Optimism that Followed Signing of Political Agreement Giving Way to Growing Impatience, Top United Nations Official in Libya Tells Security Council

SC/12390
6 June 2016
7706th Meeting (PM)

Optimism that Followed Signing of Political Agreement Giving Way to Growing Impatience, Top United Nations Official in Libya Tells Security Council

Permanent Representative Stresses that Armed Groups Must Sign Accord, Disarm

The sense of hope and optimism felt in Libya following the signing of that country’s political deal last December was giving way to a growing sense of impatience and concern, the Security Council heard today during a briefing on the latest developments in the North African country.

In his briefing to the Council, Martin Kobler, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), said the Secretary-General’s latest report (document S/2016/452) detailed Libya’s recent political progress, as well as the tragic humanitarian situation that had resulted in personal tragedies and collective suffering there.

In recent weeks, more than 6,000 families from Sirte alone had fled their homes to escape ongoing clashes and military operations against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), he said, adding that many were sheltering in schools, universities and public buildings.  The number of displaced persons had reached a staggering 435,000 and the capacity of local communities and aid agencies to host and provide them with assistance had been stretched to the breaking point.

He went on to recall that 1,100 migrants had died in the Mediterranean Sea in May, and on a single day during that month, 500 migrants had drowned off the Libyan coast, including 40 children.  Migrant drownings had increased by more than 30 per cent compared to the same period in 2015, he said, emphasizing that it was unacceptable that Libya’s health-care system was so thoroughly dilapidated, with acute shortages of health workers, as well as essential medicines and supplies.

Next week would mark six months since the December signing of the Libyan Political Agreement, the first time that the Libyan people had dared to believe that peace and unity was attainable in their country, he said.  It had also been the first time they had dared to believe that the guns that had brought untold suffering and destruction to their lives, could finally be silenced.  However, that sense of hope was fading, and stood in contrast to the growing sense of worry now felt across the country.  Today, Libya remained without a formally endorsed Government and implementation of the Political Agreement had stalled because some parties persisted in not upholding their commitments.

The House of Representatives must fulfil its obligations and hold a vote on endorsing the Government of National Accord, he emphasized.  Given the scale of its problems, the country must have a functioning Government, ministries and bureaucracy.  The rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation and escalating military tensions linked to the fight against Da’esh required boldness, determination and decisiveness, he said, stressing that clear lines and principles would be needed if there was to be any hope of the Libyan people escaping the situation currently engulfing their country.

He went on to underline that the Libyan Political Agreement, as singed on 17 December 2015, should remain the sole legitimate framework for managing the remainder of national political transition until a permanent constitution could be adopted.  Immediate steps were needed to ensure that shortages in cash availability, food and electricity were addressed in a satisfactory manner, without further delay.  Averting hostilities between different Libyan security actors involved in the fight against Da’esh required an inclusive interim security architecture, including temporary command-and-control arrangements for the army.

There had been considerable recent progress in the fight against Da’esh, he said, adding that he nevertheless remained concerned about the military situation.  The possibility of renewed military escalation should be a matter of grave concern for all.  “Libyans must not fight against each other”, he emphasized.  “They must fight united against their common enemy.”

Noting that Libya was awash with weapons to the tune of some 20 million pieces of weaponry in a land of 6 million people, he said those weapons had not fallen from the sky, but increasingly came in by land and sea, through illegal shipments that served to add fuel to the conflict.  Such shipments must end if there was to be any serious hope of restoring peace.  All military actors in Libya must act within the bounds of international law, and those who did not, must be held accountable.  Libya needed the International Criminal Court now more than ever, he said, adding that there was also urgent need for UNSMIL to re-establish its presence.  With requests for assistance likely to increase as Government ministries and bureaucracies became functional again, he said it was essential for UNSMIL operations to be on the ground and ready to meet the immediate needs and priorities of Libyans.

Ramlan Bin Ibrahim (Malaysia), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011), said that, between 3 March and 6 June, that body had met three times in informal consultations.  On 27 April, it had added to its Sanctions List a vessel attempting illicitly to export crude oil from Libya, after which the vessel had returned to Libya and off-loaded its cargo at the port of Zawiya.

Promptly thereafter, he said, pursuant to a delisting request submitted by the flag State on 9 May, and having received an indication from the Permanent Mission of Libya to the United Nations that it had no objection to the vessel’s delisting, the Committee had removed the vessel from its Sanctions List on 12 May, marking the first application of resolution 2146 (2014) involving cooperation between Member States and the Committee, as well as assistance from the Panel of Experts.

He said issues raised during informal consultations on 3 March on the final report and recommendations of the Panel of Experts included violations of the arms embargo, the flow of foreign terrorist fighters into Libya, the targeting of individuals who could be subject to Security Council sanctions, and the Panel’s limited access to the country.

Of the 26 recommendations, he said, the Committee had agreed to take follow-up action on four and revert to 10 at a later stage.  One recommendation, on the designation of individuals, first required action by a sponsoring Member State, while another, pertaining to the adoption of an implementation assistance notice on an assets freeze, required the lifting of a Committee member’s hold.  Yet, another, concerned with managing the expert groups, was deemed as falling outside the Committee’s mandate, he said, adding that the nine remaining recommendations were addressed to the Council.

On 15 March, he reported, the Committee had approved a notification submitted by the United Kingdom, in relation to the asset freeze measure, after the lifting of a hold placed by a Committee member.  On 6 April and 16 May, the Committee had received from the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, proposals for candidates to serve on the Panel of Experts, having approved five experts on 28 April and a sixth on 23 May.  The Committee had also met twice on 3 June, the first time to hear a presentation by the newly appointed Panel of Experts on its work programme, and the second time in follow-up to a recommendation to hold a joint discussion with the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee.

Ibrahim Dabbashi (Libya) expressed hope that UNSMIL would move to Tripoli and advance implementation of the Libyan Political Agreement.  Noting that the Council recognized the Government of National Accord as the country’s sole Government, he said its success would hinge on robust implementation of the Political Agreement, starting with security arrangements and the creation of fully equipped armed force, enjoying full international support, to secure Tripoli.  Such efforts would allow the Government to move freely within the capital.

Taking issue with parts of the Secretary-General’s report relating to the political scenario in Libya, he said that his delegation had outlined its’s concerns in a 2 June letter to the Council and the Secretary-General.  The Secretariat should refrain from using unrealistic terms and applying fictitious names to known entities, thereby complicating the political situation, he emphasized.  For example, it was premature to speak of forces controlled by the Government of National Accord, as mentioned in paragraph 82 of the report, he said, noting that such groups operated outside State control.  The Government must put a plan in place that would allow it a monopoly over the use of force, including in the development of professional State security institutions, as outlined in the Political Agreement.

In addition, he said, armed groups must sign a binding accord declaring their support for the Political Agreement, including the security arrangements, and making it clear that they would disarm and join State institutions.  Given the absence of such arrangements, however, the groups could threaten the Government of National Accord, he warned.  Moreover, the Government’s Presidency Council needed a database of armed groups.  UNSMIL, as the key sponsor of the political agreement, must respond to violations of the accord, be more actively involved and respond more forcefully by providing proposals and advice, he stressed.  “We need its advice in the absence of expertise and institutions in the State.”  Implementation of the Libyan Political Agreement and support for State bodies must be at the heart of UNSMIL’s mandate, he said.  In sum, the Presidency Council could only succeed if its members agreed to work in a unified manner.

The meeting started at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 3:41 p.m.

For information media. Not an official record.