Guterres sees role for UN monitors in Libya truce

In October the two sides signed a truce, setting in motion a UN-led process that saw a new transitional government sworn in two weeks ago, ahead of planned elections this December.
Thursday 01/04/2021
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. File photo (UN)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. File photo (UN)

UNITED NATIONS, New York - UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is recommending the UN provides monitors to work alongside Libyans in overseeing the fragile ceasefire that has followed the swearing in of the country’s new Government of National Unity.

In a report released Wednesday, Guterres said the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) could provide a “monitoring component” to work alongside a ceasefire monitoring mechanism run by Libyans.

Since the overthrow of Muammar Ghadafi’s regime in the NATO-backed 2011 revolt, Libya has been wracked by division and bloodshed.

An array of armed groups arose to fill the vacuum and many coalesced around western governments in Tripoli or around eastern military strongman Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army.

The two camps, each supported by foreign powers, fought for more than a year before Haftar was forced last year to abandon his attempt to seize Tripoli.

In October the two sides signed a truce, setting in motion a UN-led process that saw a new transitional government sworn in two weeks ago, ahead of planned elections this December.

Guterres, in the report presented to the Security Council, did not say how many UN observers would be needed for UNSMIL

“I call upon the Security Council to give UNSMIL a clear but flexible mandate, supported by additional resources, to enable the United Nations to fully support the deployment of UNSMIL monitors to Libya who would eventually operate in and around Sirte and other areas if required,” Guterres said.

“The UNSMIL ceasefire monitoring component would not be integrated under the ceasefire monitoring mechanism. It would instead work in close coordination with the 5+5 Joint Military Commission and the joint subcommittees,” he said. That commission is composed of Libyans.

“The role of UNSMIL monitors would be limited to the monitoring of violations of the ceasefire agreement reported by the national monitors and other local sources,” the secretary general said.

He added: “The task would imply the participation of UNSMIL monitors in ground monitoring missions in the designated area.”

He insisted that the Libyan parties must commit to protecting UN personnel, equipment and facilities.

Guterres did not say how many UN staffers might be made available to the Libyan-directed ceasefire monitoring team. Diplomats said it could be as few as five.