'Give UN big role' in Libya rebuilding

Updated: 2011-09-19 09:03

By Wang Yan and Zheng Yangpeng (China Daily)

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BEIJING - China will be among those calling for the United Nations to be given a prominent role in Libya's post-war reconstruction at the upcoming New York "Friends of Libya" conference, analysts said.

The conference is scheduled to open at the UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday. China is expected to participate in the upcoming meeting.

Given that the UN recognized the National Transitional Council (NTC) as the legitimate holder of Libya's UN seat on Friday, the New York conference may involve more specific matters than the Paris gathering, said Yin Gang, an expert on Middle East studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

And most importantly, it may also discuss proposals on a leading role for the UN in the country's reconstruction process.  

UN lead

Along with Friday's resolution to ease the assets freeze and arms embargo on Libya, the UN Security Council decided to set up a UN mission to help restore public security and initiate economic recovery in Libya.

The key issue in discussions on the future of Libya is whether problems in the country can be dealt with through multilateral cooperation, or by the unilateral operation of a few Western powers, said Wang Lian, a professor of international politics at Peking University.

Following China's recognition of the NTC as Libya's governing authority, Foreign Ministry spokeswomen Jiang Yu told a media briefing that the reconstruction of Libya should be carried out under the framework of the UN.

"This is not just China's opinion, but an international consensus," she said.

Yin from the CASS added: "China's call to bring Libya's reconstruction process under the UN framework is valid and justified.

"Since the military intervention in Libya by Western countries was launched in the name of the United Nations, the post-war reconstruction should not be carried out without the UN's role."

"A leading role by the UN will give a bigger say to many countries which opposed the military intervention," said Wang, adding that for example, South Africa and some other African countries have yet to recognize the NTC as Libya's governing authority, as they have been calling for a more inclusive government to be established in the country.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which launched the military operation to aid the rebels, has expressed its willingness to give way to other international organizations.

In an interview with Xinhua News Agency on Friday, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he did not "foresee a leading NATO role" in post-war Libya, adding that NATO was looking for other international organizations, such as the UN, the European Union or the Arab League, to take center stage in efforts to assist Libya's new government with the nation's reconstruction.

China's role

Economic issues, such as sources of funding and reconstruction partners, will be discussed at the meeting, said Yin.

But some countries have already been vying for a bigger share of post-war Libya's economic interests.

After meeting British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy during their visit to Libya last week, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the country's interim leader, said its key allies could expect preferential treatment in return for their help in ending Muammar Gadhafi's 42-year rule.

"We appreciate these efforts, and they will have priority within a framework of transparency," he said.

"It shouldn't be surprising that France and Britain get preferential treatment," said Ye Hailin, a researcher of international relations at the CASS, emphasizing it was not only because France and Britain are major backers of the NTC, but also because of the situation in Gadhafi's Libya.

"In terms of access to oil, China was not a big player and will not be a big player," he said.

Ye's opinion was shared by Yin, who said the reallocation of the oil and gas resources in Libya was not an issue, since the rights to explore most resources in the country had already been given to European countries and the United States during the Gadhafi era, and Western countries will strive to maintain their shares of resources.

According to Yin, though China is unlikely to have a big stake in Libya's oil and natural gas projects, its projects gained before the civil war, mostly involving civil engineering, roads, oil pipelines, and communications, will be guaranteed, and will now prove even more important for the war-torn country.

"The infrastructure and the improvement of people's livelihoods need workers and funding from China," said Yin.

Last Friday, China pledged to play an active role in Libya's post-war reconstruction, and said it hoped the contracts signed between China and Libya will still be honored in the future.

The NTC has reiterated that it will implement any international deals and contracts that were previously agreed to by Libya.

The reconstruction of Libya should be considered separately from other issues, namely the oil contracts, according to Ye.

"We should do what we can do. It is sufficient for China to maintain general participation in the country," said Ye.

Xinhua contributed to this story.