Libyan arms embargo “totally ineffective”

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A 10-year-long arms embargo on Libya remains “totally ineffective” according to a UN Panel of Experts in its final report to the Security Council of the world body.

The Panel of Experts on Libya set up in terms of UN Security Council resolution 1973 in 2011 said it identified “multiple acts” that threatened the peace, stability or security of the North African country and increased attacks against State institutions and installations during its mandate.

Additionally, civilians, including asylum seekers and migrants, continue to suffer widespread rights violations and abuses.

“Designated terrorist groups remain active in Libya, albeit with diminished activities. Their acts of violence continue to have a disruptive effect on the stability and security of the country”, it said.

The 2011 arms embargo prohibiting Libyans from exporting arms and related material, and obliging UN member states to prevent direct or indirect supply of all weaponry to Libya “remains totally ineffective”, the Panel noted.

“For member states directly supporting the parties to the conflict, violations are extensive, blatant and with complete disregard for the sanctions measures. Their control of the entire supply chain complicates detection, disruption or interdiction. These factors make any implementation of the arms embargo more difficult.”

Additionally, implementation of an assets freeze and travel ban measures for designated individuals is also ineffective, the Panel added.

In its 548-page report, the Panel of Experts outlines, in chronological order, violations of the arms embargo transfer for Government of National Accord (GNA) affiliated forces, and the Haftar affiliated force – centred around the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA) which controls much of the east and south – as well as “unidentified” suppliers and users.

Information presented includes the date of the violation, type of violation, equipment or activity involved and the member state or party responsible.

The Panel also noted some member states and regional organisations “took action in response to non-compliance with the arms embargo by entities based or registered in their territories”. The information is detailed in report annexes.

The Panel of Experts further noted authorities in Libya’s east continued efforts to illegally export crude oil and import aviation fuel, though in lesser quantities.

According to the Panel, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global demand brought illicit exports of refined petroleum products by sea to a temporary halt. Smuggling fuel overland continued, although on a small scale, it added.

The Panel noted the infrastructure of smuggling networks from Zuwarah and Abu Kammash coastal towns in western Libya “remains intact and their readiness to conduct illicit exports is undiminished”.

“A resumption of illicit activities, when global demand for bunker fuel recovers, is to be expected”, it added.

The Panel’s recommendations to the Security Council include consideration of a mandate to designate aircraft and impose measures including flag deregistration, a landing ban and an overflight ban across Libya.



It also recommended the Security Council authorises member states to inspect, on the high seas off Libya, vessels bound to or from the country they have reasonable grounds to believe are illicitly exporting or attempting to export crude oil or refined petroleum products.