April 2024 Monthly Forecast



Expected Council Action   

In April, the Security Council will hold its bimonthly briefing on the situation in Libya. Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Abdoulaye Bathily will brief the Council on recent political, security, and humanitarian developments in the country and the Secretary-General’s latest report on UNSMIL. The chair of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Yamazaki Kazuyuki (Japan), will also brief on the committee’s activities.  

Key Recent Developments  

The political impasse in Libya continues between the UN-recognised Government of National Unity (GNU), based in Tripoli and led by Prime Minister Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah, and the eastern-based Government of National Stability (GNS), led by Prime Minister Osama Hamad and aligned with the House of Representatives (HoR) and the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) under the command of General Khalifa Haftar. The prolonged stalemate involving the rival governments—which has persisted since the indefinite postponement of elections that had been scheduled for December 2021—is a key driver of Libya’s political, security, and economic instability.  

In this context, both the UN and national actors have concentrated efforts on facilitating agreement on a new roadmap for national elections to unify the country’s divided governments. In March 2023, the HoR and the GNU-aligned High State Council (HSC) established a “joint 6+6 committee”—composed of six representatives from each body—to draft electoral laws to enable elections. In June 2023, the committeeannouncedthat it had reached agreement on draft legislation, which the HoR and HSC subsequently approved.    

The proposed legislation proved to be controversial, with various political factions contesting several of its provisions and both UNSMIL and Libya’s High National Elections Commission (HNEC) identifying technical shortcomings. In September 2023, the 6+6 committee submitted to the HoR an amended version of the draft legislation, which the HoR approvedon 2 October. Subsequently, it was sent to the HNEC for implementation, and the commission confirmed that the revised legislation was technically feasible. On 4 October, however, the HSC rejected the revised legislation, instead endorsing the 6+6 committee’s previous version and withdrawing its members from the committee.   

In an attempt to break the impasse, UNSMIL announced in a 23 November 2023 statementthat Bathily had invited key Libyan institutional stakeholders to a meeting to facilitate a settlement on the politically contested electoral issues. The statement said that Bathily had requested the HoR, HSC, LNA, and Presidential Council (established under the 2015 Libyan Political Agreement to serve as the country’s head of state) to designate representatives to attend a preparatory meeting to discuss the date, venue, and agenda of the meeting of their principals. The parties have not been able to agree on the parameters of the initiative, however, setting different and partially conflicting conditions for participation. At the Council’s 15 February briefing on Libya, Bathily explained that the HoR has insisted that the main issue on the agenda should be the formation of a new unified government to organise elections, while Dbeibah has contended that the GNU will supervise the coming electoral process, meaning he will step down only after elections have been held. The HSC has pushed for the discussion to focus on reverting to the initial version of the 6+6 committee’s draft legislation.  

At the 15 February briefing, Bathily reiterated that progress on holding credible national elections is not possible without a political settlement among Libya’s main institutional stakeholders, and he called on them to “put their self-interests aside” and negotiate all contested issues in good faith. He also stressed the Council’s “critical role” in exerting pressure on Libyan leaders to this end, as well as the importance of a unified and coordinated approach by all members of the international community. In this context, Bathily said that “parallel initiatives” are useful only if they support UN efforts. Otherwise, Libyan actors may use them “as a means to perpetuate the status quo”. 

Following the briefing, Council members issued a press statement on 27 February reaffirming their commitment to an inclusive, Libyan-led and Libyan-owned political process, facilitated by the UN, which builds on the updated electoral laws agreed by the 6+6 committee and which will enable free and fair national elections to be held “as soon as possible”. The statement also called on all key stakeholders to engage fully with Bathily “in good faith and without preconditions and make the compromises necessary to move the country forward towards elections”. 

On 10 March, the heads of the HoR, HSC, and Presidential Council met in Cairo under the auspices of the Arab League. In a joint statement following the meeting, the leaders said that they had agreed on the need to establish a unified government to organise elections and had decided to set up a technical committee “within a specified period of time” to build consensus on the 6+6 committee’s legislation, consider amendments, and resolve contested issues. The statement further called on UNSMIL and the international community to support the process to ensure its success. In an 11 March post on X (formerly Twitter), Bathily said that Presidential Council President Mohamed Menfi had informed him of the outcome of the Cairo meeting and that they had agreed to follow up on its conclusions. Neither Dbeibah nor Haftar attended the meeting, however, and some independent analysts have questioned the initiative’s chances of success.  

