01 June 2016
The EU's Foreign Affairs Council has approved a one-year extension of the mandate of Operation Sophia, the EU military mission in the Mediterranean that was launched with the aim of hampering migrant smuggling. Following the approval of a UN Security Council Resolution last week, the operation will now also take on two new tasks: training the Libyan coastguard and navy and implementing a UN arms embargo on the high seas off the Libyan coast.
Regarding the new tasks, the Council's press release (pdf) says:
"The legitimate Libyan authorities requested support in capacity building and training of their coastguards and navy. The objective is to enhance their capability to disrupt smuggling and trafficking in Libya and perform search and rescue activities to save lives so that security in the Libyan territorial waters improves."
"A more secure and stable Libya will reduce illicit traffics and thereby contribute to the overall efforts for the disruption of human trafficking and smuggling networks. On the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 2292, the operation will contribute to information sharing and support implementation of the UN arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya. This will increase maritime situation awareness and limit arms flows to Da'esh and other terrorist groups."
Security Council Resolution 2292 was adopted on 14 June: Resolution 2292 (2016) Adopted by the Security Council at its 7715th meeting, on 14 June 2016 (S/RES/2992, pdf)
"In an effort to implement the arms embargo imposed on Libya, the Security Council today authorized Member States, acting nationally or through regional organizations, to inspect vessels on the high seas off the coast of Libya believed to be in violation of the embargo.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2292 (2016) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the 15-member Council condemned the flow of arms and related materiel into Libya, including to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and other terrorist groups in the country. It urged Member States to combat, by all means, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.
Also by the text, the Council authorized Member States to use all measures to carry out such inspections, without undue delay or interference with the exercise of free navigation, and to seize and dispose of such items without harming the marine environment or the safety of navigation. By further terms, States carrying out inspections would promptly submit an initial written report to the 1970 Committee established to oversee the sanctions against Libya, explaining the grounds for and results of inspection and describing efforts to seek consent from the vessel’s flag State. A subsequent report would provide details not provided in the initial one."
"Today's unanimous adoption by the UN Security Council of Resolution 2292 will now enable Operation Sophia also to play an important role in implementing the UN arms embargo on Libya.
Since the beginning of its mandate one year ago, Operation Sophia has helped save more than 15,000 lives, apprehend 71 suspected smugglers and disable 139 smuggling boats on the high seas. EU Ministers recently agreed to extend its mandate to training of Libya's Coast Guard and the implementation of the UN arms embargo, pending a UNSC Resolution on the latter.
This Resolution reflects the international community's unanimous support to EU work to make the Mediterranean a safer place for everyone, principally for Libyans."
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