15 EU humanitarian assistance to Libya|
|Council Decision repealing Council Decision 2011/210/CFSP on a European Union military operation to support humanitarian assistance and protection of civilians in response to the crisis situation in Libya (EUFOR Libya)
|Legal base||Article 42(4) and 43(2) TEU; unanimity
|Department||Foreign and Commonwealth Office
|Basis of consideration||EM of 4 November 2011
|Previous Committee Report||None; but see (32626) : HC 428-xxii (2010-12), chapter 10 (30 March 2011); also see (32606) and (32610) : HC 428-xxi (2010-11), chapter 9 (23 March 2011) and (32546) and (32549) : HC 428-xviii (2010-11), chapter 12 (2 March 2011)
|Discussion in Council||14 November 2011 or the 1 December 2011 Foreign Affairs Council
|Committee's assessment||Politically important
15.1 On 23 February 2011 the European Union expressed its grave
concern over the situation unfolding in Libya; strongly condemned
the violence and use of force against civilians; deplored the
repression against peaceful demonstrators; and reiterated its
call for an immediate end to the use of force and for steps to
address the legitimate demands of the population.
15.2 On 26 February 2011, the UN Security Council
adopted UNSCR 1970 (2011). Deploring what it called "the
gross and systematic violation of human rights" in strife-torn
Libya, the Security Council demanded an end to the violence and
decided to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court
while imposing an arms embargo on the country and a travel ban
and assets freeze on the family of Muammar Al-Qadhafi and certain
Government officials. It authorized all Member States to seize
and dispose of military-related materiel banned by the text. It
called on all Member States to facilitate and support the return
of humanitarian agencies and make available humanitarian and related
assistance in Libya and expressed its readiness to consider taking
additional appropriate measures as necessary to achieve that.
15.3 We subsequently considered the relevant Council
Decision and implementing Council Regulation at our meeting on
3 March 2011. The Council Decision and Regulation raised no questions
per se, but we reported them to the House nonetheless because
of the widespread interest in the situation in Libya.
15.4 On 17 March 2011, demanding an immediate ceasefire
in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians,
which it said might constitute "crimes against humanity",
the UN Security Council imposed a ban on all flights in the country's
airspace a no-fly zone and tightened sanctions
on the Qadhafi regime and its supporters. In adopting Resolution
1973 (2011) by a vote of ten in favour to none against, with five
abstentions (Brazil, China, Germany, India, Russian Federation),
the Council authorized Member States, acting nationally or through
regional organizations or arrangements, to take all necessary
measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country,
including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force
of any form on any part of Libyan territory.
15.5 On 21 March 2011, the Foreign Affairs Council
adopted conclusions on Libya that, inter alia:
its concern at the then situation and condemned the gross and
systematic violation of human rights, violence and brutal repression
perpetrated by the regime against the Libyan people;
expressed its satisfaction after the
adoption of UNSCR 1973 and underlined its determination to contribute
to its implementation;
said that it and the EU Member States
would support actions provided for by UNSCR 1973 necessary to
protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of
noted that the EU would continue to provide
humanitarian assistance to all those affected.
15.6 On 21 March the House adopted the following
"That this House welcomes United Nations
Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1973; deplores the ongoing
use of violence by the Libyan regime; acknowledges the demonstrable
need, regional support and clear legal basis for urgent action
to protect the people of Libya; accordingly supports Her Majesty's
Government, working with others, in the taking of all necessary
measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under
threat of attack in Libya and to enforce the No Fly Zone, including
the use of UK armed forces and military assets in accordance with
UNSC Resolution 1973; and offers its wholehearted support to the
men and women of Her Majesty's armed forces."
15.7 On 23 March we cleared a Council Decision and
Council Regulation that authorised Member States to:
take the necessary measures to prevent the flights of aircrafts
under their jurisdiction in the airspace of Libya, save those
whose sole purpose is humanitarian;
inspect vessels and aircraft bound to
or from Libya, if they have reasonable grounds to believe that
such vessels are carrying prohibited cargo;
deny permission to any Libyan aircraft
to take off from, land in or overfly their territory;
deny permission to any aircraft to take
off from, land in or overfly their territory, if they have reasonable
grounds to believe that the aircraft contains prohibited items,
including the provision of armed mercenary personnel.
