The United Nations Security Council on Friday adopted a resolution renewing the European Union’s permission to inspect vessels off the Libyan coast suspected of violating the arms embargo on the troubled North African nation.
The vote on the resolution sponsored by France and Malta was 14-0, with Russia abstaining, just like last year. He said the EU operation was ineffective in stopping the flow of illegal weapons to Libya.
The brief resolution extends the authorization for inspections by one year and reaffirms the “determination of the Security Council that terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, constitutes one of the most serious threats to peace and security”. The authorization to monitor the UN arms embargo can be extended to other countries and regional organizations.
Oil-rich Libya descended into turmoil after a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled dictator Moammar Gaddafi, who was subsequently killed. It then split between rival governments: one in the east, backed by military commander Khalifa Hifter, and a United Nations-backed administration in the capital, Tripoli. Each side is supported by different militias and foreign powers.
In April 2019, Hifter and his forces, backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, launched an offensive to try to capture Tripoli. His campaign collapsed after Turkey stepped up its military support for the UN-backed government. An October 2020 ceasefire led to an agreement on a transitional government and elections aimed at unifying the country that were scheduled for December 2021. But they have been canceled and the country now has rival governments with two Libyans saying they be prime minister.
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The arms embargo monitoring effort has been led since March 2020 by a European Union mission called Operation Irini, the Greek word for “peace”. The EU said at the outset that it would have “the implementation of the United Nations arms embargo through the use of air, satellite and sea as its main task”.
In its last report at the end of March, Operation Irini said that since its launch it has boarded and searched 25 suspicious vessels and seized cargo believed to violate the arms embargo on three occasions. He said Turkish-flagged vessels denied Irini consent to board and inspect suspicious vessels on 10 occasions.
Operation Irini also investigated 8,958 merchant vessels by seeking information via radio calls and visited 447 vessels with the consent of their masters, and further investigated 1,146 suspicious flights, 25 airports and 16 ports. In March, Irini said, it investigated 311 merchant vessels via radio calls and made 13 visits to the vessels.
Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations Anna Evstigneeva told the council after the vote that the EU’s maritime military operation had not helped stabilize the situation on the ground in Libya, which “continues to be awash with weapons”. And you said that the few Irini interceptions claimed to have been successful “caused many doubts, above all due to the hasty conclusions on the military nature of the goods that were inspected”.
Evstigneeva said that “Irini’s not very successful experience” reiterates the need for multilateral efforts to find multilateral solutions to “acute situations” in Libya and in the entire Mediterranean.