Difficult to Know How Long Resolving Libya Conflict Might Take, but Responsibility for Finding Solution Lay with Libyan People Themselves, Security Council Told

4 April 2011
SC/10217

Difficult to Know How Long Resolving Libya Conflict Might Take, but Responsibility for Finding Solution Lay with Libyan People Themselves, Security Council Told

4 April 2011
Security Council
SC/10217
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6509th Meeting (PM)

Difficult to Know How Long Resolving Libya Conflict Might Take, but Responsibility

for Finding Solution Lay with Libyan People Themselves, Security Council Told

Envoy, Briefing on Events since 24 March, Including Second Mission, Says World

Community Must Provide Support for Full Implementation of Resolutions 1970, 1973

While it was still very difficult to know how long it will take for conflict in Libya to be resolved, the responsibility for finding a solution lay with the Libyan people themselves, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, told the Security Council today during a briefing on his second mission to the country and other recent events there.

“It is also clear that the international community must continue to come together and do all it can to support this quest for a solution, especially in providing the necessary support for the United Nations to fully implement Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973 (2011),” Mr. al-Khatib said. 

He reiterated the international community’s demand for the full implementation of those resolutions during meetings on 31 March with officials of the Libyan Government, including the Prime Minister, Al Baghdadi Ali Al-Mahmoudi, and senior members of the Foreign Relations Committee of the People’s Congress.  He also emphasized the urgent to need to immediately stop military action, cease all hostilities against civilians and end the siege of all cities and towns.

He further stressed to the Libyan Government the need to respect the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people, to secure safe access to humanitarian assistance and to allow for the safe return of migrant workers from besieged cities.  He also called for the release of all foreign journalists, including four members of an al-Jazeera crew.

During a meeting the next day with members of the interim Transitional National Council, including its Chairman, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, he was presented a “vision of a democratic Libya”, which aimed to restore constitutional legitimacy through a referendum.  That vision outlined the principles and obligations of a political democracy, calling for economic prosperity and development, and the use of science and technology to enhance society, while condemning intolerance, extremism and violence.  Its approach to future international relations would seek regional integration and cooperation; uphold international justice, citizenship and humanitarian law; and respect for international treaties and agreement with other States.

Informed by Mr. al-Khatib of the Libyan authorities’ willingness to accept a ceasefire under the supervision of impartial observers if the Transitional National Council agreed to do the same, that Council’s Chairman stated it was ready to implement a ceasefire provided that the agreement was mutual and included an end to the siege of all western cities, as well as the withdrawal of military forces.  Snipers must also be withdrawn and the population allowed to express their position freely, he said. 

“Furthermore, they indicated that the aim of the people’s uprising is to see the departure of Colonel [Muammar Al-]Qadhafi and that a ceasefire alone was not sufficient to end the conflict,” Mr. al-Khatib said.  However, media reports quote Government statements indicating a rejection to a ceasefire.

The Transitional National Council also raised concerns about the lack of funds, as well as issues relating to the marketing and sale of oil and gas in Libya, he said.  Urgent attention was needed for the economy to function effectively, Council members said, pointing out that sustainability depended on two major sources:  loans guaranteed against oil and gas sales and frozen overseas assets.

The Transitional Council, he said, also welcomed the Commission of Inquiry established by the Human Rights Council, pledging to work closely with it.  During his meeting with the Council, a member arrived after 30 hours travel from Misratah and urged immediate action to end the extremely grave situation in that city.

Turning to the situation on the ground, he noted that despite the effective efforts by coalition members to implement a no-fly zone and protect civilians, the fighting between ground forces of the armed opposition forces and loyalists to Colonel Qadhafi continued, withunconfirmed reports that the Government forces started shelling towns southwest of Tripoli.  Air strikes also continued over the weekend around Sirte and Ras Lanouf.

During the London conference convened on 29 March by British Prime Minister David Cameron, participants — including representatives of the United Nations, Organization of the Islamic Conference, League of Arab States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) — agreed to establish an International Contact Group on Libya to provide leadership and overall political direction to the international effort.  The Contact Group, which was expected to be comprised of 12 to 15 members, would also provide a forum for coordinating the international response and serve as a focal point for contact with Libyan parties, he said, noting that the Conference’s participants had welcomed the Secretary-General’s offer to take a leading role in coordinating humanitarian assistance and planning for longer-term stabilization support. 

Welcoming the meeting of the African Union on 31 March, he said it discussed solutions to the crisis and modalities for a cease fire and was attended by representatives of the European Union, the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the United Nations.  He also welcomed the 25 March ruling of the African Court of Human and People’s Rights calling on the Libyan Government to refrain from actions that would result in deaths or injuries and requested the Government to report within 15 days on its compliance.

Information about the humanitarian situation in Libya, he said, remained limited due to lack of access, but there were significant concerns about landmines, gender-based violence, human rights violations and other issues.  Conditions in and around embattled areas remained grave, particularly in regard to medical care and the disruption of regular services and supplies.  According to reports, tens of thousands had fled fighting in Ajdabiya and the situation remained unstable, even if some had returned. 

As of today, over 400,000 people in total had fled Libya, he said, with more than 12,000 remaining stranded along the borders with Tunisia and Egypt.  As of 29 March, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had provided evacuation assistance for more than 88,000.  Initial movements consisted mainly of male migrant workers, but the number of children arriving at crossings had increased slightly over the past week.  Some families had reported intimidation, harassment and violence within Libya and some migrants with significant medical conditions had been seen and referred for further care.  He welcomed the humanitarian support and the “outpouring of assistance” from Tunisia and Egypt.

As of 3 April, he said, the flash humanitarian appeal for Libya was 70 per cent funded at $133 million, with $1.4 million in pledges.  The United Nations had started a security needs assessments in the east and a humanitarian needs assessment would begin shortly. 

Concluding, he said that he had made four trips to Libya — two to Tripoli, one to Tobruk and another to Benghazi — since he assumed his functions of Special Envoy.  He was fully engaged in establishing contact with both sides and consulting broadly with the international community.  He was prepared to visit other cities in Libya as the situation required and was planning further consultations with regional and international partners.

The meeting was opened at 3:10 p.m. and closed at 3:25 p.m., at which time the Council went into consultations on Libya as previously agreed.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.