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UN Support Mission in Libya Mandate Renewal

Today (13 September), the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) for another year until 15 September 2019.

The first draft was circulated by the UK, the penholder on Libya, last Thursday (6 September). One round of expert-level negotiations was held on Friday (7 September); following comments by Council members during that meeting, a second draft was circulated on Monday (10 September). A third draft was put under a short silence on Tuesday (11 September), but after Russia broke silence, a slightly modified version was again put under silence on Tuesday evening until yesterday morning (12 September). The silence was extended until 12pm yesterday at the request of Russia, which again broke it. An amended version was put in blue by the penholder late yesterday afternoon. Although not all of Russia’s suggestions were included in the draft in blue, it seems that bilateral efforts were made to ensure that their concerns would not trigger an abstention.

The draft resolution in blue does not alter the core of UNSMIL’s mandate.

Preambular Section

In the preambular section, several new references to recent political events have been added to the resolution. References to the UN Action Plan and the Libyan Political Agreement were incorporated at the request of the US. New language was further added welcoming the National Conference process launched by Special Representative Ghassan Salamé. Based upon language from the Council’s presidential statement of 6 June, the draft takes note of the call of the Special Representative for elections to be held as soon as possible, provided that conducive conditions are in place.

The new text reiterates the Council’s welcoming the momentum generated by the conference on Libya in Paris. At the request of France, and supported by Côte d’Ivoire, the Special Representative’s call to Libyan leaders to stand by their commitments in Paris is also reiterated. In a statement during the last briefing on UNSMIL on 5 September, France stated that the timetable put forward in the Paris Declaration remained critical, although the US criticised the imposition of false deadlines for the electoral process. At the request of Sweden, an existing paragraph on the full, equal and effective participation of women and on sexual violence was split into two paragraphs to delineate the two issues.

One paragraph highlights the situation faced by migrants, refugees and internally displaced people. It calls on Libyan authorities to take all steps necessary to investigate violations and abuses and to hold those responsible to account. Initially, the draft called on “all parties” to take such steps; however, Russia, supported by Bolivia, had objected to that formulation, arguing that this responsibility falls exclusively upon state authorities. The draft in blue further calls on all parties to respect applicable international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Also, at the request of Sweden, an amendment was included regarding violations and abuses including sexual and gender-based violence, and mistreatment in prisons and detention centres.

Russia apparently opposed a reference to the importance of collaboration with international financial institutions, in particular the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, a position it also voiced during last week’s UNSMIL briefing. As a compromise, the draft in blue refers to “international financial institutions”, without naming them.

The draft emphasises the decision to sanction six human traffickers and migrant smugglers, made in June by the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee. Initially, this decision was “welcome[ed]” in the text, but that did not seem acceptable to Russia.

The same paragraph maintains existing language that welcomes the work of the UN in “coordinating and ensuring the provision of humanitarian assistance for refugees and migrants through the UN Country Team”; at the same time, new text has been added on “ensuring compliance with the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy.”

Russia initially requested the deletion of a paragraph referring to the Council’s option to designate individuals or entities for targeted sanctions. This was retained in the draft in blue, however.

Operative Section

In the operative section, there is new text requesting UNSMIL to assist the Government of National Accord in ensuring the protection of women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence. Apparently, this new language was incorporated at the request of Sweden.

A US amendment was included in the text in blue, requesting the Secretary General to “reassess” detailed objectives for UNMSIL’s mandated tasks, specifically focusing on “the steps required to set the constitutional basis for elections and to advance the political process from its current trajectory.”

New text was incorporated in the resolution that welcomes progress in re-establishing UNSMIL’s presence in Tripoli and the plans to do so in Benghazi as well.

Language in the operative part laying out UNSMIL’s mandate also includes a reference to collaboration with international financial institutions.

Today’s adoption takes place at a time of continuing turmoil in Libya. The security situation remains highly volatile. Recent days have seen heavy clashes between armed groups in Tripoli, resulting in at least 61 people dead and 159 wounded. With the support of UNSMIL, a ceasefire agreement was reached on 4 September. The Council issued a press statement on 6 September, condemning the violence and welcoming the agreement.
A Ceasefire Consolidation Agreement was signed on 9 September. On 10 September, the headquarters of the National Oil Cooperation was attacked, with ISIL later claiming responsibility. The Matiga airport in Tripoli was attacked on 11 September.

Meanwhile, on the political front, the House of Representatives has so far failed to produce electoral legislation, as the 16 September deadline for doing so, outlined in the Paris declaration, approaches.

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