UN authorizes operation to prevent migrant smuggling in Libya
UN authorizes operation to prevent migrant smuggling in Libya

[JURIST] With a vote of 14 in favor, the United Nations Security Council [official website] on Friday introduced [press release] a resolution to allow the European Union [official website] to inspect and seize vehicles suspected of smuggling migrants. Authorized under Chapter VII of the UN Charter [text], the resolution permits certain nations to board ships in order to prevent human trafficking. Those nations may review vessels they have “reasonable grounds to suspect are being used for migrant smuggling or human trafficking from Libya.” The Council also urged nations to help Libya in its ongoing struggle against human trafficking in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Libyan conflict [JURIST backgrounder] has seen the country besieged by violence and destruction. In July the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Libya, Bernardino León, condemned [UN news report] the escalating hostilities in the country’s eastern city of Benghazi and the heavy toll being felt by the area’s civilians. Mr. León, who also heads the UN Support Mission in Libya, deplored the repeated shelling of residential areas in the city while reiterating his belief that “there can be no military solution to the conflict.” In May the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court urged [JURIST report] the UN Security Council to take action to strengthen the deteriorating security situation in Libya. In April UNSMIL strongly condemned [JURIST report] the continuous airstrikes on the town of Zintan, noting a high danger to civilians. In March UNSMIL had warned the Security Council that the situation in Libya was deteriorating [JURIST report] and the country would likely become unstable without international intervention. In January an Amnesty International report called on the UN Security Council to impose sanctions [JURIST report] and encourage accountability through International Criminal Court (ICC) indictments and prosecutions to end the cycle of human rights violations and war crimes being committed in Libya. The report focused in particular on the situation in Benghazi.