UN Security Council extends political mission in Libya

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Monday to extend its political mission in Libya with a mandate to support the government in promoting democracy, restoring public security, and eliminating the flood of weapons in the country especially shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.

A resolution extending the U.N. mission for a year was adopted unanimously at the start of a ministerial meeting on challenges from last year's Arab Spring. Among those attending the meeting were U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the foreign ministers of Russia, Britain, France and Germany.

Libya celebrated the first anniversary of the start of its revolution on Feb. 17, but its government faces a host of problems, first and foremost asserting authority over the country. Hundreds of armed militias that helped oust Muammar Qaddafi are the real power on the ground, wielding control over cities, neighborhoods and borders.

The country has been plagued by revenge attacks by those who suffered at the hands of Qaddafi's forces during the brutal civil war that ousted the Libyan dictator after more than four decades. Human rights groups have documented reports of widespread torture and killings of detainees deemed loyal to Qaddafi, including foreigners suspected of being mercenaries.

According to the U.N., up to 6,000 Libyans are detained in facilities run by revolutionary brigades.

The Security Council welcomed recent positive developments in Libya and said it looks forward to "free, fair and credible elections in June." That vote is expected to establish a 200-member assembly that will appoint a prime minister and select a panel to write a constitution.

But the council also expressed concern over continuing reports of reprisals, arbitrary detentions, torture and extrajudicial executions and called on Libyan authorities "to take all steps necessary to prevent violations of human rights."

The top U.N. envoy to Libya, Ian Martin, recently told the Security Council that Libyan authorities recognize that their main challenge is to address the wide circulation of weapons in the country and the future of the revolutionary fighters, and to develop professional state security institutions under civilian control. . The council maintained the arms embargo on Libya but ordered its committee monitoring sanctions to consult with Libyan authorities and lift the asset freeze on the Libyan Investment Authority and the Libyan Africa Investment Portfolio "as soon as practical."