What's In Blue

Posted Sun 14 Sep 2014

Briefings by the new UN Special Representative for Libya and Sanctions Committee Chair

On Monday morning (15 September), the Security Council is scheduled to receive a briefing from Bernardino León, the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), followed by consultations. The briefing is expected to build on the 5 September report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Libya (S/2014/653). The Council will also receive a briefing by the chair of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Eugéne-Richard Gasana (Rwanda), and hold consultations on Libya sanctions.

This meeting comes more than two weeks after the Council’s first formal outcome (resolution 2174 of 27 August) on the deteriorating situation in Libya over the last four months. This resolution was adopted following Tarek Mitri’s final briefing to the Council as Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNSMIL. In his statement, Mitri described the unprecedented gravity of the armed confrontations in the preceding days which he called “very alarming”. León, who brings to the post his three years’ experience as the EU Special Representative for the Southern Mediterranean, took over on 1 September. He is expected to brief Council members on his recent visit to Libya and provide his initial assessment on the way forward in Libya. Among other things, he is likely to discuss UNSMIL’s efforts to bring about a ceasefire. Since these efforts started, focusing initially on Tripoli, Misrata-based and Islamist militias have consolidated their control over the capital, where fighting against Zintan-based militias and their allies has subsided. Clashes continue in the outskirts of the capital, in places such as Warshefana. (Even though the UNSMIL staff are currently based in Tunisia, there have been regular missions to Libya since the withdrawal, security conditions permitting.)

Council members are likely to be interested in the current political dynamics in Libya, namely the challenges to the legitimacy of the House of Representatives and the interim government of Abdullah al-Thinni. (On 25 August, the General National Congress, whose mandate had ended, appointed Omar al-Hassi as the new prime minister and swore in a new government on 6 September in a move likely to exacerbate political tensions.) During his visit last week to Libya, León met with members of the House of Representatives. Council members therefore might also be interested in hearing León’s assessment of the sustainability of the House of Representatives which has to operate from the eastern town of Tobruk and has seen decreasing attendance in the last weeks. Since resolution 2174 adopted on 27 August imposed sanctions to be imposed on individuals and entities obstructing or undermining the successful completion of the political transition in Libya, some Council members might be interested in asking León about the potential impact of listing individuals under such provisions.

The risks of the conflict in Libya destabilising the region is also likely to be raised by Council members. Questions in this context may be asked particularly about the actions of terrorist group Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi and Derna and the presence of terrorist groups in the south. In a 9 September statement, France’s Minister of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian called for action in Libya, which he characterised as a “hub for terrorist groups.”

Following press reports of the direct involvement of neighbouring and regional countries in Libya, Council members may ask León for his thoughts on how to encourage all those with influence on the parties to support an immediate cessation of hostilities and to engage constructively in peaceful and inclusive political dialogue.

León is also expected to brief the Council on the violations of international humanitarian law in Libya. A 4 September report by UNSMIL and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights documented a series of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Libya, including indiscriminate shelling and attacks on civilian targets. Council members are expected to reiterate the importance of holding accountable those responsible for violations or abuses of human rights or violations of international humanitarian law, including those involved in attacks targeting civilians.

In his briefing to Council members, Gasana is expected to provide an update on the meetings of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee held since his last briefing to the Council in March. Council members may be particularly interested in hearing about the Committee’s discussion of the recommendations of the interim report of the Panel of Experts. In the light of the current security situation, the Panel has recommended that supplies of non-lethal military equipment, and the provision of any technical assistance, training or financial assistance, intended for security or disarmament assistance to the Libyan government, be approved by the Committee. The Panel has also recommended that the Committee encourage member states whose shipments of arms or related materiel were authorised by the Committee be suspended until further notice.

Finally, Council members are likely to ask León about the timing for the completion of the Secretariat’s strategic review of the mission. The conclusions of this review are expected to provide the Council with options in the near future.

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