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The Security Council today authorized Member States to acquire, control, transport, transfer and destroy chemical weapons identified by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in Libya to ensure that the country’s stockpile was eliminated in the “soonest and safest” manner.
Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council adopted resolution 2298 (2016), endorsing the 20 July decision of the OPCW Executive Council requesting the Director-General to assist Libya in developing a modified plan of destruction for its chemical weapons. The Executive Council would consider that plan, along with recommendations from the Director-General, to ensure the expeditious transport, storage and destruction of those weapons.
Also by the text, the Council encouraged States to provide personnel, technical expertise, information, equipment and financial and other resources that would enable OPCW to eliminate Libya’s category 2 chemical weapons safely and on the soonest timescale. It requested the Director-General, through the Secretary-General, to regularly report on activities related to implementation of the decision until the weapons destruction was complete and verified.
By further terms, it reminded States of their obligation under resolution 1540 (2004) to enforce measures to establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery.
In taking today’s action, the Council took note of a 16 July letter from the Libyan National Authority for the Chemical Weapons Convention requesting support from OPCW, and States parties to the Convention, in ensuring the destruction of Libya’s remaining category 2 chemical weapons on an expedited basis.
Speaking in explanation of position after the vote, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom said the resolution marked the beginning of the end of Libyan chemical weapons, granting the legal authority for OPCW to remove chemical precursors from Libya to be destroyed in a third country. In doing so, the Council had reduced the chances of those munitions falling into the hands of fanatics and shown a commitment to the people and authorities in Libya. “What we have done today is a good example of the role of the United Nations in tackling global challenges,” and of the United Kingdom’s continued determination to play a leading role in the Organization.
Egypt’s representative said he had voted for the resolution convinced of the need to take united efforts to prevent non-State actors, including terrorist groups like Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), from obtaining weapons of mass destruction. The unanimous vote for the transfer and destruction of weapons from Libya had shown the international determination to take necessary measures, in line with resolution 1540 (2004).
The text, however, did not mention the strategic framework of the initiative, he said: to make the Middle East a zone free from nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. Nor did it mention the threat of Da’esh in Libya or a timeframe and mechanisms for the transfer of chemical substances. Further, it was unclear why the resolution had been placed under Chapter VII. Council members only had had 72 hours to examine the text, making it impossible to offer adjustments, and he was not satisfied with the justification used for proceeding quickly with a vote. Its submission ran counter to the rules of transparency and did not reflect the typical cooperation.
The representative of the Russian Federation called the adoption “an important step in chemical demilitarization”. It was relevant given how various terrorist groups had been springing up in Libya. Syria and Iraq had demonstrated the topical nature of chemical terrorism in the region, for which not enough was being done, he said. Containers must be removed from Libya as soon as possible and swiftly destroyed, subject to OPCW verification procedures. “We must be absolutely sure that dangerous toxic substances do not fall into the hands of terrorists,” he said.
The representative of the United States thanked the United Kingdom for its leadership on the issue. The United States strongly endorsed the Council’s authorization of Member States to help transfer and destroy Libya’s category 2 chemical weapons outside the country, and it was pleased the Council had been able to respond to the initiative of the Libyan Government of National Accord. It was imperative to act quickly in order to prevent non-State actors from capturing and using chemical weapons. He hoped that all Council members would recognize the importance of taking action in an expedited manner.
China’s delegate supported the complete destruction of Libya’s remaining chemical weapons stockpile. He also supported dialogue between Libyan parties and hoped concerned regional organizations would play a constructive role. China opposed chemical weapons and hoped the international community would take steps to prevent their use.
France’s delegate welcomed the resolution, thanking the United Kingdom for drafting it and noting that it had been the result of close work with OPCW and the Libyan authorities. It would guarantee the security of Libya and the region, given the threat posed by non-State actions, he said, adding that it also marked a positive step for the non-proliferation of chemical weapons regime.
The meeting began at 3:10 p.m. and ended at 3:23 p.m.
The full text of resolution 2298 (2016) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Recalling its resolution 1970 (2011) and all its subsequent resolutions on Libya, and support for the Government of National Accord,
“Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Libya,
“Recalling the objective of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (the “Chemical Weapons Convention”) to exclude completely the possibility of the use of chemical weapons,
“Recalling Libya’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2004, and the subsequent decisions of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Executive Council concerning the destruction of Libya’s declared chemical weapons, including precursors and notes the need for continued progress in this regard to ensure the complete destruction of Libya’s chemical weapons,
“Welcoming the decision EC-M-52/DEC.1 of the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) of 20 July on the “Destruction of Libya’s Remaining Chemical Weapons”,
“Noting a letter dated 16 July from the Libyan National Authority for the Chemical Weapons Convention to the OPCW Director-General informing the Secretariat of the movement of all of its remaining chemical weapons to a storage site in the north of the country, requesting the assistance and support of the Secretariat and States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention in ensuring the destruction of Libya’s remaining category 2 chemical weapons on an expedited basis, and expressing the intent of Libya to cooperate fully with the OPCW,
“Recalling the joint announcement, dated 4 February 2014, by Libya and OPCW on the complete destruction of Libya’s category 1 chemical weapons,
“Determining that the potential for acquisition by non-State actors of chemical weapons in Libya represents a threat to international peace and security,
“Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,
“1. Endorses the decision EC-M-52/DEC.1 of the Executive Council of the OPCW on 20 July requesting the Director-General to assist Libya in developing a modified plan of destruction of Libya’s chemical weapons, that will be considered by the Executive Council, along with recommendations from the Director General for additional measures needed to ensure the expeditious transport, storage and destruction of Libya’s chemical weapons and expressing the Executive Council’s determination to ensure the destruction of Libya’s chemical weapons stockpile in a safe and expeditious manner;
“2. Encourages Member States to assist the Government of National Accord in providing support, including personnel, technical expertise, information, equipment, and financial and other resources and assistance, in coordination with the Director-General of the OPCW, to enable the OPCW to implement the elimination of Libya’s category 2 chemical weapons safely and in the soonest practicable timescale;
“3. Decides to authorize Member States to acquire, control, transport, transfer and destroy chemical weapons identified by the Director-General of the OPCW, consistent with the objective of the Chemical Weapons Convention, to ensure the elimination of Libya’s chemical weapons stockpile in the soonest and safest manner, with appropriate consultations with the Government of National Accord;
“4. Requests the Director-General of the OPCW, through the Secretary- General, to report to the Security Council, on activities related to the implementation of OPCW Executive Council Decision EC-M-52/DEC.1 of this resolution on a regular basis until the destruction of the remaining chemical weapons is complete and verified;
“5. Reminds Member States of their obligation under Resolution 1540 (2004) that all States shall take and enforce effective measures to establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery, and reaffirms its decision that Member States shall inform the Security Council immediately of any violation of resolution 1540 including acquisition by non-State actors of chemical weapons, their means of delivery and related materials;
“6. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”