What's In Blue

Posted Tue 28 Apr 2015

Consultations on the Political Process in Libya

Tomorrow morning (29 April), Bernardino León, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), is scheduled to brief the Council in consultations. The briefing, requested by Jordan, this month’s Council president, is expected to provide an update on the political dialogue facilitated by León.

During March and April there have been several rounds of talks among different Libyan political actors in Algeria, Belgium, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. On 24 March, León made public a proposal for a new government structure until a new constitution is adopted and elections are held. The proposal includes the formation of a national unity government headed by a prime minister and two deputies, the House of Representatives as the legislative body and a High State Council with an advisory role. It seems that a draft proposal along these lines has been shared with the parties, which are expected to provide comments in the coming days. Council members might be keen on knowing about the level of engagement of the parties, the outstanding unresolved issues and the role that the Council as a whole, and Council members separately, can have in pressuring the parties to reach an agreement.

Council members are likely to want to hear more about the security situation on the ground and developments on the security track of the Libyan dialogue. The security situation continues to be critical, with ongoing fighting between the two main coalitions—Misrata-based and Islamist militias (collectively known as Libya Dawn) and Zintan-based militias and elements of the army commanded by General Khalifa Haftar (Operation Dignity)– which continues, particularly around ports and airports. A new outbreak of violence in Tripoli in mid-April between the two groups was condemned by UNSMIL. León recently expressed his intention to facilitate a meeting with leaders of armed groups. Council members might want to know if the political and security tracks are being held in parallel or whether one is dependent on the other. They might also be interested in possible mechanisms for the implementation of a ceasefire, should this be achieved, and the role that León envisions for the UN and the international community in monitoring it.

The recent killings of five journalists and over 30 Ethiopian Christians in terrorist attacks carried out by Al-Qaida affiliates in Libya are likely to be discussed in the meeting, Council members may ask León for an assessment of the current strength of these groups, including Ansar al-Sharia and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. There may also be interest in getting more information about the outcome of military operations conducted by the two warring coalitions against these groups, as well as about the humanitarian impact of such operations.

The humanitarian situation in Libya is likely to be of interest to Council members. On 19 April, more than 700 migrants drowned after the boat which they were on sank near Libya. According to the Integrational Organization for Migration, more than 1,500 people have drowned in similar circumstances in the Mediterranean Sea since the beginning of January. In a 21 April press statement, Council members expressed grave concern at the recent proliferation of the smuggling of migrants off the coast of Libya. Even though this issue exceeds the scope of the conflict in Libya and is expected to be tackled separately by the Council in the coming weeks, Council members might be interested in asking León about reactions among Libyans of the potential responses to this phenomenon which are being discussed by the European Union and others. Also, Council members may be interested in getting a better understanding of how the humanitarian dimension features in the political dialogue, particularly the return of the approximately 400,000 people internally displaced by the conflict in Libya.

Regarding possible ways of pressuring the parties, Council members have reiterated in resolution 2214, adopted on 27 March, their willingness to impose sanctions on those threatening the peace, stability or security of Libya. A confidential annex to the 23 February final report of the Panel of Experts to the 1970 Sanctions Committee included a proposed list of thirteen names of people who were found to be obstructing or undermining the successful completion of the political transition. (This designation criterion was established in resolution 2174 of 27 August 2014.) However, the Committee has not received any listing proposal from member states. Council members appear inclined to wait and see if the political process yields results before imposing sanctions on any individuals, but will likely want to ask León for his view as to whether and when such sanctions could be useful.

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