(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
Increased concern for the weapons situation in Libya led to a United Nations Security Council approved resolution on Monday allowing for measures to be taken to try to stop the smuggling of weapons into Libya.
Libya, with a population of about 6 million, has 20 million weapons, a fact that alarmed UN representative to Libya Martin Kobler. The major concern is that the smuggled weapons are falling in the hands of ISIS and other militia groups not supported by Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA).
“These shipments must end if there is any serious hope of bringing peace to Libya,” said Kobler.
Operation Sophia’s mandate has been expanded as a result of the resolution. The operation launched a year ago to bring an end to migrants being trafficked from Libya to Europe. Now the operation will also reflect the objectives outlined in the resolution.
Boats suspected of carrying smuggled arms near Libya’s coast on the Mediterranean Sea will be investigated by UN Security Council Member States’ boats. The resolution authorizes Member States to seize boats trafficking weapons and to get rid of the weapons.
Before boarding a boat suspected of smuggling, the resolution outlines that Member States’ boats are to contact the suspected boat’s “flag State prior to any inspections.”
The resolution will be in effect for 12 months with the expectation that Member States will consult with Libya’s GNA as necessary.
The instability in Libya that followed the 2011 uprising created a power vacuum in the country that allowed for rogue militia groups to form and operate within Libya. With the formation of the GNA in March of this year, this UN resolution is suspected to be effective in reducing the strength of the various militias in Libya who have not joined under the national army.