Libya: Briefing and Consultations
Tomorrow morning (16 December), the Security Council will convene for an open briefing, followed by closed consultations, on Libya. Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Abdoulaye Bathily is the anticipated briefer. A draft press statement proposed by the UK (the penholder on Libya) is apparently under silence until tomorrow at 9 am EST.
This month will mark one year since the postponement of national elections planned for 24 December 2021 and seven years since the signing of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). The leadership stand-off continues between incumbent Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah, elected in February 2021 to head the interim Government of National Unity (GNU), and former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha, who was elected interim prime minister by the House of Representatives (the Libyan legislature based in Tobruk) on 10 February. The protracted political stalemate continues to contribute to political, economic and security instability.
At tomorrow’s briefing, Bathily is expected to highlight key aspects of the Secretary-General’s latest UNSMIL report, dated 9 December. The report covers political, security and economic developments and provides an overview of the human rights and humanitarian situation as well as the activities of UNSMIL since his 19 August report. (Resolution 2656 of 28 October, which most recently renewed UNSMIL’s mandate, reverted to requesting the Secretary-General to report on the mission’s activities every 60 days, instead of every 30 days.)
Bathily may underline, as noted in the Secretary-General’s report, that only minimal progress was made during the reporting period towards agreeing on a pathway to elections, despite the resumption of talks between Speaker of the House of Representatives Aguila Saleh and President of the High State Council Khaled Mishri, who met in Rabat on 21 October. A meeting between Saleh and Mishri due to be held under UN auspices in the north-western city of Zintan on 4 December was cancelled “due to logistical reasons”, the report notes. The meeting had been expected to “set in motion a process towards the holding of elections, including the finalization of the constitutional basis”.
On the security track, UNSMIL continued to support the work of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission, including to facilitate implementation of the 2020 ceasefire agreement. The Secretary-General’s report says that the agreement continues to hold, although the security situation remained tense throughout the country during the reporting period. Bathily may note that UNSMIL also continued to support the establishment of an effective Libyan Ceasefire Monitoring Mechanism. In this regard, he may report that eight UN ceasefire monitors arrived in Tripoli between 18 August and 26 September and that the chief and deputy head of the UNSMIL Ceasefire Monitoring Component have also deployed, as noted in the report. The Security Working Group for Libya, co-chaired by France, Italy, Türkiye, the UK, the AU, and the UN, met in Tunis on 8 December.
On the economic track, as noted in the report, efforts to implement reform and reunification measures for the Central Bank of Libya, recommended by the UN-facilitated international audit, remained stalled since May due to ongoing divisions within the Central Bank.
The humanitarian and human rights situations remain alarming, as violations against migrants and refugees continue with impunity, including arbitrary detention “in inhumane and degrading conditions in both official and unofficial centres managed by state and non-state actors”, the report says. As at 27 November, 4,001 migrants were being held in government-operated detention centres, it says.
At tomorrow’s briefing, Bathily is expected to outline similar priorities to those he presented during his last briefing to the Council, which took place on 15 November at Russia’s request. At that briefing, he emphasised the need to hold elections as soon as possible and urged the Council “to send an unequivocal message to obstructionists that their actions will not remain without consequences”. He informed members that “in the next weeks and months, UNSMIL will endeavour to facilitate a conversation between the key institutional players in Libya as a step towards overcoming their differences and moving forward towards the organisation of free and fair elections”. He also underlined the need for accompanying support and pressure from the international community, particularly the Security Council. (For more information, see our 14 November What’s in Blue story.) At tomorrow’s meeting, Bathily may also describe some of the exchanges with stakeholders that he has had since his last briefing to the Council, including during his travels to Egypt, Qatar, Türkiye, and the United Arab Emirates from 14 November to 1 December.
In their statements tomorrow, members are expected to reiterate strong support for Bathily. They are likely to stress the urgent need for a Libyan-led inclusive political process and the holding of elections, which have been delayed for close to a year. Members may also highlight the precarious security situation, including that the protracted political stalemate continues to generate security threats. In this regard, they might call for progress not only on the political track, but also on the security and economic tracks. Some members may also seek to highlight the deteriorating living conditions across the country and the humanitarian and human rights conditions, including the situation of migrants and refugees. Members may also refer to the situation of women and girls, including survivors of gender-based and conflict-related violence. In this context, Reem Alsalem, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences, is currently visiting Libya from 14 to 19 December, at the invitation of the GNU.