Libya’s opposition leaders have ruled out any major role for foreign peacekeepers in the country after the fall of Moammar Gaddafi, insisting that a new transitional government will take the lead in establishing security, according to top U.N. officials.
The decision, which has been detailed in high-level talks involving representatives of the Transitional National Council, U.N. officials and foreign governments over the past week, reflects the opposition’s growing confidence in its ability to manage any security vacuum in the country.
The move has forced the United Nations to revise its own security plans for Libya. Before the rebels reached Tripoli last week, the U.N. leadership had approached Jordan and Turkey to see if they would head a multinational force to protect a large U.N. mission in Libya, according to officials.
The plan — which would have formed part of a cease-fire agreement — has since been scrapped, as has a proposal to deploy a small contingent of U.N. arms monitors to help control the movement of illicit arms.
A copy of the plan was disclosed earlier Monday by a blog that covers the United Nations.
“The United Nations had made contingency plans for the deployment of unarmed military observers in the context of a cease-fire, but subject to further developments, we are not now expecting a request for any United Nations military deployment,” Ian Martin, a special adviser to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, told members of the Libya Contact Group, which is coordinating the international response to the Libya crisis, at a meeting in Istanbul late last week.
According to a statement, Martin told those gathered that he was in preliminary discussions with the opposition leaders about a possible role for the United Nations in helping them develop their capacity to police Libyan cities, including Tripoli, that they have captured. “The challenge of bringing security out of the current complexity of old and new armies, militias and police, and then developing accountable security institutions for a democratic state, is a formidable one,” Martin said. “It will require support from multiple sources, which Libya must chose.”
“One thing that the TNC has made very clear is that they expect the United Nations to play a strong role in the post-conflict period,” B. Lynn Pascoe, the U.N. undersecretary general for political affairs, told reporters after a briefing at the U.N. Security Council on Friday. “There is at this point no plans whatsoever to have any blue helmets.”
Martin told the contact group that the United Nations and outside relief groups were finalizing a “30-day action plan” to ensure the quick delivery of basic humanitarian supplies, water and food, and that the United Nations planned to return to Tripoli and other vital towns “in the coming days” to restart stalled relief programs.
The U.N. secretary general, meanwhile, is expected to ask the Security Council to grant the United Nations a mandate to establish an “integrated advance mission” to support Libyan efforts on a series of fronts, Martin told the contact group. Those include the efforts aimed at:
- Restoring public security and order and promoting rule of law;
- Leading inclusive political dialogue, promoting national reconciliation, and determining the constitution-making and electoral process;
- Extending state authority, including through the strengthening of emerging accountable institutions and the restoration of public services;
- Protecting human rights, particularly for vulnerable groups, and supporting transitional justice; and
- Initiating an economic recovery.