UN votes to deploy cease-fire monitors in Libya
UNITED NATIONS / NEW YORK— The UN Security Council has authorised international monitors to watch over a nearly six-month-old cease-fire agreement in Libya as the country heads toward December elections after a decade of fighting and upheaval.
In a vote announced Friday, the council unanimously approved Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ recent proposal for up to 60 monitors to join an existing political mission in Libya.
“The monitors would be deployed to Sirte once all the requirements for a permanent United Nations presence have been met, including security, logistical, medical and operational aspects,” Guterres wrote to the council on April 7.
“In the meantime, forward presence would be established in Tripoli, as soon as conditions permit,” he said.
A new Libyan unity government was sworn in on March 15.
In the resolution adopted on Friday, the Security Council stressed the “full, equal and meaningful participation of women and the inclusion of youth” in the elections.
The measure also urges all foreign forces and mercenaries to get out of the country, as was supposed to happen months ago.
“We now expect all UN members to act on that, helping Libya to regain its sovereignty and work towards lasting peace and stability,” Britain’s minister for the Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly, said in a statement from London.
He heralded the resolution as sending “a clear signal of support” for Libya’s transitional government, which took power last month and is expected to lead the country to the elections, planned Dec. 24.
Voting was conducted by email, due to the coronavirus pandemic; the results were announced at a brief virtual meeting.
Libya has been wracked by chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime ruler Muammar Gadhafi in 2011 and split the oil-rich North African country between a Tripoli-based government and rival authorities based in the country’s east.
Each side was backed by armed groups and foreign governments. The UN estimated in December there were at least 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries in Libya, including Syrians, Russians, Sudanese and Chadians.
The cease-fire agreement, reached in October, called for the foreign fighters to leave within three months.
The cease-fire deal has dramatically reduced civilian casualties, but the UN has continued to document killings, forced disappearances, sexual violence, arbitrary arrests, hate crimes and attacks against activists and human rights defenders in Libya, UN special envoy Jan Kubis told the council last month.
The Security Council resolution also demands all countries fully comply with a decade-long UN arms embargo on Libya. A recently released report by UN said the embargo has been “totally ineffective.”