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Libya: Reauthorisation of Maritime Interdiction and Addition of Names to Sanctions List

There have been several recent developments related to Libya sanctions. On Monday (11 June), the Security Council is expected to reauthorise the sanctions measures contained in resolution 2292, which is aimed at implementing the arms embargo on Libya through inspection of vessels on the high seas. Earlier this week, the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee added six names to the list of targeted individuals for the first time since June 2011.

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

The resolution expected to be adopted on Monday will renew measures designed to implement the arms embargo on Libya. In particular, the draft resolution 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.

According to the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of resolution 2357 (S/2018/451), the only inspection that resulted in the seizure of items prohibited under the arms embargo following last year’s renewal took place on 19 June 2017. This was on the motor vessel El-Mukhtar.

As was done last year, an informal interactive dialogue with Council members was held on 3 June on the activities of EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia in accordance with resolution 2357. The briefers were Enrico Credendino, Commander of EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia, and Pedro Serrano, Deputy Secretary-General of the European External Action Service, who briefed via VTC. Both argued that the authorisation should be renewed, stressing that the conditions under which the arms embargo was established still exist, and that the actions undertaken on the basis of resolution 2292 have had a deterrent effect and have proven successful. Serrano stressed the importance of member states reporting to the UN Secretariat on their implementation of sanctions.. Credendino elaborated on the training of the Libyan coastguards: they were selected by the Government of National Accord and subsequently vetted by the EU and Interpol. Some 500 are expected to complete their training by the end of this year.
During the meeting, members showed broad support for the EU’s work.

Following the informal interactive dialogue, the UK, the penholder on Libya, circulated a draft resolution renewing the authorisation for another year without proposing any changes to the mandate. The draft passed silence without any substantive negotiations and is now in blue.

1970 Libya Sanctions Committee adds individuals to its sanctions list

The six names were proposed by the Netherlands, supported by France, the UK, the US, and non-Council member Germany, for human rights abuses against migrants. They are the first new individuals to be designated for sanctions (travel ban and asset freeze) by the Libya Sanctions Committee, established by resolution 1970 (2011), since June 2011. In June 2015, two names were proposed for listing in the context of undermining the successful completion of Libya’s political transition. The names were put forward by France, Spain, the UK and the US, but silence was broken by China and Russia, effectively blocking the listing.

The sanctions against the individuals went into effect on 7 June under the listing criterion related to human rights abuses, pursuant to paragraph 22(a) of resolution 1970 (2011), paragraph 4(a) of resolution 2174 (2014) and paragraph 11(a) of resolution 2213 (2015). Four of the individuals (including two Libyan nationals and two Eritrean nationals) are leaders of a transnational trafficking network. One of these Libyan nationals also commands a militia involved in brutal treatment of migrants. A fifth is a Libya national who serves as the Commander of the Shuhada al-Nasr brigade and head of the Petrol Refinery Guard of Zawiya’s refinery, a central hub of migrant smuggling operations. A sixth, also a Libyan national, is the Commander of the regional Coast Guard in Zawiya.

The proposed listings were first put under silence procedure at the beginning of May.
At that time, the listings were explicitly supported by Libya and all Council members except Russia. Before the end of the silence procedure, Russia put a “technical hold” on the listings and asked for more information as well as the convening of a formal Committee meeting. It seems that Russia’s concerns were related to its generally cautious attitude towards the imposition of sanctions and their effectiveness. In addition, Russia inquired about potential national criminal proceedings against the targeted individuals and the role of nationals from countries of origin and destination in trafficking activities.

The Committee meeting requested by Russia took place on 25 May, with a representative from the Libyan delegation in New York present for part of the meeting to answer questions. The main argument from the member states that proposed the listings was that criminal networks profiting from migrant abuse threaten the peace, stability and security of Libya. The general belief was that Russia would not block the listings, considering that Libya and the African members of the Council supported them. Russia lifted their hold on 7 June.

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