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Security Council to vote on renewing UN Mission in Libya

The Security Council is expected to vote today on renewing the mandate of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), which expires on 31 October.

The draft resolution would renew the mandate of UNSMIL for one year, until 31 October 2024. The draft text maintains UNSMIL’s core mandated tasks, as set out in resolution 2542 of 15 September 2020 and paragraph 16 of resolution 2570 of 16 April 2021.

The UK, the penholder on Libya, circulated an initial draft text on October 17 and convened one round of negotiations on October 19. The penholder then circulated a revised draft and invited comments until October 23. The following day, October 24, a second revised draft was circulated and placed under silence procedure until October 25. Silence was broken by Brazil, China, France, and Russia. The penholder then put a third revised draft under silence procedure until last Thursday October 26. The draft passed silence and was subsequently put in blue.

According to the Security Council Report, which is an independent website that reports on the Council’s agenda, the initial draft text prepared by the UK apparently sought a straightforward extension of UNSMIL’s mandate.

The penholder proposed some updated language to reflect Libya’s current political situation, mainly based on Council members’ press statement of August 23, and the country’s humanitarian needs in the wake of Storm Daniel, which struck Libya’s eastern region on 10 September.

“While it seems that Council members were generally supportive of this approach, certain thematic issues required some discussion during the negotiations,” said the Security Council Report.

“It seems that one topic of discussion during the negotiations was how to describe the country’s political situation and the status of the electoral legislation,” reports the website. “The initial draft text apparently reaffirmed the Council’s commitment to a political process that “builds on progress achieved in the 6+6 negotiations aimed at producing viable electoral laws” and called on stakeholders to “redouble their efforts to finalize a pathway to deliver elections”. It seems that some Council members believed that this formulation did not account sufficiently for the progress represented by the [Libyan House of Representatives’] adoption of the 6+6 committee’s updated electoral legislation.”

These members apparently maintained that calls for a solution to outstanding contentious political issues should more clearly situate such efforts within the framework of that legislation in order to avoid the emergence of new or duplicative initiatives.

Consequently, Brazil proposed compromised language to the text, which expresses support for a political process that builds on the “updated electoral laws agreed by the 6+6 Committee”, takes note of the Libyan House of Representatives’ adoption of the updated legislation, and further notes that “a political settlement on outstanding politically contentious issues” is necessary for the legislation’s implementation.

Members also apparently discussed how to reflect the effects of climate change in the country. It seems that Switzerland argued that this issue was particularly relevant following Storm Daniel and proposed a new preambular paragraph—based on agreed language from the mandates of other UN missions such as the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH)—recognising that natural disasters and other weather events “associated with the adverse effects of climate change…can adversely impact the humanitarian situation in Libya, and may aggravate any existing instability”.

This language was apparently supported by several other Council members, including France, Malta, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the A3 (Gabon, Ghana, and Mozambique). According to the Security Council Report, other members—including Brazil, China, and Russia—opposed this language, arguing that climate change as a thematic issue is not relevant to UNSMIL’s mandate and should be considered in other fora, such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In an apparent compromise, the draft text in blue retains language referencing climate change but links it more narrowly to Libya’s political instability, recognising that “protracted conflict and political division in Libya has made the country more susceptible to the humanitarian impact of…the adverse effects of climate change”.

Additionally, the draft text includes some new language on human rights. Resolution 2656 contains language that “strongly encourages all parties” to “protect and promote human rights in accordance with obligations under international law”. In light of concerns about “continuing attacks on civic space and the rule of law” in Libya, which Bathily raised during his October 16 briefing to the Council, Switzerland apparently proposed new language that calls on all parties to “promote and protect freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association to help enable free, fair, transparent and inclusive elections and national reconciliation”.

After opposition from other Council members, including China, the draft text in blue merges Switzerland’s proposal with previously agreed language, calling on all parties to “protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, in accordance with obligations under international law”.

Finally, the draft text in blue contains a new operative paragraph that expresses concern about the humanitarian situation in Libya, “in particular following the catastrophic flooding in eastern Libya”.

The paragraph calls on international partners to provide humanitarian assistance and on “Libyan authorities and relevant stakeholders to allow and facilitate full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to those in need”. It also echoes UNSMIIL’s call for a “coordinated national platform” to release funds for long-term reconstruction efforts. This paragraph was apparently included in the UK’s initial draft text and did not require substantive discussion during the negotiations.

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