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UN pledges support for Libya's reconstruction

Xinhua | Updated: 2011-09-18 10:38

UNITED NATIONS - The UN Security Council unanimously adopted Friday a resolution on the establishment of a UN support mission for Libya with an initial period of three months and easing some sanctions on the country. While the resolution marks the start of Libya's transition from war to post-conflict reconstruction, analysts here warn that the reconstruction process would be faced with enormous challenges.


According to Friday resolution, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) will be under the leadership of a special representative of the secretary-general. The mandate of UNSMIL is to assist and support Libyan national efforts in restoring public security and order and promoting the rule of law; undertaking inclusive political dialogue, promoting national reconciliation and embarking upon the constitution-making and electoral process; restoring public service; promoting and protecting human rights; taking the immediate steps required to initiate economic recovery as well as coordinating supports that may be requested from other multilateral and bilateral actors.

Compared with UN peacekeeping mission including peacekeeping forces and police, the key element of the UNSMIL lies in its political nature with the focus on helping Libya achieve peace and stability through assisting its authorities to draft constitution and organize elections.

The UNSMIL will include an estimated 200 political advisors, said a diplomatic source.

During his visit to Libya in early September, Ian Martin, UN secretary-general special advisor on post-conflict planning was told by senior members of Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) that they are deeply reluctant to allow foreign troops into Libya and make the country a UN protectorate. They'd rather have  technical assistance from the UN.

In an open letter to the Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon outlined the principles guiding the mission, including Libyan national ownership, rapid responses to needs of the Libyan people, and effective delivery and coordination of international assistance. Ban also emphasized that assistance areas should be identified by the Libyan authorities.


UN's central and leading role in Libya's post-conflict reconstruction has always been recognized by the majority of member states. Friday's resolution reaffirmed that "the UN should lead the effort of the international community in supporting the Libyan-led transition and rebuilding process aimed at establishing a democratic, independent and united Libya".

After Libyan rebels claimed control of the capital, Ban Ki-moon sent immediately his special envoy on Libya Abdel-Elah Al-Khatib and Martin to Doha, capital city of Qatar to meet senior officials of NTC to discuss in what way that UN could help the war-torn country. Based on what he saw in the field trip to Libya, Martin believed that the NTC has shown its determination to stand up to the challenges, and that UN has to make commitment to  responding to NTC's requests. Ban also made his stance clear that the UN stands ready in all the ways that the Libyan people ask.

Also on Friday morning, the 66th General Assemble approved the legitimate UN seat for the NTC. Hours later, the Security Council adopted a resolution, lifting all sanctions against the Libyan National Oil Corporation and Zueitina Oil company and easing sanctions imposed on the Central Bank of Libya, the Libyan Investment Authority and other financial institutions, further clearing up fund shortage obstacle on the road to Libya's reconstruction.

UN envoys from the United States, Britain, France and Germany labeled Friday as a historic and successful day for Libya and vowed to stand with the Libyan people. Indeed, much progress has been made on the issue of Libya. To date, Libyan rebels have seized control over most parts of the country. Leaders from Britain, France and Turkey have paid visit to Libya while the five permanent members of the Security Council have recognized the NTC, which has laid political foundation for the UN support mission as well as the lifting of sanctions. What's more, the NTC hopes to move quickly in the right direction to ensure a smooth transition.


Nonetheless, the NTC faces an arduous task in reconstruction as both short-and long-term challenges are enormous, analysts say.

With Muammar Gaddafi at large, heavy fighting in cities controlled by Gaddafi's army together with NATO's military operation, the hope to achieve peace in every corner of the country remains gloomy. In addition, tribes in Libya often have a say in the country's political arena. If the NTC, whose unity is still questionable, completely excludes pro-Gaddafi power in the post-conflict reconstruction, its ability of achieving national reconciliation and consolidating its regime would be compromised.

The NTC would be tested in almost all aspects of the reconstruction. It needs to deal with an unbalanced economic structure left by Gaddafi, which relies heavily on oil. The NTC, born as a political entity only in February, has no matured political experiences. It therefore places electoral process high on its agenda and asks for UN help in the sphere.

The NTC has reportedly mapped out a timetable for the direct election of a constitutional assembly to be followed by parliamentary and presidential elections. It has also started to draft a new constitution. However, the Council will not begin the process until it takes complete control of the whole country. In addition, due to decades of economic sanctions and blockade imposed by western countries, Libya's infrastructure such as transportation, school, hospital are in very poor shape. To overcome these difficulties and strive for a peaceful, stable and prosperous Libya, it definitely takes painstaking efforts from Libyan authorities.

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