Libya’s Road to Democracy Faces Political, Security Challenges Arising from Decades of Authoritarian, Dysfunctional Rule, Council Told

18 June 2013

Libya’s Road to Democracy Faces Political, Security Challenges Arising from Decades of Authoritarian, Dysfunctional Rule, Council Told

18 June 2013
Security Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6981st Meeting (AM)

Libya’s Road to Democracy Faces Political, Security Challenges Arising


From Decades of Authoritarian, Dysfunctional Rule, Council Told

The Libyan people would, for the foreseeable future, continue to endure the heavy legacy bequeathed to them over decades of brutal rule, the Security Council was told today as it heard from the top United Nations official in that country.

“The political and security challenges that now face the country may well be the legacy of decades of authoritarian rule, dysfunctional State institutions and confusion around political norms,” said Tarek Mitri,Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), in his briefing to the Council.

Indeed, he said, the 2011 regime change and subsequent elections to the General National Congress had led many to assume that the road to democracy in Libya was “as simple as it appeared”.  However, it was now clear that the piecemeal approach to State-building had fallen short of achieving good results, particularly in the security sector where the needs were huge and immediate.

Describing recent challenges in the country, he said that on 8 June, Benghazi had witnessed a tragic event with a considerable loss of life — the greatest in east Libya since the revolution.  Protesters had been calling for the Libya shield brigades, which comprised many revolutionary formations under the Chief of General Staff of the Libyan Army’s operational control, to be dismantled, and for the army and police to be entrusted the role of exclusive security forces.

However, he continued, what had started as a peaceful demonstration outside the barracks of an armed brigade deteriorated into an exchange of fire, leaving many dead and wounded, mostly among the demonstrators.  Following that incident, the General National Congress issued a decision tasking the Government to deal with armed groups that remained outside the control of the State.

The Government, he said, also decided to proceed with the creation of a National Guard into which armed brigades would be integrated.  However, the differences on the status of revolutionary brigades and their relationship with the State remained unresolved.  The security situation in Benghazi then deteriorated again on15 June, and, in what appeared to be retaliation for the events of 8 June, gunmen attacked an army base and the National Security Directorate.

Turning to his last briefing before the Council in March of this year, he said that he had noted a growing polarization on the Libyan political scene, manifesting particularly in the disagreement over a proposed law on political isolation, which had undeniably garnered support over recent months.  Commencing on 28 April, a number of revolutionary groups laid siege to several Government ministries in an attempt to force through the adoption of that law.

Although the law was adopted on 5 May, he pointed out, the siege continued for a few more days with more political demands being voiced.  A growing popular discontent, and a commitment by Prime Minister Ali Zeidan to address some of the numerous requests, helped put an end to a show of force that threatened the stability of the country.

The adoption of the Political Isolation Law would have far-reaching repercussions on the political process and the public administration, he observed.  In the context of Libya’s transition and the legacy of weak State institutions, the law’s implementation risked weakening those bodies further.

He also noted that there had been an unanticipated controversy around the role of the United Nations in Libya following the adoption of Security Council resolution 2095 (2013).  Some voices had cast doubts on the intentions of the international community and had attributed to the United Nations an interventionist design.  The fact that resolution 2095 (2013) was adopted under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter raised increased misunderstanding, suspicion and disquiet.

Among other things, he said, UNSMIL was working towards the forthcoming elections of the 60-member Constitutional Drafting Assembly.  In close cooperation with the re-established High National Election Commission, the Mission had facilitated discussions between a wide range of Libyan decision and opinion makers on issues, such as electoral systems, voter registration and the participation of women.

Eugéne-Richard Gasana ( Rwanda), Chair of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee, then took the floor to brief the Council on the Committee’s work from 15 March to 18 June, including steps it had taken to implement the five recommendations set forth in the Panel of Experts’ 9 March report.

He said that, in line the report’s recommendations, on 20 March, the Committee updated the entry for Abdullah al-Senussi to its List of Individuals and Entities subject to the travel ban and/or asset freeze.  On 1 April, the Committee sent a note verbale to all Member States encouraging them to duly consider the submission of designation proposals to the Committee concerning entities or individuals found to have assisted with the finances of entities or individuals subjected to the asset freeze.

Going on to describe a number of actions taken in response to other recommendations of the report, he said that, on 6 May, reappointed members of the Panel updated the Committee on a visit to Libya, where they had noted a “positive attitude” towards the modified sanctions regime.  The Panel also met with the Chief of Staff of the Libyan army, who confirmed that a focal point for security assistance had been established in the Defence Ministry.  In addition, the Panel reported on a visit to Northern Mali, where it inspected arms and ammunition seized from armed groups in Gao and Adrar des Ifoghas, some of which had clearly originated from Libya.

Also on 6 May, he said that the Committee had noted the reported relocation of two individuals subject to the travel ban — Mohammed Muammar Qadhafi and Aisha Muammar Qadhafi and their family members from Algeria to Oman.  The Committee asked the Panel to investigate the relocation which had not adhered to exemption procedures set forth in resolutions 1970 (2011) and 1973 (2011).  Following the Panel’s correspondence with the Sultanate of Oman, on 5 June, the representative of Algeria confirmed in a letter to the Committee that the relocation had occurred.

Lastly, he said that, during the reporting period, the Committee had, in relation to the arms embargo, approved six exemption requests and received two notifications for which no negative decision was made.  In relation to the asset freeze, it had received five notifications for which no negative decision was made.  In addition, the Committee had received an inspection report from a Member State pursuant to paragraph 13 of resolution 1970 (2011) and paragraph 15 of resolution 1973 (2011) relating to arms embargo measures.

The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 10:36 a.m.

* *** *

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