On 20 December, the UK-based defence and security think tank Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) published an article entitled ‘An Unprecedented Failure? UN Sanctions Against Human Traffickers in Libya’. Authors Cathy Haenlein (RUSI Director of Organised Crime and Policing) and Amanda Kadlec (Independent Researcher who previously served on the UN Security Council Panel of Experts for Libya) examine how UN sanctions in Libya have impacted human trafficking flows in the region.
Haenlein and Kadlec note that modern UN sanctions in Libya began in 2011 amidst the Qadhafi regime’s violent response to popular uprisings, seeking to prevent crimes against humanity and weapon flows. The authors explain that the UN has not explicitly made human trafficking or people smuggling sanctionable offences, but in June 2018 the UN did impose sanctions on six leaders of human trafficking networks operating in Libya in an ‘unprecedented’ move – ‘this was the only time individual human traffickers and people smugglers had been placed on a UN sanctions list’.
Haenlein and Kadlec argue that contemporaneous concerns of migration from Libya to Europe coupled with outrage over CNN footage of migrants on auction at a Tripoli ‘slave market’ led the UN to take action, though they say the consequences of these sanctions have been limited. The authors explain that the lack of specific UN sanctions targetting human trafficking and people smuggling (the six individuals in 2018 were subject to broader human rights violation sanctions) coupled with Libyan government corruption has limited the international and domestic capacity to enforce sanctions on human traffickers.
The authors conclude that the sanctions had negligible impact on well-connected individuals and yielded little results on the illicit trafficking marketplace. Haenlein and Kadlec argue that sanctions can and should have more impact, but they say it will require ‘international consistency’ – stopping EU cooperation with ‘questionable actors’ in the Libyan government, enforcing the arms embargo without exceptions, and increased political will to implement sanctions from domestic and international actors.
They propose more careful targeting in sanctions, i.e., accounting for the murky distinction between state and non-state actors involved in organised crimes.
Read the full article here.
This is only an excerpt. You can read the full article on Libya Analysis