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UN Week – 8/29/2011

August 31, 2011

This blog is written by members of our blogging community and expresses those experts’ views alone.

By:  John and Douglas Carey, Editors

Contents of this issue:

Transitional National Council to seek Libya’s UN seat; $1.5 billion of Libyan assets to be distributed.

Reuters on August 26th quoted the leader of the Libyan TNC, Mahmoud Jibril, as expressing the “hope that next month Libya will be occupying the seat it holds at the United Nations.” Whether he was speaking in Arabic or English, his words as just quoted are precise in terms of Libya’s position at the UN.

As a full-fledged Member State of the United Nations, Libya has no need to apply for membership. That is a significant difference from a new state like South Sudan, which must, under Article 4 of the UN Charter, show that it is a “peace-loving” state which accepts the obligations in the Charter and is “able and willing to carry out these obligations.”

UN Membership is “effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.” That means any one or more of the five permanent members of the Council can veto such a recommendation. This is the point at which any Palestinian entity might be blocked from membership. A two-thirds favorable vote is required in the Assembly.

The problem of the TNC is not Libyan membership in the UN but the TNC’s own credentials. According to the UN web site, “At each session, the General Assembly considers the credentials of all representatives of Member States participating in that session. During such consideration, which routinely takes place first in the nine-member Credentials Committee but can also arise at other times, the issue can be raised whether a particular representative has been accredited by the Government actually in power. This issue is ultimately decided by a majority vote in the Assembly.”

Mahmoud Jibril also said on August 26th that, “When the regime collapses all eyes will turn to the NTC to provide the Libyan people with services they have been deprived of for the last six months, including power and salaries. In order to meet the expectations we need the finances. It is very important that the Libyan people don’t feel deprived of resources.”

Jibril mentioned not only the needs of individuals but also those of the nation. “We have to establish an army, a strong police force to be able to meet the needs of the people and we need capital and we need assets. All our friends in the international community speak of stability and security. We need that too.”

Where will such capital and assets come from? Not, at least in the first instance, from resources formerly controlled by the Qadaffi regime. The day before Jibril made the comments just quoted, US Ambassador Susan Rice released this explanation: “The United States welcomes the decision by the UN Security Council’s Libya Sanctions Committee to release $1.5 billion dollars in Libyan assets to meet the critical humanitarian needs of the Libyan people. Today’s action demonstrates the international community’s solidarity with the brave people of Libya at this historic moment.

“The unprecedented international coalition built upon UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 prevented mass atrocities in eastern Libya, averted large scale killings of unarmed civilians, and avoided a catastrophic humanitarian crisis. Yet this is not the end of Libya’s transition. It is the beginning. The United States will continue to work with our international partners to support the Libyan people as they chart a democratic, prosperous, and secure future for their country”

Of course the devil is in the details, so we turn to a US fact sheet, also issued on August 25th, on “Unfreezing Assets to Meet the Critical Humanitarian Needs of the Libyan People.”

“The UN Security Council’s Libya Sanctions Committee approved a U.S. proposal to unfreeze $1.5 billion of Libyan assets to be used to provide critical humanitarian and other assistance to the Libyan people. The U.S. request to unfreeze Libyan assets is divided into three key portions:

“Transfers to International Humanitarian Organizations (up to $500 million):

“Up to $120 million will be transferred quickly to meet unfulfilled United Nations Appeal requests responding to the needs of the Libyan people (including critical assistance to displaced Libyans). Up to $380 million will be used for the revised UN Appeals for Libya and other humanitarian needs as they are identified by the UN or other international or humanitarian organizations.

“Transfers to suppliers for fuel and other goods for strictly civilian purposes (up to $500 million):

“Up to $500 million will be used to pay for fuel costs for strictly civilian needs (e.g., hospitals, electricity and desalinization) and for other humanitarian purchases.

 “Transfers to the Temporary Financial Mechanism established by the Contact Group to assist the Libyan people (up to $500 million):

“Up to $400 million will be used for providing key social services, including education and health. Up to $100 million will be used to address food and other humanitarian needs.

“The United States crafted this proposal in close coordination with the Transitional National Council, as they assessed the needs of the Libyan people throughout the country. It responds to humanitarian concerns in a diversified way that prioritizes key needs. The United States will work urgently with the Transitional National Council to facilitate the release of these funds within days.


“The proposal also has a number of safeguards, including a restriction that none of the funds are used for military equipment or activities. Funds given to the United Nations will be subject to existing UN safeguards. Payments for fuel costs will be confirmed by both the TNC and the vendor. Similarly, the Temporary Financing Mechanism incorporates several accounting and procedural safeguards: a Steering Board with TNC and international members (and consensus decision making); regular internal audits and external audits to be conducted by an internationally respected independent auditing firm; and an independent financial management agent (Adam Smith International) to administer the TFM account.”

Nothing is to be found in this fact sheet on the financing an army or police force as Jibril desires; in fact, “military equipment or activities” are explicitly excluded. It must be assumed that those Libyan needs are to be financed from oil revenues. Libya is fortunate that, unlike in Iraq, petroleum facilities were not destroyed or badly damaged, so far as has been made known by the media.

That’s all for this August 29th issue of United Nations Week: News and Views. We’ll be back with the next issue. Do share your own views on these or other UN-related matters at

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