8595th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Libya

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10-Aug-2019 01:07:25
During emergency meeting, Security Council condemns car bombing in Libya, urging parties to uphold truce as first step towards permanent ceasefire at 8595th meeting.

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The Security Council convened an emergency meeting today, roundly condemning a car bomb explosion in Libya that killed two United Nations staff members and injured scores of others, including civilians, in the northern port city of Benghazi.

Briefing the 15 members on the events, Bintou Keita, Assistant Special Representative for Africa, said the 10 August blast occurred during preparations for Eid al-Adha in an area under the control of General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army forces — highlighting the limits of that command in the absence of one Government and one military and police force working across the country.

“The United Nations does not intend to evacuate from Libya,” she said. “For the foreseeable future our place remains alongside the Libyan people.” She welcomed the agreement by Prime Minister Fayez Mustafa al-Sarraj and General Haftar to respect the truce called for by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Ghassan Salamé, beginning now and lasting through Eid al-Adha.

Urging parties to seize this opportunity as a first step, she said it is essential that the truce is then deepened — notably through confidence-building measures such as exchanges of prisoners or mortal remains, visits to prisoners or phone calls. Parties would then move quickly towards an international meeting, recommitting to a road map to transition Libya back to the peaceful, democratic process. A meeting of Libyans themselves would soon follow.

Ground conditions across Libya require a detente, she said. Simmering intercommunal tensions in Murzuq, exacerbated by 4 August Libyan National Army airstrikes, offer a lens into the environment throughout the country: the absence of State institutions manifested in the absence of services, a near total lack of governance, a dearth of impartial security forces and fading hope. The Council must ensure the truce takes place, not only in areas under the control of specific security forces, but also in areas where there is no clear security actor.

In the ensuing discussion, delegates denounced the attack on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) convoy and pressed for an investigation by local authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice. There is no military solution to the conflict, many insisted. Several speakers praised the Government of National Accord and General Haftar’s forces for agreeing to uphold the truce, calling it a first step on the road to a permanent ceasefire.

France’s representative, whose delegation requested today’s meeting, said the truce will allow civilians to leave conflict areas and aid to reach those in need. The ultimate solution, however, is a lasting ceasefire reached as part of a political process relaunched under the Special Representative’s auspices. She pressed Libyan parties to resume discussions on this basis, so that any agreement reached meets the expectations of all parties, based on the Paris and Palermo principles. She also expressed support for the press statement proposed by the United Kingdom on the events.

“We all need to call, with a unified voice, for the truce to take place and to be followed by a ceasefire,” said the United Kingdom’s representative. The Council must implement the arms embargo, call on all States to do so, hold accountable groups who violate its resolutions or reject the United Nations-led process, and return to national and local dialogue.

Several delegates, including from Belgium, Germany and the Dominican Republic, urged Member States to respect the arms embargo, with Equatorial Guinea’s delegate meanwhile pointing out that third-party agendas are prevailing over the interests of Libyans themselves. Côte d’Ivoire’s representative stressed that arms shipments to the parties, in stark violation of the embargo, are another source of concern.

The Russian Federation’s delegate said there is no alternative to a political solution and re-establishment of effective State institutions. Stressing that the illegal spread of weapons undermines security not only in Libya, but in the entire Sahel and Sahara regions, he cautioned against steps that could complicate cooperation among key political players.

Offering a national perspective, Libya’s representative said the Government of National Accord stands ready to cooperate with the international community to end terrorism. Today’s attack follows the abduction two weeks ago of Parliament member Siham Sergiwa, whose fate is unknown — refuting claims that the so-called Libyan army has eradicated terrorism in Benghazi and is ending it in other places.

“The truth is, what is happening is the total opposite,” he said. The Presidential Council stated its willingness to accept the truce — provided that it includes all fighting areas, that all direct and indirect shooting stops, that no military advance takes place, that all aviation activities are prohibited, that the truce is not misused to move soldiers or mobilize power, and that UNSMIL guarantees its implementation and monitors any violations.

The Council began the meeting by observing a moment of silence in tribute to the victims of the Benghazi attack and their families.

Also speaking today were representatives of Kuwait, United States, China, South Africa, Indonesia, Peru and Poland.

The meeting began at 4:45 p.m. and ended at 5:53 p.m.

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