UN Security Council extends the arms embargo on Libya but remains silent on accountability

June 12, 2019

On 10 June 2019, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted resolution 2473 (2019) to extend measures designed to implement the arms embargo on Libya for another year. The arms embargo was first introduced to restrict the flow of weapons to the country under resolution 1970 (2011). However, despite the long-standing embargo, a continued flow of arms and military equipment has made its way into the country over the years and increasingly more so with the launch of the attack on the capital Tripoli in April 2019.  This demonstrates a deliberate breach of the embargo.    

While welcoming the renewal of the arms embargo, LFJL calls for a stronger stance by the UNSC against states in violation of the embargo, as well as for concrete actions towards accountability to guarantee future enforcement.  

With the renewed conflict in Libya now in its third month and with key parties to the conflict rejecting an unconditional ceasefire, a halt to the supply of arms to the country is an absolute priority as a step towards de-escalation. Over the past three months, we have witnessed the transfer of weapons and military equipment into the country at an alarming rate in what is a clear and blatant disregard of the UNSC arms embargo.  

"The blatant violation of the arms embargo that we are witnessing in Libya cannot be stopped with a simple resolution” says Marwa Mohamed, LFJL’s Head of Advocacy and Outreach. “If the UNSC is truly committed to ending this cycle, states must acknowledge the breach and take concrete actions against those who are in clear violation of the embargo”.  

In the absence of an institutionalised military with clear command and control structures, with trained personnel, and a state that can ensure responsibility for misconduct, no UN member state should sell or transfer weapons to Libya. Weapons have made their way into the hands of militias and armed groups that do not adhere to any chain of command structure under any state institution and who are responsible for violations under international humanitarian law (IHL).  

In the current conflict, civilians and civilian objects have been targeted, including attacks on densely populated urban areas, a violation of IHL.  According to the World Health Organisation, as of 10 June 2019, 653 have lost their lives in the conflict, including 41 civilians, as well as  3,547 wounded, including 126 civilians.  

LFJL calls on the UNSC to take action against those states found in breach of the arms embargo by holding them accountable for their actions.  

LFJL further calls on the UN Human Rights Council to establish an independent investigative body to carry out investigations into the crimes committed in Libya, including crimes under IHL, with the aim of identifying the perpetrators and bringing them to justice.   

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