What's In Blue

Posted Mon 12 Dec 2016

Vote on a Resolution Renewing UNSMIL’s Mandate

Tomorrow (13 December), Council members will vote on a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) until 15 September 2017. The draft was circulated by the penholder, the UK, last Wednesday and all 15 Council members met only once to discuss the draft, which was put under silence on Friday. Following bilateral consultations with Russia after it broke silence, it was put in blue earlier today.

The resolution that will be voted on tomorrow, renews UNSMIL’s mandate to focus particularly on mediation and good offices efforts to support the implementation of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA), the consolidation of the governance, security and economic arrangements of the Government of National Accord (GNA) and subsequent phases of the Libyan transition process. Council members reordered the priorities of UNSMIL’s tasks—to be carried out within operational and security constraints—as follows:

  • support to key Libyan institutions;
  • support, on request, for the provision of essential services, and delivery of humanitarian assistance in accordance with humanitarian principles;
  • human rights monitoring and reporting;
  • support for securing uncontrolled arms and related materiel and countering their proliferation; and
  • co-ordination of international assistance.
  • The last task also includes new language regarding the provision of advice and assistance to GNA-led efforts to stabilise post-conflict zones, including those liberated from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The draft encourages UNSMIL to continue to prioritise its tasks and mediation efforts in full consultation with the Presidency Council and other Libyan institutions, and in response to its needs and the evolving situation in the country.

    The Secretary-General, in his 1 December report, had recommended that UNSMIL’s mandate be renewed for a period of one year. However, several Council members argued for a shorter renewal of six months, given the need to closely monitor the situation in Libya in order to allow for possible changes to the mandate if needed. A six-month renewal could also take account of the strategic assessment review to be conducted in early 2017 to align the re-establishment of a UN presence in Libya with the political, security and operational realities on the ground (UNSMIL has been operating from Tunisia since 2014). However, some Council members felt that a longer mandate would provide more stability to the mission and shortening UNSMIL’s extension would cast a negative light on developments in Libya. As a result of the divisions among Council members, the final draft compromises by renewing UNSMIL for nine months. The draft includes language on the outcome of the strategic assessment review and specifies that the Council stands ready to review the mandate of the mission if needed.

    It seems that during the 6 December consultations with Special Representative of the Secretary-General Martin Kobler, some Council members raised concerns at what they perceived as too positive an outlook on the situation in Libya and stressed the lack of progress on the political front, one year after the signing of the LPA. As a result, the press statement that was issued after the meeting included language expressing the Council’s deep concern over the challenging political context and serious political polarisation in Libya that had not been included in the original draft (SC/12613). The press statement was also amended to include a call on the parties to accelerate the implementation of the LPA, as well as language on the Prime Minister’s mandate to submit a full agreed list of the members of the GNA and its programme for the endorsement of the House of Representatives. It seems that the original draft only included language urging the House of Representatives to endorse the Constitutional Declaration amendment as a necessary step toward full implementation of the LPA.

    One of the suggestions in the Secretary-General’s report, which expressed deep concern at the slow pace of implementation of the LPA, was a review of the international community’s approach to the Libyan democratic transition process, should efforts to adopt a new Constitution and establish democratically elected institutions within a reasonable timeframe fail. Some Council members have emphasised the importance of a formal endorsement of the GNA by the House of Representatives, while others have been interacting bilaterally with the Presidency Council of the GNA as the legitimate government of Libya. The absence of a strategic discussion by the Council, and the short timeframe for the negotiations of the draft, are indications that Council members do not appear inclined to modify their approach on Libya at this juncture.