The AU has continued to support efforts to convene a national reconciliation conference in Libya. On 5 February, the AU High-Level Committee on Libya, which is chaired by Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso, held a summit in Brazzaville, resulting in an outcome declaration that welcomed the recent decision of the Preparatory Committee for the Inclusive Conference on National Reconciliation—a joint planning entity comprising AU and Libyan representatives that is led by Libya’s Presidential Council—to hold the conference on 28 April in the city of Sirte.  

Regarding the security situation, Bathily said during his 15 February Council briefing that no violations of the 2020 ceasefire agreement had been recorded during the reporting period. He cautioned, however, that the political stalemate continued to impede progress on implementing the agreement’s outstanding provisions, particularly the withdrawal of foreign forces. He also noted that competition between semi-governmental armed groups—which are affiliated with different factions of the GNU—to control strategic areas in Tripoli continued to threaten the city’s “fragile security”. On 22 February, GNU Interior Minister Imad Trabelsi announced that the groups had agreed to transfer regular security duties in Tripoli to the police and would cease street patrols by the end of Ramadan on 9 April.  

On 19 March, armed clashes broke out at the Ras Jdir border crossing into Tunisia, which the GNU subsequently closed. The violence reportedly occurred after Trabelsi signed a decree mandating GNU security forces to “combat smuggling” and “maintain security” at the border crossing, which is in a region inhabited by the Amazigh—Libya’s largest ethnic minority—and under the de facto control of their governing body, known as the Amazigh Supreme Council. The GNU attempted a similar military operation at Ras Jdir in November 2023. Some analysts have cited control over the illicit economic activities taking place at the border crossing as the main cause of the ongoing dispute. 

At the Council’s February briefing, Bathily reiterated his concern about the country’s human rights situation, particularly for migrants and refugees. He described an increase in Sudanese refugees entering Libya, to which UN agencies have limited access, and criticised the forced expulsion of refugees to Libya’s neighbouring countries, which violates international law. He also repeated his call for full access and independent investigations into alleged violations and abuses in Libyan detention facilities, where conditions are “particularly dire”. Illustrating the severe situation facing migrants and refugees in Libya, up to 60 people reportedly drowned on 13 March when a rubber dinghy that departed from north-western Libya deflated in the central Mediterranean. Some days later, on 22 March, the International Organization for Migration announced the discovery of a mass grave in south-western Libya containing the bodies of at least 65 migrants who are believed to have died while being smuggled through the desert.  

Key Issues and Options    

Supporting political momentum towards national elections to unify Libya’s divided governments remains the key issue for the Security Council. In this context, an important objective for the Council is to help foster common political ground between the country’s rival legislatures to agree on electoral laws—a goal that Bathily has repeatedly urged Council members to support by wielding their influence on national stakeholders.   

At April’s meeting, members are likely to reiterate their call on Libyan actors to partake in good faith negotiations to finally achieve consensus on outstanding political issues. In this regard, some members may stress the importance of fully engaging with Bathily’s mediation efforts and caution against competing initiatives that fail to deliver tangible progress toward elections, thereby prolonging the status quo. They might also welcome the AU-supported reconciliation conference in April as an important milestone that could help facilitate political agreement. The Council could consider adopting a presidential statement delivering these messages.   

Council Dynamics    

Council members remain united on the need for a Libyan-led, inclusive political process resulting in elections that will help to restore political, security, and economic stability to the country. They also remain broadly supportive of the UN’s mediation role in this regard.  

Broader geopolitical tensions still influence Council dynamics with respect to Libya, however. The US and other Western members remain concerned about the presence of the Wagner Group—the private Russian security company—in the eastern part of the country under Haftar’s control. For its part, Russia routinely blames Libya’s current instability on the NATO-led military intervention in 2011 and accuses Western countries of seeking to exploit Libya’s oil reserves for economic gain.    

The UK is the penholder on Libya.  

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Security Council Resolution
30 OCTOBER 2023S/RES/2702 This resolution extended UNSMIL’s mandate until 31 October 2024.
Secretary-General’s Report
7 DECEMBER 2023S/2023/967 This was the 120-day report on UNSMIL.


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