15.8 The measures also extended the travel ban and
asset freeze to encompass not just the Qadhafi family and a range
of other individuals but also state enterprises under the control
of Muammar Qadhafi and his family, and thus a potential source
of funding for his regime.
15.9 The Council Decision and Regulation raised no
questions in and of themselves. We nonetheless reported these
measures because of their political importance. In so doing, we
noted that the Minister was "doing a lot of preparatory work
in order to be able to take further measures very soon",
and asked him to do all that he could to continue to keep the
Committee informed about what was plainly a very fast-moving situation.
Council Decision 2011/210/CFSP
15.10 The Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions also
expressed the EU's readiness to provide CSDP support to humanitarian
assistance in response to a request from OCHA
and under the coordinating role of the UN, such actions to respect
fully the UN guidelines on the use of military and civil defence
15.11 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 29 March 2010,
the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) explained that:
Council subsequently agreed on 24 March a Crisis Management Concept
outlining the potential response;
this would support the implementation
of UNSCRs 1970 and 1973 through the protection of civilians by
providing EU military capabilities to assist the UN in the evacuation
of refuges from the borders with Tunisia and/or Egypt or by providing
specialised capabilities to support humanitarian assistance;
the European Council of Friday 25 March
2011 agreed that EU planning should continue;
this Council Decision would enable planning
for a potential CSDP military operation to proceed to the next
15.12 The Minister commented on the proposal as follows:
THE CRISIS MANAGEMENT CONCEPT
"We agreed an EU Crisis Management Concept
(CMC) on 24 March 2011 which sets out the conceptual framework
of how a CSDP operation might operate. This is an EU Restricted
document, but in summary it sets the framework for potential CSDP
action in accordance with the mandates of UNSCR 1970 and 1973
through the protection of civilians by providing EU military capabilities
to assist the UN in the evacuation of refugees or by providing
specialised capabilities to support humanitarian assistance. It
also emphasised the need for further planning and preparation,
including ensuring close coordination and complementarity with
relevant humanitarian actors, in particular with OCHA, the European
Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (known as ECHO)
and other international actors including NATO.
WHAT DOES THIS COUNCIL DECISION DO?
"The purpose of the Council Decision is
to allow for further and more detailed contingency planning. It
would do this by designating an operational commander and headquarters
(probably in Italy). This planning is required so that the EU
can respond swiftly in case its support is requested by UN OCHA.
"It approves the readiness of the EU to
provide CSDP support to humanitarian agencies with two important
locks ahead of any mission launch. The first is that the launch
of any mission can only be considered if OCHA requests assistance,
as per the FAC Conclusions this would demonstrate need.
The wording of the draft Decision will be tightened in this respect.
Secondly, the decision to launch a mission will need to be approved
by the Council when considering the operational plan which will
result from this next phase of planning.
WHY DO WE SUPPORT IT?
"The humanitarian situation in Libya and
at its borders is cause for concern and could be aggravated by
migration movements resulting from events. The EU and Member States
have already mobilised humanitarian aid working with the UN in
evacuating refugees and third country nationals from Tunisia.
If there is a deterioration in the humanitarian situation, and
a request for assistance is received from OCHA, the EU has committed
itself politically to be able to respond rapidly. This Council
Decision allows for prudent planning to take place that will help
the EU to react swiftly, but with appropriate locks, and we are
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
"Once the Council Decision is taken, detailed
formal planning will commence. Should a request not be forthcoming
from OCHA, and the situation on the ground does not require a
CSDP operation within the parameters set out in the Decision,
then the Council can take a decision to repeal the Decision closing
the operational headquarters.
"If a request is made from OCHA for CSDP
support, then planning documents (an operational plan) can be
considered and agreed by the Political and Security Committee
(PSC). Agreement to launch a mission will be subject to a further
Council Decision, on which the Scrutiny Committees would be consulted."
