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Security Council to debate lifting Libya sanctions

The British government has introduced a proposal before the U.N. Security Council to lift economic sanctions on Libya’s main oil companies and to permit Libyan banks and financial institutions to use frozen assets to restart the country’s oil industry and banking sector, to fund humanitarian programs, and to pay for fuel and electricity. A confidential ...

FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images
FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images

The British government has introduced a proposal before the U.N. Security Council to lift economic sanctions on Libya’s main oil companies and to permit Libyan banks and financial institutions to use frozen assets to restart the country’s oil industry and banking sector, to fund humanitarian programs, and to pay for fuel and electricity.

A confidential British draft resolution, which is backed by the United States and the council’s other European powers, would end an asset freeze and other financial sanctions imposed on the Libyan National Oil Corporation and Zueitina Oil Company when they were under the control of Muammar al-Qaddafi. It would permit the Central Bank of Libya, the Libyan Foreign Bank, the Libyan Investment Authority, and the Libya Africa Investment Portfolio to release billions of dollars in funds, subject to U.N. approval.

The draft would also establish a new U.N. mission in Libya to help a post-Qaddafi government restore law and order in the country, reboot its economy, aid Libya’s new leaders in forming an interim government, draft a new constitution, and prepare for free and fair elections at some unspecified date. The mission, which would include hundreds of personnel, would be protected by a combination of Libyan security forces and private contractors, according to diplomats.

The draft would place the Security Council squarely behind a new transitional government, saying the U.N. security body “looks forward to the establishment of an interim government of Libya.” But it would also put Libya’s National Transitional Council on notice that it needs to ensure the protection of Libyan human rights, reconcile with supporters of the regime, restore government services, and allocate Libya’s billions of dollars in oil wealth in a transparent and accountable manner.

The British initiative, which is still subject to negotiations in the 15-nation council, would also modify a Security Council arms embargo, allowing for the import of arms, training, and financial assistance “intended solely for security or disarmament assistance to the Libyan authorities.” It would also allow the supply of “small arms, light weapons and related material for the purpose of protecting United Nations, humanitarian and diplomatic personnel,” subject to approval by the U.N. Security Council.

The draft puts off any decision on NATO’s military role, saying that the council will keep the coalition military role, including its enforcement of a no-fly zone, “under continuous review and underlines its readiness, as appropriate and when circumstances permit, to lift those measures.”

Follow me on Twitter @columlynch

Colum Lynch is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @columlynch

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