remained stalled since May 2022 because of ongoing divisions within the Central Bank.
The humanitarian and human rights situations remain alarming as violations against migrants and refugees continue with impunity, including arbitrary detention “in inhumane and degrading conditions in both official and unofficial centres managed by state and non-state actors”, the report said. The report also states that “Libyan security agencies and affiliated armed groups continued to target civil society actors with hate speech and incitement to violence, while UNSMIL continued to receive reports of threats, hate speech and arbitrary arrests and detentions”.
On 22 January, there was a consultative meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers in Tripoli, which Bathily also attended. According to media reports, the meeting was attended by five of the 22 member states of the Arab League, including neighbouring Algeria and Tunisia.
Bathily last briefed the Council on 16 December 2022. He urged “the Council, its members and all those with convening power to support UNSMIL’s efforts to bring Libyan political leaders back to the negotiating table and prevent a further deterioration of the situation”. (For more, see our What’s in Blue story of 15 December 2022.)
On 20 December 2022, Council members issued a press statement that “expressed their deep concern at the persistent political deadlock in Libya and disappointment at the lack of progress”. The statement expressed strong support for Bathily and reiterated calls on all Libyan parties and key stakeholders to engage in dialogue with him. It also highlighted the need for progress in relation to the security, economic and human rights situations, among other things.
Sanctions Committee-Related Developments
At the briefing on 16 December 2022, India made a statement in its capacity as then-chair of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee, covering the period from 31 August 2022 to 16 December 2022. Among its activities during this period, the committee approved a request for exemption in relation to the arms embargo; extended for a fourth time the six-month exemption request granted for humanitarian purposes to three individuals on the committee’s list; and received an eighth communication from the focal point for delisting, in connection with the delisting request of a listed individual. That process is still ongoing.
Key Issues and Options
Key issues remain the precarious political, economic, and security situations linked to Libya’s uncertain electoral path. A related concern for the Council will be how to foster common political ground between the two rival governments so they can agree on a constitutional framework to pave the way for Libya’s long-delayed elections. Council members could consider holding a closed Arria-formula meeting with Libyan civil society representatives to help generate ideas for promoting dialogue between the rival political factions in Libya and supporting an inclusive political process leading to elections. Another concern remains the alarming human rights situation.
Council members have repeatedly stressed the urgent need for a Libyan-led inclusive political process and the holding of elections. Members have noted the precarious security situation, including that the protracted political stalemate continues to generate security threats, and continued to call for progress not only on the political track but also on the security and economic tracks. Many members have also highlighted the deteriorating living conditions across the country and the humanitarian and human rights conditions, including the situation of migrants and refugees. As well, some members remain concerned about the situation of women and girls, including survivors of gender-based and conflict-related violence.
At the briefing on 16 December 2022, the UK (penholder on Libya) highlighted reports of increased restrictions and decreased operating space for civil society organisations. Then-Council member Kenya (speaking on behalf of the three African members) emphasised that the peace process “must be truly Libyan-led and -owned” adding that “the international community should refrain from dictating solutions”. In its statement, Russia expressed the view that “Libyan politicians themselves are not very interested in finding a compromise” and that “the role of the United Nations is more relevant today than ever before”. In this regard, Russia called on UNSMIL to “step up its activity as an impartial and neutral mediator in moving forward” while expressing its readiness for “close cooperation and a substantive exchange of views” with Bathily.
UN DOCUMENTS ON LIBYA
|Security Council Resolution|
|28 October 2022S/RES/2656||This resolution extended UNSMIL’s mandate until 31 October 2023.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|16 December 2022S/PV.9223||This was a briefing on UNSMIL.|
|9 December 2022S/2022/932||This was the 60-day report on UNSMIL.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|20 December 2022SC/15156||This press statement expressed, among other things, deep concern at the persistent political deadlock in Libya.|