8 November 2012

As Libya Presses Ahead with Political Transformation, Challenges for Newly-Formed Government will be Significant but Not Insurmountable, Security Council Told

8 November 2012
Security Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6857th Meeting (AM)

As Libya Presses Ahead with Political Transformation, Challenges for Newly-Formed

Government will be Significant but Not Insurmountable, Security Council Told

In Briefing, Special Representative Says Building Democratic State

Requires Patience Bolstered by Coherent, Determined Government Efforts

As Libyans celebrated the first anniversary of national liberation, the formation of a new Government last week boded well for their political transformation, while violent flare-ups were reminders of challenges in the areas of security, reconciliation and the rule of law, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General told the Security Council this morning.

“The problems faced should not be underestimated but are not insurmountable,” Tarek Mitri, who is also the head of United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), said in a briefing via video-link from Tripoli, following which Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral of Portugal, head of the Libya sanctions committee, also addressed the Council.

“Building a democratic State is a cumulative process that needs time and patience, but it necessitates, first and foremost, a sustained, coherent and determined effort by the Government,” Mr. Mitri said, adding that the people of Libya were demanding more of the elected authorities and that UNSMIL would continue to work closely with the new Government, as it had in the past year, along with civil society and the international community, to ensure that no effort was spared in the endeavour to build a democratic State.

Updating the Council on the situation on the ground since the last comprehensive briefing on 12 September and the briefing on the violence in Bani Walid given two weeks ago, he said that the formation of the new Government was completed on 31 October, after the election of Ali Zeidan as Prime Minister, following the rejection of the Cabinet of previous Prime-Minister-elect Mustafa Abushagur, who subsequently stepped down. 

In forming his Cabinet, he said Mr. Zeidan sought inclusive political and regional participation and pledged that any Ministers who did not meet standards of integrity and patriotism would be replaced.  As a result, a large majority of members of the General National Congress voted for the cabinet.  While it was generally well-received across Libya, a small number of protestors disrupted the Congress proceedings, delaying the vote until the following day. 

On 1 November, Mr. Mitri issued a statement welcoming the new Government.  Subsequently, Mr. Zeidan met with him, stressing that Libya wanted its relations with the international community to be based on mutual respect and cooperation to promote peace and security.  He indicated that Libya’s priorities would be internal affairs, particularly as related to security, but also reconstruction and economic development.  He welcomed the proposals for technical assistance that UNSMIL had submitted for his consideration.

In that context, he said, workshops had been organized for the Congress to share best practices of parliamentary systems across the globe, and the second phase of a three-month programme for trainers of civil society representatives, on civic education, had been launched.  In addition, UNSMIL had offered technical support to the Constitutional Committee of the Congress.  He continued to urge the Congress to consult widely and move swiftly on the Constitution-drafting process.

Turning to security, he said that on 24 October, one day after the previous briefing to the Council, authorities had declared that the Libyan army had taken control of the Bani Walid, although reports of looting and burning of some homes continued for several days.  Mr. Mitri met with Government officials, Bani Walid delegations and members of political forces, stressing the need for protection of civilians and reduced tensions. 

UNSMIL and the country team conducted assessments of the needs of the tens of thousands of persons displaced from Bani Walid, as well as of the situation inside the city, to which families were allowed to return starting 31 October.  UNSMIL also dispatched a team to assist the regular army in undertaking munitions clearance and was continuing to follow up on the worrying situation of those detained following the cessation of fighting.  The Congress, he added, had established a fact-finding committee on human rights violations during the crisis, as well as a management unit on all Government activities related to Bani Walid.

Continuing, he said that there had also been bouts of fighting involving armed brigades in Southern Libya and in Tripoli, while Benghazi and the east continued to suffer from a number of serious security incidents.  Assassination attempts on security officials, a religious leader and a brigade commander occurred, along with car bombs targeting two Benghazi police stations.  Widespread denunciation of the 11 September attack on the United States office also took place, the largest being that of 21 September, in which some 30,000 demonstrators called for a Government crackdown on brigades and other actions.  On 22 September, authorities announced a series of measures to bring brigades under control. 

The events of Bani Walid, Tripoli and Benghazi, he said, however, underscored the need for rapid and effective action in security sector reform, including the implementation of a national security coordination mechanism, demobilization of former revolutionaries and munitions control, so that the monopoly of the use of legitimate force was held solely by the State, under civilian oversight.  UNSMIL had been active in advising and assisting the authorities in that area, notably on the drafting of a background document for a defence white paper.  UNSMIL also continued to support police reform and had established coordination meetings on all defence assistance from the international community.

In the critical area of judicial reform, he said UNSMIL continued to work on the issue of conflict-related detentions, urging the acceleration of screenings of detainees and the investigations into allegations of mistreatment and torture.  The Mission stood ready to assist implementation of a comprehensive screening process initiated by national and local authorities in Misrata, where many were still held outside State authority.  Little progress, however, had been made in transferring detention facilities from brigades to the Ministry of Justice. 

On the prosecution of former regime figures and others who committed serious human rights violations, the Mission, he said, continued to engage with a variety of interlocutors on developing an overall strategy, urging the Government to pursue a comprehensive transitional justice programme that included “a dynamic truth-seeking process”.

Finally, he said, UNSMIL and the Government had last month completed the Strategic Framework 2013-2014, which outlines a coherent United Nations Country Team response in the transitional period and a foundation to adapt to evolving Libyan needs.  That would be followed up with the new Cabinet.

Mr. Moraes Cabral then presented the Chairman’s seventh report of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya.   Updating the Council on the Committee’s work for the period from 11 May to 8 November 2012, during which members met twice, he said informal consultations covered the Panel of Experts’ interim report and the issue of arms proliferation.

The Panel of Experts’ interim report focused on the implementation of the travel ban, which focused on two listed individuals, identifying hidden assets of listed individuals and entities, and the arms embargo, he said.  On the embargo, the Panel had gathered evidence that showed violations included materiel that had been transferred out of Libya.  The Panel continued to investigate a number of cases of military materiel that entered Libya during the revolution and had submitted an inspection report on a recent case of attempted ammunition export to Libya.  The nine Panel recommendations were supported by the Committee, which had taken action where necessary and had issued two implementation assistance notices on outlining what information should be included in arms embargo and on the reporting of violations.

He said that the Committee’s second informal consultations discussed, among other related topics, a particular media-reported case of alleged violation of the arms embargo involving the vessel Intisaar.  Follow-up on that matter entailed the Committee’s dispatch of two letters of inquiry, to the State of origin and to the State where the ship had docked, he said.  Following up on another similar case involving the ship Letfallah II, the Committee had sent five letters to concerned States and had received responses from four of those States.

During the reporting period, among the requests received, the Committee had one request for a travel ban waiver, which was still under consideration, he said.  It had approved three exemption requests concerning the assets freeze and eight requests for an exception relating to the arms embargo.  It had also responded to five requests for guidance, one of which involved a listed entity.  On 7 November, upon the Panel’s request for assistance, the Committee had dispatched reminders to five States from whom a response had long been pending.  Reminders to four additional States were under consideration.

The meeting began at 10:22 a.m. and ended at 10:47 a.m., at which time Council members held closed consultations on Libya in the Council Chamber.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.