While political space had been opened and progress was being made in the fight against terrorism, the political divisions underlying the conflict were deepening, the Security Council heard today during a briefing on the latest developments in Libya.
“Today more than ever, strong action is needed to convince Libyan stakeholders to build institutions that are open, participatory and able to address the needs of all of its citizens,” said Martin Kobler, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Mission in that country, in his briefing to the Council.
Despite the country’s immense natural resources and a young population eager to reshape its future, Libyan men and women had struggled to cover the rising costs of basic necessities, he said. It was time that the people of Libya join forces to urgently address the country’s political, security and economic problems.
Drawing attention to the worrying security situation, he said that on the eve of Eid al-Adha, the fragile peace in Libya’s oil crescent had suffered a fierce blow by the national army. He stressed that such developments would hinder oil exports, deprive Libya of its only source of income, and increase the division of the country.
“Libyan natural resources belong to all Libyans,” he said, stressing that they must be protected and exported legally under the authority of the Presidency Council. Recalling that he had urged all parties to avoid inflicting any damage to the oil facilities, he said that differences must be resolved through dialogue, not military force.
On a positive note, forces loyal to the Presidency Council had made progress to oust Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham (ISIS) from its last remaining stronghold in Libya. While expressing hope that ISIS would no longer hold territory in the country, the terrorist threat would remain and require continued vigilance.
Civilian and military authority must be established and security must be restored in Sirte, he continued. Recalling the meeting to develop a plan after its liberation, he emphasized that the reconstruction efforts in the area must be a model case.
Among others, he stressed that Libya still remained a launch pad for thousands of migrants. In fact, this year, 112,000 migrants had reached Italy’s shores, while 3,000 migrants had drowned and many more had died in the desert. “The senseless loss of so many human lives is simply unacceptable,” he said, and added, “Both the fight against terrorism and the flow of migrants were symptoms of Libya’s lack of unified and effective security institutions.”
On the security situation in Tripoli, he said that it remained fragile. In that context, he welcomed the nomination of the commanders of the new Presidential Guard. He said it was the first step in bringing the new Libyan security units under the full authority of the Presidency Council.
Turning to political developments, he noted that the House of Representatives had rejected the current Government of National Accord. However, that decision was a new opening for the Presidency Council to solicit the endorsement of a unity Government. It was essential that authorities worked together towards meeting that milestone. Although there were differences of opinion on the Libyan Political Agreement, even critics and opponents recognized its framework and value. It remained the only way forward in Libya’s transition.
Regarding national reconciliation, he said that the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) had started a round of discussions with Libyan and international experts. It was the first step towards healing the wounds of the past, he said, calling upon the international community to help Libyans build a new future together.
“No reconciliation will succeed if the next generation does not actively participate,” he said, describing brain drain as a serious problem for the country. One inspiring example of reconciliation, however, was the agreement signed between representatives of the cities of Misrata and Tawergha on 31 August. After many years, the internally displaced would finally be able to return to their homes before the end of the year.
On the economic situation, he said that the efforts could succeed if Libyans address the country’s growing crisis. “Libya is a resource-rich country, but its economy is on the road to collapse,” he added. Oil production was at its lowest point ever with only about 200,000 barrels per day, compared to 1.4 million barrels after the revolution. Government spending on salaries and subsidies was at 93 per cent of its total budget, he said, emphasizing that the country was running a 75 per cent budget deficit.
As the situation had resulted in strict capital controls and the lack of liquidity, Libyans were frustrated that they could not access their money, and that the currency was rapidly losing its value.
Ramlan Bin Ibrahim (Malaysia), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya, described issues dealt with by it over the reporting period of 7 June to 14 September 2016. Those included a 15 June notification received under the arms embargo pursuant to paragraph 13 (b) of resolution 2009 (2011), in relation to which the Committee did not take a negative decision.
The Committee, he said, received a letter on 7 July from the Coordinator of the Panel of Experts on Libya, conveying its contribution to the report requested by resolution 2292 (2016) on the threat posed to Libya and neighbouring countries, including off the coast of Libya, by foreign terrorist fighters. The Committee also received another letter from the Coordinator on 14 July, proposing updates to its implementation assistance notice three (3).
On 15 July, he continued, the Committee received a letter from the Permanent Representative of Libya to the United Nations informing it about the focal point pursuant to paragraph 6 of resolution 2278 (2016). The Committee acknowledged that information on 28 July and invited the focal point to brief it.
The Committee received an implementation report pursuant to paragraph 25 of resolution 1970 (2011) from the Permanent Representative of the Netherlands on 25 August, and, on 23 August, it approved a request for extension of a travel ban exemption for an additional six months, he noted. Finally, on 29 August, the Committee received a notification under the asset freeze measures pursuant to paragraph 19 (a) of resolution 1970 (2011), to which it did not object.
The meeting began at 3:03 p.m. and ended at 3:25 p.m.