June 2024 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 June 2024
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Expected Council Action    

In June, the Security Council will hold its bimonthly briefing on the situation in Libya. Deputy Special Representative and Political Officer in Charge of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Stephanie Koury is expected to brief the Council on recent political, security, and humanitarian developments in the country. 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.   

Recent efforts by both the UN and national actors to facilitate agreement on a new roadmap for national elections to unify the country’s divided governments have not borne fruit.  The joint 6+6 committee—which was established by the HoR and the GNU-aligned High State Council (HSC) to draft electoral laws to enable elections, comprising six representatives from each body—presented its initial draft legislation in June 2023. Because of persistent disagreement about certain provisions in that draft, however, the committee subsequently amended the draft legislation in September 2023. The HoR approved this version, but the HSC rejected it, instead endorsing the previous draft and withdrawing its members from the 6+6 committee. 

Attempting to break the deadlock, UNSMIL announced in November 2023 that Special Representative Abdoulaye Bathily—who has since stepped down—had invited key Libyan institutional stakeholders to a meeting to resolve the contested electoral issues. The statement said that Bathily had requested the HoR, the HSC, the LNA, and the 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. Representatives of the GNS—which the UN does not officially recognise—were not invited to attend. 

The Secretary-General’s latest report on UNSMIL, which was published on 9 April and covers developments since 7 December 2023, described continued efforts by Bathily to convene Libyan stakeholders under his proposed format. The report noted, however, that limited progress had been made, as some actors had not yet nominated their representatives or had set preconditions for their participation. According to the report, Haftar and HoR Speaker Aguila Saleh insisted on including the GNS in the meetings or excluding both the GNS and GNU. In addition, Saleh requested that the meeting focus on the formation of a new unified government, while Dbeibah continued to affirm that the GNU would only step down following the successful completion of the electoral process. The HSC maintained its opposition to the revised electoral laws and sought to focus discussions on reverting to the initial version. 

While Bathily’s initiative remained stalled, the heads of the HoR, the HSC, and the Presidential Council met on 10 March in Cairo under the auspices of the League of Arab States (LAS). 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. On 9 May, Libyan press reported that Saleh had conducted a media interview in which he said that the HoR and HCS were nearing agreement on a “mechanism” to form a new unified government. No additional details have emerged since then, however. 

In his 16 April briefing to the Council, Bathily said that Libyan leaders had continued to respond to his mediation efforts with “stubborn resistance, unreasonable expectations, and indifference to the interests of the Libyan people”. He described competing initiatives outside the UN track as counterproductive and called for an end to the “selfish resolve of current leaders to maintain the status quo through delaying tactics and manoeuvres”. At a press conference following the briefing, Bathily confirmed that he had submitted his resignation to Secretary-General António Guterres, adding that “there is no way the UN can operate successfully” in Libya under the current circumstances.  

In a 6 May press statement, Council members expressed their gratitude to Bathily for his efforts and called on the Secretary-General to appoint a successor “as soon as possible”. The statement reiterated members’ continued support for UNSMIL and called on its interim leadership to continue to implement the mission’s mandate and ensure a smooth transition for a new Special Representative. Members also reaffirmed their commitment to an inclusive Libyan-led and Libyan-owned political process, facilitated by the UN and building on the 6+6 committee’s revised legislation, to deliver elections and “durable peace”. On 20 May, UNSMIL shared a video on X (formerly Twitter) in which Koury—whom Guterres appointed Deputy Special Representative for Political Affairs on 1 March—was titled Political Officer in Charge of UNSMIL and reiterated the mission’s commitment to facilitating an inclusive political process and the holding of free and fair elections to “restore the legitimacy of Libyan institutions”. 

Regarding the security situation, the Secretary-General’s latest report said that no violations of the 2020 ceasefire agreement had been recorded during the reporting period, but it expressed concern that sporadic clashes had continued in the country’s western region between rival militias affiliated with different factions of the GNU. Additionally, the Ras Jdir border crossing into Tunisia was closed on 18 March following tensions between local authorities and law enforcement forces affiliated with the GNU Ministry of Interior. The border crossing is in a region inhabited by the Amazigh—Libya’s largest ethnic minority—and has been under the de facto control of their governing body, known as the Amazigh Supreme Council. On 18 May, another security incident in the region resulted in one death and six injuries, although local officials reportedly described the violence as involving “individuals rather than armed groups”. In response, UNSMIL issued a statement urging an immediate end to the hostilities and calling on authorities to ensure the protection and safety of civilians. Independent analysts have cited competition over the illicit economic activities at the border crossing as one cause of the ongoing disputes in the region.  

On the reconciliation track, AU-supported preparations to convene a national reconciliation conference in Libya appear to have stalled. 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. During his April briefing to the Council, however, Bathily said that the conference had been postponed indefinitely, as “divisions among Libyan leaders manifested themselves once again on this critical file”. 

On 14 May, the Council received the biannual briefing of the ICC Prosecutor, Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, on the ICC’s Libya-related activities. Khan presented his office’s 27th report to the Council, which outlined a roadmap to complete the investigation phase of the court’s activities in the country by the end of 2025. The Council referred the situation in Libya to the ICC through the adoption of resolution 1970 on 26 February 2011 

On 31 May, the Council adopted resolution 2733, renewing for one year the authorisation for member states, acting nationally or through regional organisations, to inspect vessels on the high seas off the coast of Libya that they have reasonable grounds to believe are violating the arms embargo imposed on the country in resolution 1970.   

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 had repeatedly urged Council members to support by wielding their influence on national stakeholders.    

To receive additional perspectives on these efforts, one option for the Council is to invite representatives of the LAS and the AU to brief on their organisations’ recent engagement on the country, concerning the political process and reconciliation process, respectively. 

Following Bathily’s resignation, another issue for the Council concerns the Secretary-General’s appointment of his successor. When former Special Envoy Jan Kubiš resigned in November 2021, it took nearly a year to identify a successor, leading to Bathily’s appointment in September 2022. (Resolution 2629 of 29 April 2022 changed UNSMIL’s leadership position from a Special Envoy to a Special Representative.) Council members are likely to encourage a quicker appointment this time, although political differences may again complicate the process.  

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 toward this end.   

Broader geopolitical tensions still influence Council dynamics with respect to Libya, however. The US and other Western members remain concerned about Russia’s presence—which has reportedly grown in recent months—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 Resolutions
30 OCTOBER 2023S/RES/2702 This resolution extended UNSMIL’s mandate until 31 October 2024.
2 JUNE 2023S/RES/2684 This resolution renewed for one year the authorisation for member states, acting nationally or through regional organisations, to inspect vessels on the high seas off the coast of Libya that they have reasonable grounds to believe are violating the arms embargo.
Secretary-General’s Report
9 APRIL 2024S/2024/301 This was the 120-day report on UNSMIL.


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