Secretary-General's remarks at press conference (see below for Q&A)
Tripoli, Libya, 2 November 2011SG: Mr. Chairman of the National Transitional Council, Mr. President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, citizens of Libya, As-salamu alaykum!
It is a great honour for me to be visiting at this historic time in Libya – a liberated and new Libya, together with the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations. We are here together to send our strong support and admiration and respect for all your heroic struggles to achieve democracy and freedom.
I salute the brave people of Libya.
You have paid a heavy price for freedom. To the families of those who died in liberating your country, please accept my deepest condolences and sympathy.
To the many thousand people who have been wounded, I wish you all a speedy recovery and happiness. Your injuries are a testament to your courage and determination.
I have just had a good and very productive meeting with Chairman Jalil of the National Transitional Council and the new Prime Minister, [Abdulrahim] el-Keib. This meeting, together with the two leaders and all the members of the National Transitional Council was very productive and useful for us to know how we can – the United Nations – can help the Libyan people in overcoming all the challenges lying ahead after this liberation.
All expressed a clear commitment to building a democratic Libya, grounded in respect for human rights and the dignity of every woman, man and child.
The new Libya aspires to be a nation free from fear, free from injustice and free from the oppression of the past.
The United Nations will be your partner in turning those hopes to reality.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and gentlemen,
The path to democracy is not easy. Building a state with effective and accountable institutions takes time.
But the Libyan people have shown that they have the skills, resources, determination and will to rise to these challenges.
In my remarks to the NTC, I said frankly that there is no magic formula, no one size that fits all. But there is at least one common denominator in any solid democracy - that is inclusiveness and dialogue.
As Libya moves forward, it is critical that you find consensus on major issues, that you remain united. That, in turn, will require a great deal of pragmatism and compromise, especially during this very important initial phase.
We spoke at length about public security and the need to secure the arsenals of the previous regime, particularly stocks of shoulder-fired missiles and chemical and biological weapons.
And we recognized the centrality of human rights and the rule of law. Issues of transnational justice must be resolved with wisdom and restraint. It is important to hold perpetrators of human rights crimes to account, as well as to promote national reconciliation.
Women and young people helped win the revolution. They deserve to participate fully in the decisions and emerging institutions that will shape their future.
The role of civil society and non-governmental organizations is key. Very shortly, I will have a meeting with a number of their representatives of civil society.
The United Nations stands ready to support the Libyan people in all the areas we discussed: elections, a new constitution, human rights, public security and the control of weapons.
Libyans inspired the world in throwing off tyranny.
In building a future of peace and dignity for all, I am confident that you will inspire the world once again.
Let me repeat: the United Nations is here to help – we are ready to provide all necessary technical assistance an logistics in every way we can, in any way you choose.
That is why we have come to Tripoli. And today, I say to you from the heart: MABROUK LIBYA AL-HURRA!
Q: [in Arabic]
SG: The elections which will be held with a preparation of eight months will be historically most important for the future of Libya. This is going to be the first ever election in Libya, and therefore I have emphasized to the Chairman and Prime Minister that this election must be conducted in a most credible, democratic, and peaceful way. The United Nations is ready to provide all technical assistance. The United Nations has deployed already electoral experts. We have accumulated experience in monitoring and helping to conduct elections all around the world. We have many successes in that. I am going to work very closely, and my Special Representative, Ian Martin, will continue to discuss this matter, so that this election will be conducted in a peaceful and credible way so that they will be able to elect their representatives who will also draft the Constitution. It is a very important political milestone.
At the same time, I have urged the Chairman of the NTC that it is crucially important to engage in inclusive dialogue with all the people of Libya.
SG: I have listened very carefully. In our meeting with the members of the National Transitional Council about the importance and necessity about having these frozen assets come to the Libyan people and Government. I believe that should be done. I will bring this matter to the attention of the Security Council members when I return [to New York]. In fact, in the course of your struggle, some of the Member States have unfrozen these assets and returned to the Libyan people, the NTC. This, I will discuss with the Security Council members.
Q: [in Arabic]
SG: There are many ways the international community can and should assist, help the Libyan people in going ahead, in addressing the many challenges which we have outlined. There are issues of establishing public security, establishing rule of law and establishing transitional justice systems and protecting human rights, providing social and economic support, humanitarian assistance, and reconciliation of the Libyan people. Those are very important issues which the Libyan Government and people should promote.
The international community is ready. During the course of the last several months, while you were fighting for freedom, the international community helped in various ways, including with military operations. The Security Council has taken swift and decisive action by adopting resolutions 1970 and 1973 - establishing the no-fly zone, and allowing all necessary measures. That is the way you have been able to realise your dreams to establish a free and democratic country – the new Libya. That is why the United Nations has deployed a United Nations Support Mission in Libya – UNSMIL – led by Mr. Ian Martin, my Special Representative. They will work very closely with the members of the NTC and the new interim government to be led by Prime Minister el-Keib in all aspects of your issues.
Q: A question for Mr. Ban please, you raised concerns about nuclear material and weapons arsenals. Are you able to give us any more detail as to what role the UN is playing in Libya in trying to identify and [inaudible]?
SG: The former regime under Qadhafi has reported to relevant international United Nations organizations on nuclear materials as well as chemical weapons. In the course of this crisis there had been some concerns raised about the accountability of these important, very serious materials, particular on chemical weapons and nuclear materials.
I have raised this issue to Chairman Jalil several times already in my previous meetings. I discussed with the Security Council. The Security Council last week, by a unanimous decision, adopted a resolution again expressing their concerns as well as emphasizing the importance of making accountability of these issues. I am told, and I am aware that the OPCW and the IAEA, they will send their expert team to Libya, and I am also very much encouraged by the strong commitment and assurances by the NTC Chairman and the Libyan Government that they will ensure that these materials will be securely counted, and [on] that we will continue to work. I raised this issue again today. It is very important that all these materials should be very carefully and without any failing secured.
Q: Don't you think that it is about time for the UN to move in Syria and save Syrian peoples' lives, as you did for Libyans?
SG: Since the beginning of this year, the people of the Middle East and North Africa have seen remarkable developments of the situation in their very ardent and genuine aspirations to realise freedom and to see greater participatory democracy. People have achieved in Tunisia, Egypt, and finally in Libya. But people are still struggling to realize their dreams of living in a country without fear of being oppressed. Syria is a source of great concern to countries at this time.
The international community – the United Nations and myself and many leaders - particularly the leaders of the League of Arab States, have been expressing their deep concerns to the current situation in Syria.
I am aware that the League of Arab States and the Syrian Government have made an agreement and understanding. I hope that this agreement will be implemented without any delay. People have been suffering too much, too long, in Syria. More than 3,000 people have been killed. It is a totally unacceptable situation. There should be accountability and their human rights must be protected. Killing Syrian people must stop immediately. That is what I have been speaking out. That is what I have been discussing with President Assad. He has not kept his promises. Now that it is reported that he has agreed with the League of Arab States, he must implement as soon as possible [inaudible].