What's In Blue

Posted Fri 9 Jun 2017

Security Council to Reauthorise Maritime Interdiction to Implement the Arms Embargo on Libya

On Monday (12 June), the Security Council is scheduled to vote on a draft resolution renewing for an additional year resolution 2292 of 14 June 2016, which was aimed at ensuring implementation of the arms embargo on Libya. In particular, the draft renews the authorisation for member states, acting nationally or through regional organisations, to inspect, on the high seas off the coast of Libya, vessels bound to or from Libya when reasonable grounds exist to believe that they are violating the arms embargo. It further renews the authorisation for member states to seize and dispose arms and ammunition found during the inspection of these vessels.

The only substantive difference between this draft and resolution 2292 is that it requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council within eleven months on the implementation of the resolution. This is in keeping with a call by Russia for increased reporting on member state actions to implement the resolution, particularly those by the European Union’s EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia. Resolution 2292 already requires member states, or regional organizations through which they are acting, to report to the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee on inspections related to the enforcement of the embargo and the disposal of embargoed materiel.

At the request of Russia, which asked for more information before engaging on the renewal of the authorisation of resolution 2292, an informal interactive dialogue was held on 31 May with Enrico Credendino, Commander of EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia, and Pedro Serrano, Deputy Secretary-General of the European External Action Service. In that meeting, both briefers stressed that the actions undertaken on the basis of resolution 2292 had a deterrent effect regarding potential violations of the arms embargo on Libya. As of May, the Operation had carried out 530 actions in accordance with resolution 2292, among them 45 friendly approaches, 7 flag enquiries and two inspections. The only one resulting in the seizure of weapons took place on 1 May, when the motor vessel El-Mukhtar, flying a Libyan flag, was interdicted in the high seas off the coast of Libya.

Last year the negotiations on resolution 2292 were difficult because of differences over how to refer to flag state consent. However, the resolution was adopted unanimously following the insertion of language, after the draft was already in blue, ensuring that member states make good-faith efforts to “obtain” (instead of “seek”) the consent of the flag state, prior to any inspection.