What's In Blue

Posted Wed 4 Mar 2015

Technical Rollover Resolution on Libya

Tomorrow (5 March), the Council is set to adopt a technical rollover resolution renewing until 31 March the current mandate of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), which is due to expire on 13 March. The resolution is also expected to renew for the same period of time the measures on vessels transporting crude oil illicitly exported from Libya that expire on 19 March. No meetings were held to agree on this draft, which was circulated by email and is expected to be put in blue today. (The mandate of the 1970 Libya Panel of Experts is up for renewal on 13 April and is likely to be considered when UNSMIL’s mandate comes up for renewal again at the end of the month.)

In considering UNSMIL’s mandate, Council members would have had the Secretariat’s strategic assessment of the UN presence in Libya as a guide (S/2015/113). The report includes recommendations for the UN to focus its work on mediation, support to key institutions (such as the electoral commission, the central bank or the Constitutional Drafting Assembly), provision of essential services, human rights reporting and advocacy, as well as coordination of international engagement on Libya. The report highlights how, given the new environment in which UNSMIL operates and based on a realistic assessment of what it will be able to achieve in this context, “the Mission should be reduced substantially, while it refocuses its capacity on the tasks described above”. The changes in the situation on the ground notwithstanding, it seems Council members decided to give the political process more time to yield results before substantively amending the mandate of UNSMIL. It remains to be seen, however, whether much will have changed in the three week period before UNSMIL’s mandate will come up for renewal again.

In today’s (4 March) briefing to the Council, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Bernardino León announced the next round of negotiations to be held in Morocco starting tomorrow. The negotiations will include the major political stakeholders and revolve around three agenda items: the formation of a national unity government, security arrangements to pave the way for a comprehensive ceasefire and the completion of the constitution-drafting process. Subsequent dialogue meetings are expected to be held in Algeria and Belgium next week.

Both today and when he briefed the Council on 18 February following the 15 February release of a video depicting the beheading of 21 Christian men, including 20 Egyptian Copts, in Sirte by a Libyan branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), León emphasised that the success of the political dialogue and the formation of a national unity government are essential to combat terrorism. In today’s briefing he further highlighted that ISIS would stop at nothing in its bid to consolidate its presence in Libya and play on existing political divisions.

A second reason for the rollover may be a reaction to calls from Egypt and Libya, echoed in the Council by Jordan, for a lifting of the arms embargo as it applies to the government. Some members were concerned that the issue of the lifting of the arms embargo would have come up during negotiations and preferred to avoid any discussion of the sanctions regime at this point. In late February, Jordan circulated a draft resolution that would lift the arms embargo for the government. Although there were two rounds of negotiations, the draft was met with resistance by most Council members who were worried about the impact of lifting the arms embargo on the dynamics on the ground, as well as how it would reflect on their support for a political solution to the crisis in Libya. A final report by the panel of experts assisting the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee recently highlighted how arms transfers to Libya, exempted by the Committee or not, have contributed to the consolidation of militias on the ground (S/2015/128).

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