News / Africa

UN Chief Proposing Support Mission in Libya

The United Nations secretary-general has asked the Security Council to authorize a political mission to Libya.  In a letter, Ban Ki-moon requested an initial three-month authorization, but said he may ask for an extension after that.  

In the letter, Mr. Ban says the National Transitional Council has requested U.N. and international assistance in the post-conflict period.

He says the mission - which would be political in nature and not one involving U.N. peacekeepers -- would cover such areas as restoring public security and promoting the rule of law; promoting national dialogue and reconciliation; restoring public services; and taking steps to speed an economic recovery.

Mr. Ban’s special adviser for post-conflict planning, Ian Martin, briefed the Security Council Friday following his recent five-day mission to Tripoli and Benghazi.  After the private session, he told reporters that the initial three-month mission would allow for providing some urgent assistance while continuing discussions with the National Transitional Council on what it needs longer term.

“I think it is fair to say that those proposals got a very strong and united welcome around the table of the Security Council this morning, but of course they are now beginning discussion of an actual resolution and I hope that will be adopted as soon as possible, so that we can begin delivering to Libya some of the priority areas of assistance they have requested,” Martin said.

Special adviser Martin said he was struck by how swiftly Libya is transitioning out of conflict.  He noted that there has been little damage to the country’s infrastructure and that shortages of water and electricity are improving.  But he said that did not mean there would not be challenges ahead.

Meanwhile, council diplomats said the British will be in the lead on drafting the new Libyan resolution that would authorize the U.N. mission, as well as work on lifting some of the sanctions imposed in the last months of the government of Moammar Gadhafi.  That could include easing financial restrictions on some entities and loosening the arms embargo so that the new security and police force would be able to have access to weapons.

Diplomats said that the resolution, which is in the early stages of being drafted, could be brought before the full council for a vote by late next week.

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