8104th Security Council Meeting: The situation in Libya

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16-Nov-2017 01:56:35
Delegates stress key importance of Libyan political agreement, as Special Representative briefs Security Council at 8104th meeting.

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Two months since the launch of the Action Plan for Libya, the United Nations mission in that country had simultaneously started working to amend the Libyan Political Agreement, organizing a national conference, preparing for elections and providing humanitarian assistance, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative told the Security Council today.

Briefing on the situation, Ghassan Salamé, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), said the country was divided at an “atomic level”. An explosion of competing individual agendas often masqueraded as representing regions, cities or tribes, he said, emphasizing the crucial importance of reconstructing the national polity, without which effective institutions could not form.

Reporting that the Action Plan had made significant headway, he recalled that he had convened two sessions of the Joint Drafting Committee comprising members of both the House of Representatives and the High Council of State. UNSMIL was preparing for the National Conference, to take place in February 2018, he said, adding that he was trying to establish the proper political and technical conditions for the elections. The Libyan Political Agreement of 2015 must stand, amended or not, as the framework for ending the transition.

Turning to the question of migrants and refugees, he said an increasing number were arbitrarily detained in a system without accountability. Migrants continued to be subjected to extreme violence, torture, rape, extortion and forced labour, he said, urging the Government to address challenges relating to respect for the rights of migrants and host communities across the country.

Three serious challenges had imposed themselves, he said: impunity for grave crimes; the economy of predation; and the erosion of frozen assets. Impunity and lawlessness still prevailed across the country in the face of increasingly heinous crimes committed every day. Billions of dollars in illicit money transfers were lost every year. The trafficking of subsidized fuel to foreign countries robbed Libya of hundreds of millions of dollars every month, while hundreds of million more were silently being lost due to poor management of Libya’s frozen assets, he said. “It is outrageous that a country which stands upon such vast wealth has so many suffering.”

Olof Skoog (Sweden), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya, known as the 1970 Committee, reported that, on the basis of a request by Government of Libya, the Committee had renewed the listings for the vessels Capricorn and Lynn S, which had attempted to illicitly export gas oil from Libya. The Committee had also responded to a request from Egypt on the scope of measures contained in the draft resolution in relation to vessels transiting the Suez Canal. Regarding the arms embargo, he said the Committee had approved two requests for exemption, from UNSMIL and the Netherlands. It also sought further clarification of two exemption requests submitted by Switzerland and Canada in respect of the asset freeze.

Council President Angelino Alfano, Italy’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, spoke in his national capacity, stressing that the stability of the entire Sahel region was at stake in Libya. Priorities included fighting terrorism and controlling borders. The decline in migration flows was encouraging but it could not be at the expense of human rights, he emphasized. As the first country to re-establish a diplomatic presence in Tripoli, he welcomed the United Nations presence and encouraged other Member States to return to Libya.

Mohamed T.H. Salia, Libya’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, reaffirmed that his country’s Government of National Accord was committed to working within the United Nations framework to end the crisis in the country and called for international support to continue in order for Libyans to come together. He expressed hope for agreement between Libya’s two competing legislatures and for progress towards elections soon. He underlined the importance of maintaining the ban on illicit sales of oil and of returning smuggled shipments to Libyan authorities. As for frozen Libyan assets, he said the measure had been intended to protect assets after the fall of the previous regime, but it had not taken the subsequent protracted crisis into account. For that reason, it was now counterproductive to the interests of the Libyan people. He called not for lifting the asset freeze, but for ways to manage the funds and prevent the current losses.

Delegates welcomed the progress achieved and urged Libyan leaders to continue their cooperation with the Special Representative in implementing the Action Plan in order to establish a truly national Government. The Libyan Political Agreement was the only framework for the path forward, they said.

However, several delegates noted that responsibility for implementing the Agreement rested on the shoulders of all Libyan actors. Some stressed that it was up to the Libyan authorities to address the problem of migrants and refugees, and that those responsible for violating their human rights through torture, rape and killing must be prosecuted.

Senegal’s representative pointed out the deleterious effects of the crisis on the entire Sahel region, saying it was characterized by the spread of illicit weapons, other forms of smuggling and terrorism. Implementation of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and support for the G5 Sahel were critical in that regard, he said.

The representative of the United States said spoilers must not block reconciliation any longer, noting that some asserted that the Libyan Political Agreement would expire in December. Some made such claims as a pretext for dragging their feet, she said, stressing that the Agreement was the only valid framework during the transition period. She also emphasized that sanctions must focus on the illegal smuggling of oil, reminding all Member States that the two sanctioned vessels must not be permitted to enter their ports.

Several other delegates also stressed the importance of sanctions, with the Russian Federation’s representative pointing out that that the flow of weapons remained a great threat. Calling for strict compliance with the arms embargo, he said that easing the regime would be premature. There should be no free interpretations of the sanctions already in place, he stressed.

Bolivia’s representative noted the high humanitarian cost of clashes between armed groups, the alarming number of migrants and refugees losing their lives in the Mediterranean Sea, and the detention of migrants under horrible conditions, including torture. The effects of conflict in the region resulted from policies of regime change, he said.

Representatives of the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Egypt, Japan, China, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Uruguay and Ethiopia also delivered statements.

The meeting began at 10:09 a.m. and ended at 12:06 p.m.
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