15.13 We noted that any decision to launch this mission
which was called EUFOR Libya would be dependent
on a request from the UN and a further Council Decision. Since,
no matter how circumscribed, this would amount to an EU military
mission, and in very challenging circumstances, we asked the Minister
to do everything possible to ensure that the Committee was able
to consider it in a timely fashion.
15.14 In the meantime, we cleared the draft Council
Decision from scrutiny.
15.15 It was adopted on 1 April 2011, as Council
The draft Council Decision
15.16 The draft Council Decision would close down
The Government's view
15.17 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 4 November
2011, the Minister of Europe (Mr David Lidington) welcomes work
done within the EU and at the Rome operations headquarters (OHQ);
however, he says, the launch of EUFOR Libya is now highly unlikely.
The situation in Libya has improved; OCHA and the humanitarian
community are adequately managing the current humanitarian needs;
and the Libya National Transitional Council (NTC) has stated that
it does not want any foreign military forces deployed in Libya
hence this Council Decision recommending closure of EUFOR
Libya and its OHQ.
15.18 The Minister says that the EU is working closely
with the United Nations and others in coordinating international
support to post-conflict Libya in the immediate term,
humanitarian assistance as well as work "to build on the
flourishing role of civil society"; next, a comprehensive
needs assessment covering the key areas identified by the Libyan
authorities. The Minister explains that the EU has been given
responsibility for coordinating assessments in the areas of border
control, civil society and communications and will also be participating
in assessments in other areas (for example public security) which
are being led by the UN and World Bank/International Monetary
Fund; it is hoped that some of these assessment missions will
be on the ground soon. Once the assessments are complete and an
implementation plan agreed, the Minister says that the EU will
be likely to offer assistance in a wide range of areas, which
could cover education, women's rights, public financial management,
and security sector reform; and which might include a civilian
CSDP mission (though, the Minister notes, formal discussions have
yet to take place).
15.19 With regard to the Financial Implications,
the Minister says that:
UK is liable for 14.36% of the costs of establishing and running
the final costs will be known when closure
common costs were restricted to 7.9
million to allow for contingency planning;
he does not expect the full amount to
have been required.
15.20 The Minister concludes by noting that closure
of the OHQ is planned to be completed by the end of November,
and that he expects the Council Decision to be adopted by either
the 14 November or the 1 December Foreign Affairs Council.
15.21 Even though the draft Council Decision itself
is entirely straightforward, we consider that the overall context
is such that a Report to the House is appropriate.
15.22 We now clear the draft Council Decision.
70 See http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/cfsp/119453.pdf
for the full text. Back
Full details of UN Security Council resolution 1970 (2011) are
available at http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2011/sc10187.doc.htm. Back
See headnote: (32546) - and (32549) -: HC 428-xviii (2010-11),
chapter 12 (2 March 2011). Back
The full conclusions are available at http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/120065.pdf. Back
See HC Deb, 21 March 2011, cols 700-806 and http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110321/debtext/110321-0001.htm#1103219000001. Back
See headnote: (32610) -: HC 428-xxi (2010-11), chapter 9 (23 March
See headnote: (32606) - and (32610) -: HC 428-xxi (2010-11), chapter
9 (23 March 2011). Back
OCHA is the part of the United Nations Secretariat responsible
for bringing together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent
response to emergencies and ensures there is a framework within
which each actor can contribute to the overall response effort.
For full information about OCHA, see http://www.unocha.org/. Back
MCDA Guidelines (the Guidelines on the Use of Military and Civil
Defence Assets to Support United Nations Humanitarian Activities
in Complex Emergencies) provide guidelines for the use of international
military and civil defence personnel, equipment, supplies and
services in support of the United Nations (UN) in pursuit of humanitarian
objectives in complex emergencies. For further details, see http://ocha.unog.ch/drptoolkit/PNormativeGuidanceSpecificIssues.html.
See headnote: (32626) -: HC 428-xxii (2010-11), chapter 10 (30
March 2011). Back