Tunisia pushes for UN monitors to observe Libya’s fragile truce

The Address | Benghazi – Libya

TUNIS –  The current president of the UN Security Council, called Monday for a resolution sending international monitors to support Libya’s brittle ceasefire to be adopted as soon as possible.

“We hope that it will be adopted as soon as possible” because “there is a momentum, yet it’s a little bit fragile,” said Tunisian ambassador to the UN Tarek El Adab, referring to the negotiations between Libyan parties and the UN mission there.

Tunisia, a non-permanent member of the Security Council, assumed its rotating presidency in early January. Its work program does not at this stage include a meeting on Libya until the end of the month.

In response to Tunisia’s call, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recommended that international monitors be deployed to Libya under a UN umbrella and from a base in the strategic city of Sirte, the gateway to the country’s major oil fields and export terminals.

The UN chief said in an interim report to the Security Council on proposed ceasefire monitoring arrangements circulated Monday that an advance team should be sent to Libya’s capital Tripoli as a first step to “provide the foundations for a scalable United Nations cease-fire monitoring mechanism based in Sirte.”

Guterres gave few details of the monitoring mechanism but said the Joint Military Commission, with five representatives from each of the rival sides, “has requested unarmed, non-uniformed individual international monitors to be deployed under the auspices of the United Nations.”

They would work alongside joint monitoring teams from the rival Tripoli and eastern governments “for specific monitoring and verification tasks,” he said.

“The Libyan parties have also conveyed their firm position that no deployment of foreign forces of any kind, including United Nations uniformed personnel, should occur on Libyan territory,” Guterres said.

But the commission welcomed offers of potential support to the monitoring mechanism from regional organizations including the African Union, European Union, and Arab League under UN auspices.

According to the military commission’s concept, “the United Nations would be expected to provide a nimble and scalable team of impartial international monitors to carry out monitoring” in the Sirte area, Guterres said.

In the commission’s view, he said, they would “initially provide oversight and report compliance along the coastal road on the removal of military forces and mercenaries, the deployment of the joint police force, the clearance of explosive remnants of war, booby-traps and mines.”

“As soon as conditions permit, they would expand their monitoring work to the Abu Grein-Bin Jawad-Sawknah triangle, and possibly beyond,” Guterres said.

Guterres reiterated the UN’s commitment to assisting and supporting the Joint Military Commission in operationalizing the ceasefire agreement, warning that the current delays risk jeopardizing the timeline.