What's In Blue

Posted Fri 14 Mar 2014

Adoption of a Resolution Renewing UNSMIL and Sanctions Regime in Libya

This afternoon, the Security Council is set to adopt a resolution extending the mandate of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) until 13 March 2015 and the mandate of the Panel of Experts (PoE) assisting the 1970 Libya Sanctions until 13 April 2015. The adoption of the resolution, which was originally scheduled for yesterday, was postponed after the US broke silence and circulated additional elements related to sanctions on the illicit export of crude oil from Libya that it wanted included in the draft resolution. However, following negotiations, it appears that it was decided to negotiate a separate resolution focused on the new elements introduced by the US and to adopt the draft which does not contain the US amendments today. This draft was put in blue late yesterday. It seems negotiations on the other resolution will begin this afternoon.

During a 10 March briefing by Tarek Mitri, the head of UNSMIL, Council members were given details of the 8 March incident where a North Korean-flagged vessel, the “Morning Glory” loaded Libyan oil at the rebel-held port of Sidra in eastern Libya. A draft press statement condemning the illegal seizure of energy facilities and the smuggling of natural resources from Libya, was circulated by the UK earlier this week, however Russia and China were unable to agree to it as they felt that the information on this incident was unclear.

It appears that the US amendments to the draft resolution were in response to this incident. It seems these new elements included condemnation of attempts to illicitly export crude oil from Libya and tasking the 1970 Sanctions Committee to impose measures related to vessels transporting crude oil illicitly exported from Libya. Both Russia and China indicated that they needed more time to consult with their capitals and analyse the possible implications of the new language.

The negotiations on the draft resolution that is now in blue began relatively smoothly. After being discussed among the P5, two rounds of negotiations were held with all Council members and the draft resolution was put under silence until Tuesday (11 March). After silence was broken by the US, three additional rounds were held, which did not lead to an agreement. The issue was added to the agenda for “Any Other Business” following yesterday’s consultations on Syria and discussed at permanent representative level. It seems that Russia made clear that it would veto the resolution if the new language from the US was included. This led to further negotiations yesterday evening, with a final decision being made by the P5 to go ahead with the original text and begin negotiations on a separate resolution focused on the illicit export of crude oil from Libya.

The text in blue makes minor changes to UNSMIL’s mandate in response to the security situation in Libya and the limitations of UNSMIL in carrying out its mandate in this context. The latest report by the Secretary-General (S/2014/131) stated that, taking into account the priorities of the government, the UN “will intensify its focus in particular on facilitating dialogue among Libyan political forces”, as well as expanding its work on the “safe storage of arms and ammunition throughout the country.” Along these lines, the draft resolution mandates UNSMIL, “as an immediate priority” to support the government to ensure the transition to democracy, including by assisting a single, inclusive and transparent national dialogue and the drafting of a new constitution. Also, unlike in resolution 2095, the draft resolution spells out the “good offices” role of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.

The mandate outlined by the draft resolution also includes the control of unsecured arms and related materiel in addition to countering their proliferation (which was already part of UNSMIL’s mandate). Former UNSMIL tasks, such as the restoration of public security as well as the provision of strategic and technical advice on issues such as the demobilisation and reintegration of ex-combatants or defence sector reform, which were elements of UNSMIL’s mandate, are not specified in the current draft.

In contrast to negotiations on a presidential statement in December 2013 (S/PRST/2013/21), when the different views of two permanent 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 featured prominently, this time controversial issues were first agreed upon among the P5 making for smoother negotiations. The draft resolution draws on some of the agreed language from that presidential statement which was not changed substantively during the negotiations.

It seems some non-permanent members pushed for inclusion of language noting the limitations of the February elections of the Constitutional Drafting Assembly which resulted in language urging political leaders to complete formation of the assembly. (Thirteen out of 60 seats had not been filled after two rounds of elections in February following security incidents and the boycott of Amazigh, Tabu and Tuareg minorities.)

Also, as proposed by Australia, the draft resolution acknowledges the contribution of the Council-mandated arms embargo in countering the illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons. A reference to the Arms Trade Treaty proposed by Chile was dropped following the opposition of at least one member who was not a signatory of the treaty. Also a preambular paragraph was added welcoming the efforts made by the Secretariat to expand and improve the roster of experts for the Security Council Subsidiary Organs Branch.

It seems that because of a lack of agreement at P5 level, Council members have not included in the draft resolution some of the key recommendations contained in the latest report of the PoE—such as extending the size of the PoE, clarifying the mechanisms by which frozen assets are disposed of or calling on the government to ensure clearer procurement procedures for military materiel and more precise end-user certificates.

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