What's In Blue

Posted Fri 13 Dec 2013

Presidential Statement on Libya

The Security Council seems likely to adopt a presidential statement on Monday (16 December) on the situation in Libya, following a briefing and consultations with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Support Mission to Libya (UNSMIL) Tarek Mitri, on Monday (9 December).

It seems the UK circulated a draft after the consultations on 9 December and two rounds of negotiations were held with the original intention of adopting it before Mitri’s return to Libya today. The draft statement is aimed at expressing the urgent need for a political settlement and to improve the security situation. A draft was put under silence until Thursday morning (12 December), but a Council member broke silence adding language and changing the order of some sentences in order to stress the worsening security situation in the country. Following this, bilateral negotiations were held, and the permanent members agreed on a compromise text that was put under silence again today until 5:00pm. Silence was not broken.

It appears that in the draft statement the Council underlines the importance of a single, inclusive national dialogue that can forge consensus on the priorities for securing a transition to democracy and for helping to ensure that all views in Libya are properly taken into account. It seems the Council also reiterates its support for the elected political institutions and calls on all parties in Libya to support the democratic transition, including agreement on its immediate next steps. (There is a high degree of uncertainty over the mandate of the General National Congress, which some believe is set to expire in February 2014.)

The draft apparently likewise stresses the urgent need to strengthen military and police institutions in Libya, supports the efforts of Libyan state forces to restore public security and expresses concern at the use of force by armed groups against state institutions, including the illegal seizure of energy facilities and smuggling of natural resources.

The dynamic around how to depict the situation in Libya has framed the negotiation of this presidential statement. The different perspectives of Council members on the overall security situation—including arms proliferation and its impact on the wider region—as well as how to depict the human rights situation, have featured prominently in this negotiation. For example, while Council members were unanimous in their condemnation of the killing of unarmed protestors in Tripoli on 15 November, there were differences over whether to welcome the withdrawal of some armed groups from Tripoli or just take note of it. It appears the statement ended up “taking note of” their withdrawal “as a positive development” as a compromise. Furthermore, some of the discussions in the last stages of the negotiation process were not about language, but about the particular order of sentences within a paragraph (with the idea that the first sentence of every paragraph sets its tone) and the order of the paragraphs within the statement (notably the order of the first two paragraphs).

One area of difference that was resolved was how to refer to arms proliferation. It seems the initial draft included a mention of the stockpiles procured by the Qaddafi regime which was dropped in the final version. The final draft apparently expresses the Council’s concern at the threat posed by unsecured arms and ammunition in Libya and their proliferation, which poses a risk to stability, including through transfer to terrorist and extremist groups. It also calls on the government to take concrete measures to control arms and ammunition stockpiles in Libya.

Another issue that came up during the negotiations was the appropriate language to refer to human right violations, including cases of torture and mistreatment, arbitrary detention and crimes committed against children. This issue was not addressed in the first draft. However, a compromise was struck in the final version, as the Council apparently expresses concerns about all human rights violations and abuses and calls for Libya to investigate and hold accountable perpetrators of such acts, including those against children.

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