What's In Blue

Posted Thu 17 Jan 2019

Meeting on UNSMIL and Libya Sanctions

Tomorrow (18 January), the Security Council is scheduled to meet for a briefing and consultations on Libya. The Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Ghassan Salamé and Jürgen Schulz, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany, which chairs the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee, are expected to brief. The UK, the lead on Libya, may propose press elements at the end of the meeting.

Initially, Salamé had planned to brief in person. Due to heavy clashes between militias in Tripoli this week, it seems that Salamé had expressed his preference for a briefing via video teleconference in order to be able to stay in Tripoli. The clashes reportedly resulted in at least five people dead and 20 wounded. This constitutes the heaviest violation of a ceasefire that was brokered with the support of UNSMIL last year following clashes involving the same militias (the Kaniyat/7th Brigade and a group of militias calling themselves the Tripoli Protection Force). The ceasefire had resulted in the establishment of the Committee on Security Arrangements in Tripoli, with the expressed goal of establishing professional Libyan security forces. At the moment, the internationally-recognised Libyan “Government of National Accord” (GNA) based in Tripoli relies on militias for its security. Council members may be interested in hearing the latest updates on the situation on the ground and how it will influence UNSMIL’s engagement with all actors in implementing the security arrangements.

Connected to the lack of a security monopoly by the Libyan state, the self-styled “Libyan National Army” (LNA), led by General Khalifa Haftar, is reportedly trying to expand influence over the south of the country, where the Libyan state exercises little control. El Sharara, Libya’s biggest oil field, is located in the southwest of Libya and has been closed since December 2018 following protests by oil field guards and parts of the local population over revenue allocation, a recurring issue for the National Oil Corporation. Due to other oil fields being closed for similar reasons as well as militias trying to gain control over such infrastructure, oil production levels fluctuate. At the moment, output reportedly stands around 953,000 barrels per day. The existence of rival institutions, including two Central Banks and two “National Oil Corporations” continues to deepen geographic divisions between the eastern and western parts of the country, perpetuating frustration by the population that oil revenue does not appear to translate into the provision of even basic services in large parts of Libya. With this in mind, Council members may want to hear Salamé’s views on UNSMIL’s engagement with key actors in addressing this issue.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) remains operational in Libya and conducted three high-profile attacks in 2018: the 2 May attack on the High National Election Commission (HNEC), the 10 September attack against the headquarters of the internationally recognised National Oil Corporation and the 26 December attack on the Foreign Ministry.

According to the final report of the Panel of Experts of the 1591 Sudan sanctions committee (S/2019/34), armed groups from Darfur still have a significant presence in the south of Libya and are also involved in trafficking activities. The report further states that the LNA relies upon Darfurian armed groups in order to control territory and oil infrastructure. During clashes around the Libyan oil crescent, Darfurian armed groups also aligned with anti-LNA forces.

On the political situation, the latest report of the Secretary-General (S/2019/19) states that the National Conference as the final event of the national conference process will be held “in the first weeks of 2019”. It seems that Salamé hopes that the conference will lead to legislation for elections to be adopted and for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held later this year. Members may be interested in hearing about the preparations for the conference.

The human rights and humanitarian situation of refugees and migrants remains dire. According to the latest Secretary-General’s report, violations including deprivation of liberty, arbitrary detention in official and unofficial detention facilities, torture (including sexual violence), abduction for ransom, extortion, forced labour and unlawful killings are being perpetrated by all sides (state officials, armed groups, smugglers, traffickers and criminal gangs). The number of detained migrants and refugees, currently estimated at 5,300 with 3,700 needing international protection, continues to increase due to interceptions at sea and the closure of sea migration routes.

Schulz is expected to deliver a statement on the work of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee covering the period between September 2018 to January 2019.  As a general practice, the statement delivered by the chair is agreed upon by all members of the committee. There was no briefing by the chair in November as there was no agreement at the time on the language for the November visit to Libya by the then chair, Ambassador Olof Skoog (Sweden). Later in the year, the Committee was able to agree on language related to the visit in its annual report (S/2018/1176). The report states “While the approved terms of reference had indicated Tripoli and Beida as the two destinations to be visited, the Committee only visited Tripoli in November, owing to the closure of Beida Airport. The Chair intends to visit all areas agreed in the terms of reference as soon as possible subject to logistical and security arrangements.”

Other aspects of the Committee’s work expected to be covered by Schulz are the adoption of two implementation assistance notices for UN member states to support them in their implementation of the asset freeze. He may also refer to the new panel of experts which was approved on 27 December 2018.

Members may focus their interventions on expressions of support for Salamé and the way forward regarding the National Conference and legislative and presidential elections. Russia is expected to repeat its criticism of the 2011 NATO-led intervention. Some members may emphasise the need for state control over the territory and the containment of the influence of armed groups, others may focus on the importance of the interlinkages between the security, political and human rights situation for long-term stabilisation of the country.

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