Monday, 12 October 2015

Security Council authorises operations to tackle people smuggling of coast of Libya

On Friday 9 October, the UN Security Council authorised Member States, acting nationally or through regional organisations that are engaged in the fight against migrant smuggling and human trafficking, to inspect on the high seas off the coast of Libya vessels that they have reasonable grounds to suspect being used for migrant smuggling or human trafficking from Libya and to seize vessels confirmed as being used for such purposes. Acting under C.VII of the UN Charter, the Security Council authorised such action for a period of one year and the resolution was passed with 14 votes in favour, Venezuela abstaining.

The resolution notes the exceptional and specific circumstances present in the situation and was decided "with a view to saving the threatened lives of migrants or of victims of human trafficking".

The resolution also sets a number of requirements for Member States, including the requirement to make good faith efforts to obtain the consent of the vessel’s flag State prior to using the authority outlined in the resolution, to act in full compliance with international human rights law, to provide for the safety of persons on board as an utmost priority and to avoid causing harm to the marine environment or to the safety of navigation. The actions are also not applicable to vessels entitled to sovereign immunity under international law and the resolution underscores that the aim is to disrupt the organised criminal enterprises engaged in migrant smuggling and human trafficking and prevent loss of life. It is not intended to undermine the human rights of individuals or prevent them from seeking protection under international human rights law and international refugee law.

Members States are also called on to assist Libya, upon request in building needed capacity including to secure its borders and to prevent, investigate and prosecute acts of smuggling of migrants and human trafficking through its territory and in its territorial sea, and to cooperate with the Libyan Government, and with each other, including by sharing information about acts of migrant smuggling and human trafficking in Libya’s territorial sea and on the high seas off the coast of Libya, and rendering assistance to migrants and victims of human trafficking recovered at sea, in accordance with international law.

The full text of the resolution can be found here. The UN's press release is available here and background to the adoption of the resolution available here.

/ Sally