Back in December of 2015, the UN Security Council voted on and unanimously approved Resolution 2259, an agreement to end the civil war in Libya and find peace. On Tuesday, January 19, Libya formed a new government, created under the diplomatic negotiations and supervision of the United Nations, with members nominated by the Prime Minister, Fayez Sarraj. Senior United Nations officials welcomed the nomination of the Government of National Accord in Libya by the Presidency Council as a significant step forward in the quest to end the country’s political divisions and armed conflict.
Libyan officials nominated 32 members to a new cabinet tasked with bringing an end to the civil war and stopping the expansion of ISIS-dominated territory. “This marks an important step towards the implementation of the Libya Political Agreement and the resolution of the crisis in the country”, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement issued by his spokesperson.
“[Mr. Ban] looks forward to the endorsement of the new Government so that it can begin to address the many challenges facing the country”, said the statement adding that the UN chief commended the Presidency Council and all Libyan leaders who demonstrated their commitment “to place the national interest first” and to engage in dialogue to resolve their differences.
“This is a sterling opportunity for Libyans to come together to build their country”, Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said in a separate statement. “The formation of the Government of National Accord (GNA) is one important leap on the path to peace and stability in Libya, I congratulate the Libyan people. Hard work lies ahead”, he added. The Special Representative also stressed the need to immediately move forward to the next step which is the endorsement of the GNA by the House Representatives. “I call on the members of the [House] and its presidency to uphold the country’s national interest above all other considerations and promptly convene to discuss and endorse the proposed cabinet”, Mr. Kobler said.
UNSMIL was established in 2011 by the UN Security Council at the request of the Libyan authorities following six months of armed conflict to support the country’s new transitional authorities in their post-conflict efforts. There are two pre-existing councils in Libya, one in Tripoli and one in Tobruk. A separate council, the Presidency Council, consisting of nine members, is stationed in Tunisia and is recognized as the parliament of Libya. So far, only seven of these members have approved the appointed of the 32-member parliament, which puts their legitimacy and power into question. The first task of this new parliament would be to have the opposing parties in Tripoli and Tobruk, residing on opposite sides of the country, to end the fighting and come together.
Since Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi was removed from office in 2011, the country has been a conflict between the old government and the rebel regime, all while ISIS has preyed upon its weakened state and economic ruin, and has come in to take over parts of the territory. There has been lots of violence; the civil war has left at least 5,000 people dead and has displaced hundreds of thousands of people. ISIS has been able to move quickly throughout the country, which is worrisome to the Middle East and the Western world.
The United Nations has backed this new parliament, and there are risks involved in that. The worst-case scenario is that the new third-party is rejected by both existing powers and more violence is born out of that conflict. The UN is urging both parties to accept the new parliament and work towards peace. Although the new 32-members may not be fully elected (at least, not yet) they represent the moderate middle of politics in Libya, and the hope is that they will have luck in bringing the country together. Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, stated that it is “crucial that all key political and security actors uphold the interests of their country and its people above all others”.