|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6566th Meeting (AM)
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Briefing Security Council on Libya
Situation, Says Negotiation Process Must Have Time ‘to Grow and Bear Fruit’
Members also Hear from Chair of Sanctions Committee
As South African Delegate Voices African Union’s Concern over Air Strikes
While Libyan authorities and opposition leaders remained far from agreement, a nascent negotiation process had started and “must be given space to grow and bear fruit”, the top United Nations political affairs official told the Security Council today as he called for a clear, consistent and coherent message on a political solution.
“We have an obligation to protect the people of Libya and that is the goal of the current international efforts,” said B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefing Council members on the situation in Libya. A campaign to fulfil that obligation continued with support from North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) air strikes, he added.
Meanwhile, discussions involving the Libyan authorities, world leaders and United Nations representatives were intensifying with the aim of finding a lasting political solution, he said. In particular, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, was meeting today with President Jacob Zuma of South Africa in the wake of Sunday’s meeting of the African Union High-Level Ad Hoc Committee on Libya.
Mr. Pascoe reported that, in a related development, the International Criminal Court had issued arrest warrants today for Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam Qadhafi and Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi on charges of crimes against humanity. The warrants had been issued pursuant to Security Council resolution 1970 (2011), which charged the Court with investigating possible human rights violations and war crimes committed following the Libyan Government’s brutal crackdown on the popular uprisings that began in the North African country earlier this year.
Nearly five months since the beginning of the political crisis, the United Nations was continuing its efforts to implement the provisions of resolutions 1970 (2011) and 1973 (2011), he said. While a detailed understanding of the military situation was not available, it was clear that the initiative, although halting, was now with the opposition forces, supported at times by NATO air power. Press reports pointed to heavy fighting in the vicinity of Bir al-Ghanam, some 50 miles from Tripoli, and there were also reports of NATO air strikes in the capital itself, fighting in Brega and shelling of Misrata by regime forces.
Mr. Pascoe said the Secretary-General continued his discussions with the Libyan authorities, the European Union, the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, NATO and other partners close to the conflict. On 18 June, he had participated in a second high-level meeting of regional organizations in Cairo, during which all participating entities had been united in their resolve to find a lasting solution. Following his meeting with President Zuma, Special Envoy Al-Khatib was planning another visit to Libya and a subsequent briefing to the Council.
He went on to note that the Special Envoy had completed two additional trips to Libya since the last Council briefing, on 31 May 2011, and remained in close contact with both parties with a view to “narrowing the differences” between them and beginning indirect talks. To that end, recent discussions with Government officials in Tripoli had revolved around the need to end hostilities, agree on a transitional arrangement linked to a political process, and facilitate safe humanitarian access. Mr. Al-Khatib had encouraged the regime to accept a transition and define its parameters, while the Transitional National Council, for its part, had reiterated its willingness to work with and through the United Nations, including by engaging in direct talks, to define the transition.
Turning to the humanitarian situation, he reported that more than 1.1 million people had crossed Libya’s borders into neighbouring States as of 23 June. As the opposition took control of new towns, however, there were reports of some migrant workers returning. An estimated 3,000 individuals remained stranded at border points in Egypt, Tunisia and Niger. There were also concerns about the many migrants — mostly from sub-Saharan Africa — sailing for Europe in dangerous conditions, and about the negative effects on some countries of lost remittances from migrant workers.
Nonetheless, new access for United Nations humanitarian agencies to areas of Libya, due largely to an agreement reached with the authorities at the end of May, was a major positive development, he said. As the campaign continued and the negotiation process evolved, it was important for the international community to deliver a “clear, consistent and coherent message on a political solution”, the Under-Secretary-General stressed, calling for the inclusion of preparations for post-conflict peacebuilding and peace consolidation in plans for the future.
Also briefing the Council was José Filipe Moraes Cabral ( Portugal), Chairman of the Committee established to monitor sanctions imposed on Libya. He said that between 29 March and 27 June 2011, the Committee had convened one informal consultation to meet with the newly elected Panel of Experts, and to hear a briefing by the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL)’s Notice System to the Council’s sanctions committees. The Expert Panel was currently on a mission to several countries in Europe, gathering information regarding implementation of the measures decided in resolutions 1970 (2011) and 1973 (2011). The visit would be followed by another to Africa.
He said the Committee had dealt with a number of communications from Member States, relating, among other things, to the assets freeze and arms embargo imposed by resolution 1970 (2011). While most specific proposals on making additions to the list of individuals or entities subject to the asset freeze were still under consideration, the Committee had designated two individuals for listing on 24 June 2011. Recalling that the Council had called on Member States to report within 120 days on the steps they had taken in effective implementation of the arms embargo, the Committee had received only 30 such reports, he noted, reminding Member States of the deadline for submission.
Doctor Mashabane ( South Africa) said that, despite the adoption of two Council resolutions and the ongoing NATO-led military action, no solution had been found to the crisis; rather, there had only been more losses of civilian lives and greater destruction of civilian infrastructure. Upon the Council’s adoption of resolution 1973 (2011), South Africa had called for a focus on seeking a political rather than a military solution, he recalled, emphasizing that a politically negotiated settlement was the only way to achieve durable peace in Libya. Indeed, resolution 1973 (2011) specifically highlighted the need for a political solution, he noted, calling for full implementation of the text in letter and spirit. South Africa had supported it in hopes of creating an enabling environment for the Libyans to resolve the situation themselves, he said, stressing that its purpose had never been “regime change”. Libya’s future should be decided by Libyans, not outsiders.
He went on to note that the African Union had developed a comprehensive road map that set out in detail the path towards a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned solution, including democratic elections that would allow the Libyan people to choose their own leaders. While the African Union was central to any solution, the United Nations should remain the lead coordinator of humanitarian activities on the ground, he said.
The African Union High-Level Ad Hoc Committee on Libya, meeting yesterday in Pretoria, had expressed concern about the continuing fighting, as well as the NATO-led air strikes, he recalled. It had called for an end to all violence and for a concerted effort to begin national reconciliation and dialogue for a political transformation. It had also demanded an immediate end to the NATO-led bombing so that humanitarian aid could be delivered to those desperately in need. The African Union had also accepted Colonel Qadhafi’s decision not to be a part of the ongoing negotiations, he said.
He said that, while awaiting further discussion of the matter at the upcoming African Union Summit to be held in Equatorial Guinea, South Africa would call on the Security Council, the wider United Nations and other stakeholders to help deliver the people of Libya from the scourge of conflict in which they found themselves.
The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 10:30 a.m.
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For information media • not an official record