What's In Blue

Posted Wed 9 May 2012

Libya and Libya Sanctions Committee Briefings & Consultations

Tomorrow (10 May), the Council is scheduled to receive a briefing from Ian Martin, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). Martin, who last briefed the Council on 7 March, is expected to update Council members on recent political and security developments in Libya ahead of the planned elections in June. (Resolution 2040 of 12 March extended UNSMIL’s mandate until 16 March 2013. The resolution also extended—and modified—the mandate of the Panel of Experts of the Libya Sanctions Committee for one year.)

Following Martin’s briefing, Ambassador José Filipe Moraes Cabral (Portugal)—as chair of the Libya Sanctions Committee—is due to provide a regular update on the Committee’s work, including a report of 16 March assessing the regional threats posed by the proliferation of arms from Libya. At the conclusion of the two briefings, Council members will meet in closed consultations to discuss both Libya and the Libya Sanctions Committee. No outcome is anticipated following tomorrow’s meetings.

With respect to Martin’s briefing, Council members are likely to be interested in updates on the national elections that are due to be held next month. Of particular concern will be the reported increasing divide between the National Transitional Council (NTC) and the interim government, with both accusing the other of incompetency. (On 4 May, Ahmed Zubair al-Senussi, a member of the NTC and leader of eastern Libya’s self-declared “Cyrenaica” region, reportedly called for a boycott of the elections.)

In addition to these political developments, Council members are expected to be concerned with the precarious security situation in Libya. Of particular note will likely be the recent attack on interim Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib’s office on 8 May by former rebels, who were angry over the suspension of a reward scheme that paid out stipends to anti-Qaddafi militia fighters. (On 10 April—the same day as the suspension took effect—armed groups fired their weapons at the NTC headquarters in Tripoli in protest at the stopped payments.)

Concerning the Libya Sanctions Committee, established by resolution 1970 (2011), Ambassador Cabral is likely to focus on two key documents. The first is the final report of the outgoing Panel of Experts of 20 March (S/2012/163), which addresses the arms embargo and the challenges related to securing military materiel and preventing its proliferation.

The second publication, which is likely to receive considerable attention, is the 16 March working document (which is an annex to the letter S/2012/178 of 26 March) adopted by the Committee. (This document was produced in response to the Council’s request in resolution 2017 for the Committee—in cooperation with relevant actors—to assess the threats, particularly related to terrorism, posed by the proliferation of all arms from Libya and, in particular, Man-Portable Air Defence Systems [MANPADS].)

The working document indicates that no MANPADS originating from Libya have been seized outside Libya to date. However, it goes on to state that “there is clear evidence of significant quantities of weapons having left Libya during the conflict.” The report also highlights the lack of control over armed brigades and their stockpiles as factors contributing to the illicit proliferation of arms both within and outside Libya.

It seems that China, India, Russia and South Africa are likely to address concerns raised by the working document’s findings. Specifically, some of those members seem likely to highlight the point that the increased supply of weapons and related material from Libya to the Sahel region likely fuelled pre-existing insecurity in the region, particularly in northern Mali. Additionally, some Council members are likely to voice concern over the NTC’s failure to disarm various rebel militias that have been responsible for sporadic clashes and infighting throughout Libya since the fall of Tripoli and its inability to exert full control over all militias.

The P3 (France, UK, US) seem likely to acknowledge that the NTC faces considerable challenges but seek to advance the discussion on Libya beyond issues related to resolutions 1970 and 1973 and focus on next steps, including the elections. There might also be further attention given to the role that the International Criminal Court (ICC) should play in the trial of Saif al-Islam Qaddafi—currently being held by a military brigade in the town of Zintan. (A separate briefing from the ICC Prosecutor is scheduled for 16 April.)

Following Martin’s last briefing to the Council in March, China and Russia raised the issue of civilian casualties during the NATO campaign. The US, and European NATO members on the Council, referred to the International Commission of Inquiry’s report on the matter of 2 March which stated that NATO “conducted a highly precise campaign with a demonstrable determination to avoid civilian casualties”. The issue seems unlikely to be a major focus of tomorrow’s briefing, with greater attention anticipated to be on the proliferation of arms issue.

Follow us on Twitter

Sign up for What's In Blue emails