UN poised to appoint new envoy
On 14 December, the United Nations Security Council appeared poised to appoint former Bulgarian diplomat and current UN envoy for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolai Mladenov, as the new UN Special Envoy for Libya/head of UNSMIL. The appointment was then confirmed on 15 December. Mladenov will replace acting Special Envoy Stephanie Williams, and his appointment follows a series of delays. Most recently, certain Security Council members objected to his appointment before a new envoy for the Middle East peace process was named. On 14 December, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres named veteran Norwegian diplomat Tor Wennesland to succeed Mladenov in this role.
The appointment of Mladenov comes at a critical moment in Libya, as the UN-facilitated political and security dialogue tracks appear to be faltering even if the economic dialogue track may be picking up steam. Indeed, On 14 December, Acting Head of UNSMIL Stephanie Williams convened a technical meeting of representatives of Libya’s main financial institutions in Geneva to discuss policy reforms and ‘establish a more durable and equitable economic arrangement.’ Although Williams has managed to gain significant traction in these processes, the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) has recently come under significant criticism, signalling a possible opportunity for a ‘fresh start’ led by Mladenov. Mladenov also brings extensive experience in complex and difficult conflict zones including Iraq. Nonetheless, several forces are working against a successful peace process in Libya, including persistent power projections by international actors such as Turkey and internal contests among Libya’s institutional heads.