The Security Council today decided to renew, for a period of one year, its prior authorization allowing Member States to inspect vessels on the high seas off the coast of Libya, given reasonable grounds for suspicion that they are being used for smuggling migrants or human trafficking.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2437 (2018), the 15-member Council condemned all acts of migrant smuggling and human trafficking into, through and from the territory, and off the coast, of Libya, which undermine the country’s stabilization and endanger the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
In that context, the Council decided to renew, for 12 months, a set of authorizations first laid out in operative paragraphs 7, 8, 9 and 10 of resolution 2240 (2015). They allow Member States, acting nationally or through regional organizations, to inspect any vessel off the Libyan coast that they suspect of being used to perpetrate such crimes, provided they make good-faith efforts to obtain the consent of the vessel’s flag State before exercising that authority.
According to resolution 2240 (2015), the authorization renewed today is granted “with a view to saving the threatened lives of migrants or of victims of human trafficking on board such vessels” against a backdrop of “exceptional and specific circumstances” in the fight against human trafficking off the Libyan coast. The Council reaffirmed that the authorizations apply only with respect to migrant smuggling and human trafficking on the high seas off Libya’s coast, and will not affect the rights, obligations or responsibilities of Member States under international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It underscored that the authorizations do not apply to vessels entitled to sovereign immunity under international law.
By further terms of the text adopted today, the Council reiterated the contents of its resolutions 2312 (2016) and 2380 (2017), by which it expressed support for the European Union’s security and defence mission in the Mediterranean, known as “EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia”.
Following the adoption, Antoine Ignace Michon (France) welcomed the Council’s support for the European Union’s important activities. “This text cuts to the chase,” he said. He expressed regret, however, that its language is not more explicit in support of relevant international agreements, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Noting that trafficking in human beings, fed by instability, only exacerbates Libya’s existing challenges, he urged Member States to treat all refugees and migrants with dignity and in full compliance with international human rights law.
Jonathan Guy Allen (United Kingdom) pointed out that today’s resolution sets out exactly the same legal obligations as those first presented in resolutions 2240 (2015), 2312 (2016) and 2380 (2017).
The meeting began at 3:02 p.m. and ended at 3:09 p.m.
The full text of resolution 2437 (2018) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Recalling its resolutions 2240 (2015), 2312 (2016) and 2380 (2017) and its Presidential Statement of 16 December 2015 (S/PRST/2015/25),
“Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Libya,
“Welcoming the Secretary-General’s report of 13 August 2018 (S/2018/807),
“Mindful of its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security under the Charter of the United Nations,
“Reaffirming the necessity to put an end to the ongoing proliferation of, and endangerment of lives by, the smuggling of migrants and trafficking of persons in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya, and, for these specific purposes, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,
“1. Condemns all acts of migrant smuggling and human trafficking into, through and from the Libyan territory and off the coast of Libya, which undermine further the process of stabilization of Libya and endanger the lives of hundreds of thousands of people;
“2. Decides, for a further period of twelve months from the date of adoption of this resolution, to renew the authorisations as set out in paragraphs 7, 8, 9 and 10 of resolution 2240 (2015),reaffirms paragraph 11 thereof and otherwise reiterates its resolutions 2240 (2015), 2312 (2106) and 2380 (2017) and its presidential statement S/PRST/2015/25;
“3. Renews the reporting requests set out in paragraphs 17 and 18 of resolution 2240 (2015) from the date of adoption of this resolution;
“4. Expresses its intention to continue to review the situation and consider, as appropriate, renewing the authority provided in this resolution for additional periods;
“5. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”