The Security Council has begun discussions on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s proposal to set up a United Nations mission to provide support to the new authorities in Libya as they seek to rebuild the North African nation following this year’s conflict.
Opposition forces rose up against the regime of Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi in February as part of a wider pro-democracy movement across North Africa and the Middle East. Mr. Ban has repeatedly stressed the need to respond rapidly to requests from the Libyan transitional authorities for assistance after the regime is ousted and the conflict comes to an end.
In a letter sent to the Council earlier this week, Mr. Ban proposes the establishment of an integrated UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) for an initial period of three months, to be headed by a Special Representative.
“The three-month initial deployment intended to allow for in-country engagement in further defining the needs and wishes of Libya for United Nations support, while delivering urgent advice and assistance,” he writes.
The mission’s mandate would include assisting national efforts to, among other things, restore public security and order and promote the rule of law; undertake inclusive political dialogue, promote national reconciliation, and embark on the constitution-making and electoral processes; extend State authority; and protect human rights and support transitional justice.
The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Post-conflict Planning in Libya, Ian Martin, said he hoped the resolution will be adopted “as soon as possible” so the UN can begin delivering in some of the priority areas of assistance requested by the National Transitional Council (NTC).
“The proposals of the Secretary-General are for a support mission that would be initially mandated for a three-month period that would give us the opportunity both to bring in personnel, to provide some initial advice and assistance in the areas that the Libyans have identified, but at the same time, continue a discussion with them to plan longer-term UN support,” he told reporters in New York after briefing the Council in a closed-door session.
Mr. Martin, who conducted a five-day visit to Libya last week, reported that he saw very little damage to infrastructure in the capital, Tripoli.
The most serious humanitarian challenge – that of restoring the water supply – had been achieved, he said, adding that supplies of fuel and electricity were “improving,” and there was no general breakdown of public order. In addition, schools had just re-opened.
“That should not lead to any underestimation of both the short-term and the longer-term challenges the new authorities are going to face in Libya,” said Mr. Martin.
He noted that the NTC has not yet established full control over the national territory, cited the need to establish an effective police force; and highlighted the major concern, especially of Libya’s neighbours, of the proliferation of weapons.
“And despite the consistent messages of NTC leaders appealing against revenge, there have been very serious violations of human rights, especially of sub-Saharan Africans accused often, I think quite wrongly, of having fought for the Qadhafi regime,” he stated.
“On the human rights front, of course, terrible evidence continues to come to light of deliberate human rights abuses and crimes of the Qadhafi regime, both those that took place over many years and during the fall of Tripoli, when many of their prisoners were massacred,” he continued.
“More mass graves are being discovered, many families have no knowledge of loved ones who disappeared, in some cases many years ago, and in some cases, just during the recent conflict.
“This is going to be a very heavy burden for Libya’s new leaders as they seek to show that there will be accountability within the law for the worst violations, but at the same time promote national reconciliation.”
In a related development, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, is requesting INTERPOL to issue a Red Notice to arrest Mr. Qadhafi, as well as his son, Saif Al-Islam Qadhafi, and the head of the Libya’s intelligence forces, Abdullah Al Sanousi.
In June the ICC, based in the The Hague, issued arrest warrants for the three men for crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the conflict.
An INTERPOL Red Notice seeks the provisional arrest of a wanted person with a view to extradition or surrender to an international court based on an arrest warrant or court decision.