What's In Blue

Posted Mon 22 Oct 2012

Council Activity on Libya and Syria

It seems that Council members may have a briefing and consultations on Libya and Syria tomorrow morning (23 October) following a request by Russia. This morning (22 October) Russia circulated three draft press statements, one on Libya and two on Syria. The press statement on Libya focuses on the escalation of violence around the city of Bani Walid. The other two drafts are on the terrorist attack in Damascus on 21 October and the initiative by the Joint UN-Arab League Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, for a ceasefire during the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid Al Adha which begins on Friday. All three were put under silence until 3 pm today but it seems that the EU Council members broke silence and requested more time.

Apparently the draft press statement on the ceasefire in Syria welcomes the initiative and calls on both the government of Syria and on all opposition groups to respond positively to it as a first step towards the cessation of hostilities and the launch of a political process. Brahimi is in Damascus and met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad yesterday. So far his proposal for a ceasefire has been met with lukewarm response from both Syrian government forces and opposition groups. Although Council members have not yet expressed any formal positions, it seems that there is likely to be general agreement to welcoming this initiative and that any changes are likely to be related to bringing the text in line with previous statements on Syria.

It seems the other draft press statement on Syria condemns the terrorist attack in Damascus, while reaffirming that terrorism is a serious threat to peace and security and the Council’s determination to combat all forms of terrorism. However, it appears that some members, while open to responding to the terrorist attack, have concerns about the Council not addressing in a similarly systematic way government attacks or abuses.

Regarding the draft press statement on Libya, which focuses on the escalation of violence in and around Bani Walid and the civilian casualties, some members seem to want more information about the situation on the ground before agreeing to the text. According to media reports, Libyan army forces have launched a full-scale assault against the town, alleging it is controlled by supporters of former dictator Muammar Qaddafi. Other elements in the draft include the need for the Libyan authorities to take urgent steps to resolve the conflict and to promote national reconciliation and inclusive political dialogue.

Responding to the violence around Bani Walid today (22 October), the Secretary-General reminded all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law and called on the Libyan authorities and those in Bani Walid to begin immediately a process to resolve the stand-off peacefully.

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