What's In Blue

Briefing and Consultations on Libya Mission and Sanctions

Monday morning (16 September), the Security Council is scheduled to receive a briefing by Tarek Mitri, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), followed by consultations. The Council will also receive the periodic briefing by the chair of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Eugéne-Richard Gasana (Rwanda), and hold consultations on Libya sanctions. No Council action is planned at this stage.

Council members are likely to raise concerns over the increasing polarisation of the political debate in Libya, and the difficulties encountered by the General National Congress (GNC) in accomplishing its functions. Council members might also have questions about whether the recently adopted political isolation law and electoral law for the constituent assembly are sufficiently inclusive. There may be concerns that because the political isolation law precludes the participation of former Qaddafi-era officials from leadership positions in the government and the electoral law may not guarantee enough representation of women and minorities in the constituent assembly this could affect the overall inclusivity of the transitional process.

It is also possible that Council members will have a number of questions for Mitri on the national dialogue initiative announced by Prime Minister Ali Zeidan on 25 August, including how the UN can contribute to the initiative, how this initiative can overcome the cleavages which have hindered the work of the GNC and how it will interact with the constitutional-drafting process.

Another area of concern that Council members might want more information on is the volatile security situation in Libya, which includes targeted political assassinations, criminal activity and attacks and threats against the diplomatic community. In particular, Council members might inquire about the militias challenging state authority, in the light of recent interference with oil exports in several ports and heightened tensions in Tripoli and Benghazi, where government-affiliated militias have engaged in clashes with protestors and rival revolutionary units.

Steps taken towards security sector reform might also be of interest to Council members. As the Secretary-General acknowledged in his 5 September report (S/2013/516), the situation of some 8,000 conflict-related detainees has remained largely unchanged since February. Even though a few thousand detainees remain nominally under the authority of relevant ministries, thousands of others continue to be held by armed brigades not affiliated with the state in any form.

For the last two years Libya has been a source of tension in the Council with some members questioning the way in which resolution 1973 was implemented and others more likely to emphasise positive developments since the 2011 revolution. Although it seems that many Council members are aware of the current shortfalls in the transition process it is unclear if they will be able to come to an understanding of what might be needed to ensure that the process is not derailed.

The last two Council briefings on Libya have resulted in negative press reports in Libya.
After local press reported on Mitri’s bleak assessment of the security situation and political developments in the 18 June briefing (S/PV.6981), he had to hold a press conference on 23 June. During the conference, he explained how some Council members, “due to their excessive focus on the problems, lean towards having greater concerns over what is called in the UN the democratic transition and state-building.” Some Council members have shown concern over the way actors in Libya may perceive the role of the Council and might want to explore ways of engaging better with Libyan authorities and civil society.

In briefing the Council on the work of the 1970 Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Gasana is likely to cover the 8 July meeting of the Committee during which the Panel of Experts (PoE) presented its interim report. Among its recommendations, the PoE asked Libya to clarify the procedures in place at all ministries, other than the Ministry of Defence, to deal with procurement of lethal material.

Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Tags: , ,
Sign up for What's In Blue emails