8448th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Libya

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18-Jan-2019 02:00:04
Without international support in Libya, spoilers will sabotage political process, disrupt fragile economic reforms, Special Representative tells Security Council at 8448th meeting.

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Without the international community’s support in Libya, spoilers will sabotage the political process and unravel the fragile and easily reversible progress made amid an already grim backdrop of sporadic violence and rising humanitarian needs, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the country warned today in a briefing to the Security Council.

“If this were to be allowed, Libya’s progress will be set back years and almost certainly open the door to those who believe there is only a martial solution to Libya’s woes,” said Ghassan Salamé, who also heads the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), via video-conference from Tripoli. Presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on UNSMIL (document S/2019/19), he said a rapidly deteriorating security situation in the south amid sporadic clashes nationwide and worsening humanitarian conditions were exacerbated by a complex political deadlock and persistent attacks by terrorist and armed groups.

Recalling stories citizens shared with him during a recent visit to the south — from the wanton brutality of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) to wading through sewage caused by lack of public infrastructure investments — he said porous borders and the presence of foreign mercenaries only worsened the situation. For its part, the Mission has recalibrated itself to better serve Libya and work with the Government of National Accord, with a planned National Conference that can calm tensions and pave the way to elections. A new unit is also focusing on economic reform.

“It is vital that we are here, in Libya,” he stressed. “Your support to our efforts and clear signals of resolve to the many potential spoilers are vital. Within your grasp, you hold the opportunity to make the National Conference a success and municipal, parliamentary and presidential elections a reality. I can only encourage you to seize this opportunity.”

Libya’s representative, expressing hope about fruitful results from the National Conference — slated for early 2019 — emphasized the critical importance of stakeholders pledging firm commitments to its outcomes. He asked the Council to take all necessary measures to support Libyan security agencies, including by easing the existing arms embargo, which would allow related institutions to acquire the equipment needed to combat terrorist and armed groups. He also hoped the Council, after having Libya on its agenda since 2011, would be able to end foreign interference, which is influencing Libyan parties and preventing the country from reaching solutions.

Council members roundly supported current initiatives to foster calm, with many expressing concern about the deteriorating humanitarian conditions. Many supported a National Conference, with the United Kingdom’s delegate calling it the best way towards an inclusive political settlement. Echoing a common call, Indonesia’s delegate said the Council must exert its influence with various national and external actors to resolve the conflict.

The United States representative urged all Libyans to do their part to break the political deadlock, adding that his country stood ready to lend assistance. There can be no military solution, he declared.

Meanwhile, the Russian Federation’s delegate cautioned that international players, above all the Security Council, must refrain from measures that would make national dialogue more difficult. He stressed the need to consolidate support for Libyan dialogue by boosting the coordinating role of the United Nations. However, despite manifold efforts, prospects for a swift resolution to the crisis are dim, given the lack of compromise and ongoing security incidents.

Some members offered suggestions for overcoming the impasse, with France’s representative saying the status quo is a “shared enemy”. Calling on stakeholders to work towards breaking the political stalemate, he said stability depended on adopting an integrated political, economic and security strategy with an ambitious timetable.

As a member of the African Union High-Level Committee on Libya, South Africa’s delegate said efforts are under way to relaunch preparations for a national reconciliation conference with all relevant stakeholders. South Africa, through its own liberation struggle, understands first-hand the importance of including women in the peace process, he said, and thus welcomes the work of the Presidency Council’s Women Empowerment and Support Unit to advance gender equality.

Also briefing the Council was Jeurgen Schulz (Germany), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya, who provided updates on its work related to the arms embargo and asset freezes.

In addition, representatives of Kuwait, Equatorial Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Poland, Germany (in its national capacity), Peru, Belgium, China and the Dominican Republic delivered statements.

The meeting began at 10:03 a.m. and ended at 12:04 p.m.

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