The UN Deliberately (Albeit Mistakenly) Accorded Sovereignty to Post-Qadhafi Libya’s Economic Institutions
Timed for the special session on Libya at the UN today, MEI has released the last piece of Jason Pack’s argument about how Libya’s Economic Institutions acquired sovereignty.
We are currently in the only week of the year where the role of the UN in crafting novel multilateral approaches to global challenges takes centre stage…..Roughly put, international legal precedents toward the Libya conflict are made in the UN Security Council and nowhere else. It is UN Security Council resolutions and UNSMIL’s actions and pronouncements which constitute international law toward the vacuum of authority and sovereignty that is post-Gadhafi Libya.
Building on — and referenced in — IAI’s “It’s the Economy Stupid: How Libya’s Civil War Is Rooted in Its Economic Structures” this brief report, The UN Deliberately (Albeit Mistakenly) Accorded Sovereignty to Post-Qadhafi Libya’s Economic Institutions” explores how the language of the Skhirat Agreement is still constraining attempts to reform Libya’s economy, fight corruption, and resolve the ongoing political impasse in the country.
The Dec. 17, 2015 Skhirat Agreement (frequently called the Libyan Political Agreement) uses the terms “sovereign” or “sovereignty” 15 times — the four usages of “sovereignty” refer to Libya’s national sovereignty and the need to maintain it, while all 11 usages of “sovereign” refer to the supposedly “sovereign” nature of Libya’s various semi-sovereign economic institutions and the “sovereign” functions of their heads. The Skhirat Agreement was prepared in Arabic and English simultaneously and the Arabic and English versions are legally co-equal. The Arabic version further clarifies the treaty’s intention to attribute “sovereignty” to the head of the economic institutions using the word السيادة (sovereignty) in the usages referring to Libya’s national sovereignty, but وظائف السيادية (sovereign positions/jobs) when referring to the heads of the economic institutions, and المؤسسات السيادية (sovereign institutions) to refer to the sovereign nature of the institutions themselves. The jobs of prime minister, deputy prime minister, presidential council member, and various military functions are explained at length in the document, but the word “sovereign” is never applied in reference to them or the institutions or government functions that they lead.
So where does this mistaken use of language leave us?
As foreign ministers and their retinues are currently discussing the Libya question in New York and will do so again at a proposed German conference envisioned for October or November, they are faced with an ideal opportunity to correct the insidious implications of this previous UN misstep. The Skhirat Agreement remains the be-all and end-all of international policy toward Libya. Each new UN three-step plan and each new peace conference is conceived as deriving its legitimacy from the Skhirat Agreement.
It is finally time we moved onto something new.