Jan Kubis appointed as new UNSMIL head
On 15 January, the UN Security Council (UNSC) approved Jan Kubis, the UN’s current Special Co-ordinator for Lebanon, as the new Special Representative (SRSG) and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to replace Stephanie Williams. The UN has not yet indicated when Kubis will take up the post or what other reorganizations of the role this will entail.
Kubis’ appointment follows a lengthy search for a new Head of UNSMIL, where multiple countries and regional blocs have prevented prior potential appointments. His predecessor Ghassan Salame resigned in March 2020, leaving Stephanie Williams as Acting Head of UNSMIL for the past ten months. An attempt to appoint the former Bulgarian foreign minister Nickolay Mladenov failed when Mladenov withdrew in December last year after many procedural issues were used to delay the finalization of his appointment.
The appointment of a new head of UNSMIL after months of delay will likely provide the UN with a much-needed momentum in the medium-to-long term, but it is not necessarily likely to lead to positive results in the immediate-to-short term. It also signals that the current UN approach of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) is unlikely to reform the Presidential Council (PC) and form a fourth transitional government in the short term without the extra momentum and a tweaked approach which can only begin when Kubis settles into his post and the Biden Administration puts momentum into the process.