posted on FRI 9 MAR 2012 5:31 PM
Adoption of a New Mandate for the UN Mission in Libya

On 2 March, the UK, lead country on Libya, circulated a draft resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). Council members met on 6 and 8 March to discuss the draft resolution at expert level. The draft resolution is scheduled to be adopted ahead of the high-level debate on Monday (12 March) on challenges and opportunities in the Middle East. It was put under silence last night (8 March) but South Africa broke silence this morning with amendments pertaining to arbitrary detentions and regional cooperation aimed at preventing the destabilisation of Libya. Apparently agreement was reached through bilateral discussions between South Africa and the UK and the resolution has been put in blue.

One of the main issues during the expert level negotiations was the duration of UNSMIL’s mandate. Some Council members believed that a shorter timeframe would be more appropriate as the situation following the June elections for the new Constituent Assembly might require adjustments to UNSMIL’s mandate. This issue appears to have been resolved through giving UNSMIL a 12 month mandate but including a review and adjustment of the mandate within 6 months.

It appears that Council members have generally accepted many of the recommendations for UNSMIL’s mandate suggested by the Secretary-General in his recent report. The modified mandate focuses on support to the Libyan authorities in the areas of democratic transition, rule of law and human rights, restoration of public security, countering illicit proliferation of arms, coordinating international assistance and building government capacity and promoting national reconciliation.

The draft resolution also calls for the promotion and protection of human rights and expresses grave concern at the reports of reprisals, arbitrary detentions, wrongful imprisonment, mistreatment, torture and extrajudicial executions in Libya, calling upon the authorities to take steps to prevent such human rights violations. In addition it urges Libya and neighbouring states to establish regional cooperation to stabilise the situation in Libya, noting that such cooperation would also benefit the stability in the Sahel region.
It seems that some members wanted more explicit language on the need to strengthen measures to prevent the use of children in armed conflict, while others felt that this was perhaps unnecessary as the use of children might have been due to the situation last year rather than a longer term problem. The language finally agreed upon focuses on the demobilisation of any children remaining with revolutionary brigades.

The draft resolution also asks UNSMIL to assist in the integration of ex-combatants into security forces and their demobilisation and reintegration into civilian life. However, the draft does not appear to mention disarmament of the ex-combatants. (This was also an aspect that was not addressed in the Secretary-General’s report.)

It appears that another issue that some members felt strongly about was inclusion of language calling on the Libyan authorities to immediately release all foreign nationals illegally detained in Libya.

A key aspect of the draft resolution relates to the sanctions regime and the Panel of Experts. It seems the draft resolution not only revises the sanctions regime, including the arms embargo and asset freeze, but also extends and modifies the mandate of the Panel of Experts that is due to expire on 17 March. It apparently asks for the mandate of the Panel to be extended for a period of one year but reduces the number of experts to “up to 5” from the current eight, “taking into account the current areas of activity”. It seems that while Council members are in agreement that the Panel of Experts should now focus on remaining issues such as the arms embargo and asset freeze, there are some differences over which other areas should be retained.

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