UN authorizes sea inspection to crackdown weapons flow into Libya


The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday unanimously authorised a crackdown on arms smuggling in the high seas off Libya by allowing the inspection of vessels to seize and dispose of illicit weapons.

The European Union proposed the council resolution to expand its naval operation in the Mediterranean, which the 15-member Security Council authorised in October to seize and dispose of boats operated by human traffickers.

The council resolution expressed concern that “arms and related materiel are being used by terrorist groups operating in Libya, including ISIL (Islamic State).”

French Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters ahead of the vote that the resolution has “the potential to be a game-changer,” since a large quantity of arms is smuggled via ship off the coast of Libya.

Libya UN envoy Martin Kobler told the Security Council last week that Libya was awash with arms – 20 million pieces of weaponry in the North African state of six million people.

“These weapons do not fall from the sky, but come increasingly through illegal shipments by sea and by land. The arms fuel the conflict. These shipments must end if there is any serious hope of bringing peace to Libya,” he said.

The UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Libya in 2011 when former leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces cracked down on pro-democracy protesters.

British UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said the existing arms embargo had not stopped the flow of arms and that illicit weapons in Libya were “enabling terrorists to murder, to maim, to bring yet more chaos to the people of Libya and the region.”

The resolution asks states to “make good-faith efforts to first seek the consent of the vessel’s flag state prior to any inspections” and calls upon those flag states to cooperate.

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