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PRESIDENT'S REMARKS ON HIS JOINT VISIT WITH THE SECRETARY-GENERAL TO LIBYA (2 November 2011)

New York, 10 November 2011


Mr. Secretary-General,
Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

I am convening today’s meeting to brief you on my joint official visit to Libya, with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

For the past eight months, the people of Libya have gone through a very painful and difficult transition that has claimed the lives of many Libyans and caused untold suffering. 

The Secretary-General and I went to Tripoli at this crucial moment in Libya’s history to demonstrate that the United Nations stands with the Libyan people.

We thought it was important that we go to Libya as soon as the hostilities ended - even if this kind of visit in a very early stage of post-conflict peacebuilding is quite unprecedented – in order to support the Libyans as they embark on their journey of national reconciliation, reconstruction and democracy.

We held meetings with the Chairman of the National Transitional Council, Mr. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, newly-appointed Prime Minister, Mr. Abdel-Rahim al-Keeb, and other senior Libyan officials.  We discussed a wide-range of issues, including the stabilization of the security situation, the political transition, in particular the preparation of elections, and the reconstruction.  

We congratulated the Libyan leadership for the boldness and courage they have shown so far.

We urged the Libyan authorities, in particular the newly-appointed Prime Minister, to provide exemplary leadership and to continue efforts to promote full national reconciliation.

As Libya ushers in a new era of freedom, democracy and human rights, there is a lot of hard work to be done.  This new era in Libya must be guided and developed through inclusiveness, unity and the rule of law. We insisted on the need to ensure the human rights of all Libyans, and more generally of all persons present on the Libyan territory.

All Libyan leaders expressed a clear commitment to building a democratic Libya, grounded in respect for human rights and the dignity of every woman, man and child.

I also underlined the important need for Libya’s transitional authorities to exercise full sovereignty by extending control over all  Libyan territory, in order to prevent and curb the use of any illegal or unauthorized weapons.

I assured the Libyan leaders of the willingness of the United Nations to work hand-in-hand with them, to help the nation of Libya to heal quickly and become a viable, respected and co-operative member of the family of nations.

I stressed the strong commitment of the United Nations to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Libya. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

During this joint visit to Libya, we also visited one of the sites where torture and killings were exercised and spoke with victims’ families.   It was a moment of intense emotion and gravity.

We met with Libyans who have been tortured, who have seen their relatives being burnt alive, who are desperately looking for the remains of their loved ones. I conveyed my deepest condolences to the families and relatives of all those Libyans who lost their lives.  To those have suffered, and to those who are injured, I offered my sincere hope and best wishes for their speedy recovery. 

Although the new authorities have been working hard and doing their best, the Libyan population still faces enormous needs and challenges.

The families of victims, in particular, must be assisted to know the fate of their loved ones.  They must be assisted to trace those who are still missing.  This is one of the most important requests we heard. We need to find a way to provide them with the necessary technical assistance.

Libyans have important need for liquidity. Libyan assets must continue to be unfrozen, to be returned in a secured and accountable way to the Libyan people. I have already raised this issue with the President of the Security Council who is also the President of the Sanctions Committee for Libya.

The security situation is still challenging, and the Libyans also need our technical assistance in this regard.

Finally, our interlocutors also underlined that the humanitarian needs remain important and we have to mobilize to address them.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

During this visit to Libya, we also insisted on meeting with representatives of Libya’s civil society. We met with a group of directors of non-governmental organizations and I have to underline that half of them were women.

I commended them for the role they have played thus far. I underlined the urgent need for them to mobilize their efforts in the reconstruction of their country. They assured me of their willingness to remain engaged. They want to participate fully in the transition and decision making, to have their voices heard.

I reiterated to them my call on all Libyans to unite at this important moment in their nation’s history, to build a new nation that is free, democratic and guided by the rule of law and respect for human rights. 

Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

During a meeting with United Nations staff in Tripoli, I paid tribute to the extraordinary work and dedication of staff of the UN and the various humanitarian organizations who helped the people of Libya during the recent conflict, and who continue to help them in this crucial next stage.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General is leading with great professionalism the United Nations Support Mission in Libya. There are already about 40 UN staff on the ground working in very difficult conditions, and they will be joined soon by more than one hundred other persons. I encouraged all UN staff and institutions to work more closely with the Libyan authorities and with civil society groups. 

I also encouraged the Libyan authorities to provide adequate safety and security for staff of the UN and other international organizations as they continue to assist the Libyan people.

To conclude, I would like to say that, re-affirming Libya’s national ownership of the reconstruction, reconciliation and democratization process, our visit sent a very important message of support and goodwill from the Membership of the United Nations General Assembly and the entire UN system, for the Government and people of Libya at this critical moment in their nation’s history.

I thank you.

 



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