What's In Blue

Libya Sanctions: Two names for listing under silence procedure

The proposed listing of two individuals under the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee is under silence procedure until tomorrow afternoon (5 June). The names were proposed by France, Spain, the UK and the US and, if adopted, they will be the first sanctions listing (travel ban and asset freeze) within the context of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee since June 2011. (The Committee decides by consensus whether to place an individual or entity on a sanctions list, according to proposals made by UN member states. This gives each member of the sanctions committee a de facto veto.)

It seems that one of the individuals to be listed is a member of the General National Congress, who has boycotted the House of Representatives. The other individual is the commander of a militia associated with Operation Dignity, who has reportedly been involved in violations of the arms embargo. The Tobruk-based government has reacted to the proposed designations through a letter sent today by Ambassador Ibrahim O. Dabbashi to the Council President questioning the helpfulness of the designation proposals in advancing the political process and characterising the information on one of the individuals as outdated.

Resolution 2213, adopted on 27 March, reiterated the Council’s willingness to impose sanctions on those threatening the peace, stability or security of Libya. It provided more detail on the designation criteria, first established in resolution 2174 of 27 August 2014, for those undermining the successful completion of Libya’s political transition. This includes, among other things, human rights and humanitarian law violations; attacks against ports, Libyan state institutions or installations and foreign missions; violations of the arms embargo; and acting for, on the behalf of, or at the direction of a listed individual or entity. A confidential annex to the 23 February final report of the Panel of Experts to the 1970 Sanctions Committee included a proposed list of 13 people found to be obstructing or undermining the successful completion of the political transition. Even though Special Representative of the Secretary-General Bernardino León has repeatedly emphasised the usefulness of sanctions in advancing the political process, until now no member state had submitted a proposal to the Committee for designation.

It seems the proposed listings are aimed at sending a message to the parties regarding the need to find a political settlement and to establish a government of national unity. It is also perceived as a signal of support to the moderates willing to engage in the political process. If the silence procedure is not broken, the listings will be effective ahead of the meetings between the parties scheduled in Skhirat (Morocco) and Berlin in the coming days, where León is expected to present his latest iteration of a draft agreement. Briefing Council members on 29 April, León stated that he intended to finalise an agreement before the start of Ramadan (17 June).

One of the issues regarding the listing of individuals has been how to target spoilers without further alienating the parties from the political process. General Khalifa Haftar, who commands Operation Dignity, seems to be considered a key spoiler by the Panel of Experts and some Council members, but no member state has proposed his listing given his supporters inside and outside the Council. There had been interest in proposing the listing of a senior military officer under Haftar’s chain of command but, as it seemed unlikely that this proposal would get unanimous support from Council members, his name was not included in the end. It seems the four members who have proposed the two individuals have tried to present their arguments for listing in a way that would persuade those members critical of imposing sanctions on the allies of the Tobruk-based government not to block the listings.

Postscript (8 June): On 5 June, Russia and China broke silence on the two listing proposals effectively blocking them.

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