What's In Blue

Posted Fri 25 Aug 2017

Briefing and Consultations on Libya

On Monday (28 August), the Council is expected to receive a briefing from the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ghassan Salamé, and the chair of the 1970 Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Olof Skoog (Sweden). This briefing will be followed by consultations.

Salamé will brief Council members on his engagement with Libyan and regional actors since assuming his position on 26 July. In particular, he is expected to discuss how he can build on the initiatives of different member state to advance political dialogue among Libyans. The last of these initiatives, a meeting between the head of the Presidency Council, Faiez Serraj, and the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar, held at the initiative of French President Emmanuel Macron, was welcomed by the Security Council in a press statement in late July. Salamé is expected to stress the need to ensure coordination and coherence of mediation efforts and the central role of the UN in facilitating a Libyan-led political dialogue.

During a luncheon with Council members this month, Secretary-General António Guterres announced his intention to convene a meeting on Libya in the margins of the high-level segment of the General Assembly in September. At the meeting, Guterres is expected to outline a comprehensive strategy and an action plan for the engagement of the UN system in Libya. Council members might be interested in discussing with Salamé the consultation process that he is currently undertaking to develop this plan and his preliminary assessment of how the Council can support his work.

Growing consensus around the need to amend some provisions of the Libyan Political Agreement will be raised in the meeting, with Salamé most likely discussing his interaction with different actors regarding this matter. Outstanding issues relate to the mandate and structure of the Presidency Council and the authority of the supreme commander of the armed forces. Council members might be interested in asking whether there are plans for formal negotiations between members of delegations appointed by the East-based House of Representatives and the Tripoli-based High State Council, as well as other relevant stakeholders.

Council members might be interested in asking Salamé about the current discussions on elections. In the joint declaration by Serraj and Haftar, they committed to a ceasefire and to the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections as soon as possible. However, in his 22 August report, the Secretary-General warned that only a broad political agreement among political factions, competing state institutions, and security and societal actors “can create the enabling environment for elections, which cannot be an alternative to a political process”.

Between February and July, the Department of Political Affairs conducted a strategic assessment of the UN’s role in Libya, which is briefly summarised in the Secretary-General’s report. Council members will most likely ask for more details on the recommendations regarding the mandate and structure of UNSMIL, as well as the planning for the mission’s return to Libya.

Skoog is expected to brief Council members on the impact of resolution 2362, which was adopted on 29 June and added refined petroleum products to the commodities ban on illicit exports from Libya. As a result of this change, the Committee has designated two vessels for transporting gasoil illicitly exported from Libya. The listings were made on 21 July and 2 August, and the vessels’ flag states were Tanzania and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Skoog is also expected to brief Council members on the programme of work that was presented this month to the Committee by the Panel of Experts.