UN renews European Union’s authority to inspect ships suspected of violating arms embargo on Libya

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The UN Security Council on Friday adopted a resolution renewing the European Union’s authorization to inspect vessels off the coast of Libya suspected of violating the arms embargo against the struggling North African nation.

The vote on the resolution sponsored by France and Malta was 14-0, with Russia abstaining, just like last year. He claimed that the EU operation had failed to stop the flow of illegal arms to Libya.

The brief resolution extends the authorization for inspections by one year and reaffirms the “Security Council’s determination that terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, constitutes one of the most serious threats to peace and to security”. Authorization to monitor the UN arms embargo can be extended to other countries and regional organizations.

Oil-rich Libya plunged into turmoil after a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who was later killed. It was then split between rival governments – one in the east, backed by military commander Khalifa Hifter, and a UN-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 in an attempt 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 which were scheduled for December 2021. But these were called off and the country now has rival governments with two Libyans claiming to be Prime Minister.

The arms embargo monitoring effort has been carried out since March 2020 by a European Union mission called Operation Irini, the Greek word for “peace”. The EU said at the start that its “primary task would be the implementation of the UN arms embargo through the use of air, satellite and maritime means”.

In its latest report at the end of March, Operation Irini said that since its launch it had boarded and inspected 25 suspicious vessels and seized cargo deemed to violate the arms embargo on three occasions. He said Turkish-flagged vessels had denied Irini consent to board and inspect suspicious vessels on 10 occasions.

Operation Irini also investigated 8,958 merchant ships by seeking information in radio calls and visited 447 ships with the consent of their captains, and it also investigated 1,146 suspicious flights, 25 airports and 16 ports. In March, Irini said, he surveyed 311 merchant ships via radio calls and conducted 13 ship visits.

Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Anna Evstigneeva, told the Council after the vote that the EU military maritime operation had not helped stabilize the situation on the ground in Libya which “continues to deteriorate. ‘to be inundated with arms’. And she said Irini’s few allegedly successful interceptions “caused many doubts mainly due to hasty conclusions regarding the military nature of the goods that were inspected”.

Evstigneeva said Irini’s “not-quite-successful experience” reaffirms the need for multilateral efforts to find multilateral solutions to “acute situations” in Libya and across the Mediterranean.

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