What's In Blue

Briefing and Consultations on the Initialing of a Peace Agreement in Libya

Tomorrow morning (15 July), the Security Council is scheduled to receive a briefing from Bernardino León, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), followed by consultations. The briefing is expected to focus on the 11 July initialing of a peace agreement by some parties to the conflict in the Moroccan city of Skhirat. In addition, the Council will be briefed by the chair of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Ramlan Ibrahim (Malaysia), and hold consultations on Libya sanctions.

The agreement provides for a one-year government of national accord. The executive authority will rely on a council of ministers headed by a presidency council comprised of a prime minister, two deputies and two ministers; the House of Representatives will remain the legislative body and a State Council will be created to act as a consultative body with the capacity to express both binding and advisory opinions.

Even though the agreement was initialed by representatives from the Tobruk-based House of Representatives and officials from, among others, municipalities such as Tripoli and Misrata, the Tripoli-based General National Congress refused to initial the agreement. In a statement at the initialing ceremony, León stated that “the door remains open for those who chose not to be here today. They also have played a crucial role in developing this text.” At press time, a draft press statement welcoming the agreement and calling on all parties to engage with the Libyan political dialogue and unite in support of the agreement was being negotiated. It appears that the main issue is whether to refer to the agreement as “the Skhirat Agreement”.

Council members might be interested in León’s plan to bring on board the GNC, as well as how the outstanding issues will be addressed (including the annexes to the agreement, which are still to be negotiated and are expected to provide details on some of its provisions, including nominations to the presidency council). However, no further changes are expected in the body of the agreement. Council members might want to hear more about the challenges associated with implementing the agreement since it has not been initialed by all the parties, including issues regarding the monitoring of the ceasefire and other interim security arrangements. Council members may be interested in whether dynamics on the ground are likely to allow for a return of UNSMIL to Libya any time soon. In light of the fluidity of the developments on the ground UNSMIL’s mandate was only renewed at the end of March for six months, and Council members may now want to start thinking about the changes that will be needed to UNSMIL’s mandate in order to support the implementation of the agreement and the work of the new government of national accord.

The persistence of hardliners on both sides is likely to feature prominently in the discussions. Council members are expected to ask about the effectiveness of imposing sanctions, in order to tackle spoilers of the political process. Even though León has repeatedly emphasised the usefulness of sanctions in advancing the political process, a proposal by France, Spain, the UK and the US to impose sanctions (travel ban and asset freeze) on two individuals was put on hold by Russia and China in early June. (Resolution 2213, adopted on 27 March, reiterated the Council’s willingness to impose sanctions on those threatening the peace, stability or security of Libya.) Questions may be raised about whether sanctions should be imposed on individuals from both sides.

Council members might inquire about the current activities of terrorist groups in Libya, such as Ansar al-Sharia and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, including their regional reach. Briefing the 1267/1989 Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee on 15 June, as per resolution 2214, the Monitoring Team highlighted how the porous nature of its borders, the political turmoil and the difficulties in implementing the arms embargo are contributing to the growing threat of Al-Qaida affiliates in Libya. Some Council members might be interested in the impact of an eventual agreement signed by all parties in the fight against terrorism in Libya. (In March, proposals to lift the arms embargo and exemption requests for shipments of military materiel to the government were put on hold by several Council members due to fears regarding the impact such decisions could have on the dynamics on the ground in the absence of a political solution.)

Even though discussions on this issue tomorrow are unlikely, some Council members might be interested in pursuing negotiations on a draft resolution authorising operation EU NAVFOR Med to tackle the smuggling of migrants off the coast of Libya. Negotiations on the resolution, which have been on hold since May given the difficulties in obtaining consent from the Libyan authorities, might resume once a government of national accord is sworn in.

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