The UN Security Council (UNSC) decided Tuesday, following a unanimous vote of approval, to give permission to all member states to inspect ships in the Mediterranean Sea heading to Libya with the aim of preventing the smuggling of arms into the country.
The UNSC expressed concerns over the alarming rate of arms being smuggled into the North African country, which are being used by terrorist groups operating in Libya, including Islamic State (IS).
UN envoy to Libya Martin Kobler said that the country of 6 million is host to 20 million weapons or weapon parts.
“These weapons do not fall from the sky, but come increasingly through illegal shipments by sea and by land. These arms fuel the conflict. These shipments must end if there is any serious hope of bringing peace to Libya,” he said.
The UN imposed an arms embargo on Libya in 2011 after the country spiraled into turmoil following the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi.
The embargo, however, has not proved to be very effective, as arms continue to enter the oil-rich country.
Currently Libya is only allowed to import arms after receiving permission from the UNSC.
In May, some world powers, including the US, said they would consider lifting the arms embargo to Libya upon the request of the Libyan government of National Accord (GNA) in order to enforce its control in preventing the spread of terrorism across the nation.
The new Libyan prime minister, Fayez Al-Sarraj, said that Libya is facing a huge challenge in fighting IS, and he hopes that western powers can help by arming and training Libyan forces.
Western powers are relying on the GNA to fight IS militias, which took advantage of the political unrest to gain ground. In addition to this, the GNA is expected to control the number of illegal immigrants fleeing to Europe from Libyan coasts. However, the government is still trying to regain full control in Tripoli.
Last March, the UN postponed a decision to lift the embargo on arms to Libya.