Deputy Secretary-General Spells out Principles for Post-conflict Assistance in Remarks to African Union High-Level Ad Hoc Committee on Libya

26 August 2011

Deputy Secretary-General Spells out Principles for Post-conflict Assistance in Remarks to African Union High-Level Ad Hoc Committee on Libya

26 August 2011
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Deputy Secretary-General Spells out Principles for Post-conflict Assistance


in Remarks to African Union High-Level Ad Hoc Committee on Libya


Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks to the African Union High-Level Ad Hoc Committee on Libya, in Addis Ababa on 25 August:

I would like to congratulate the African Union High-Level Ad Hoc Committee for the leadership which you have shown from the inception of the crisis in Libya.  Your efforts have remained clearly aimed at finding a peaceful solution that would end the suffering of the Libyan people and bring all sides together.  I am here tonight to personally convey the Secretary-General’s appreciation for the good cooperation we have enjoyed in order to help our Libyan brothers and sisters end the conflict that has traumatized so many innocent people.

Since the outbreak of the conflict in Libya, the United Nations had positioned itself at the forefront of the mediation efforts aimed at helping the people of Libya to find a peaceful and negotiated solution to the conflict in the country.  This was the context in which, since the crisis erupted six months ago, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Libya, Abdel-Elah al-Khatib, visited Libya on at least 12 occasions.  His destinations included Tripoli, Benghazi and Tobruk, where he met with officials of the regime and representatives of the National Transitional Council (NTC).  He made every effort to meet with both sides in other countries as well.

Though he regrets not being here today, he has endeavoured to continue engaging with the leadership of the African Union, African Union High-Level Ad Hoc Committee and members of the African Union.  During Mr. al-Khatib’s last visit to Libya on 25 July, it became very clear that in spite of all of our efforts, neither side on the ground was persuaded on the logic of peace.  As events on the ground proved last week, the military option became the choice option of the parties.  The posturing by both sides had been fairly consistent since the beginning of these discussions.  Both sides were willing to talk, but they were still emphasizing maximum demands at that point and patience was clearly required before detailed discussion could begin.

For his part, the Secretary-General has remained preoccupied with the efforts to end the conflict in Libya.  Following recent developments in the fighting on the ground, he has intensified his efforts by engaging with world leaders, including the Libyan authorities.  In a recent phone call to the Chairman of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the Secretary-General appealed to him to focus on the values of tolerance, inclusiveness, national unity and reconciliation.  He also urged the NTC to protect all people in Libya and noted, in particular, the responsibility to protect diplomatic premises and to avoid further loss of life.  Mr. Jalil emphasized the essential role the UN would have to play in the post-conflict period and noted the particular importance of unfreezing Libyan assets quickly when the new Government came to power to allow it to govern and provide for the welfare of its people.

In light of recent development in Libya and the dire need for the international community to continue to enhance coordination and ensure cooperation to effectively meet the needs and priorities of the Libyans, the Secretary-General is convening a conference of heads of regional organizations tomorrow in New York.  Senior representatives from the African Union, the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the European Union will participate to develop ways in which we can work together on the post-conflict phase in Libya.  In view of the important role of the African Union in contributing to ongoing international efforts to find a lasting solution to the situation in Libya, the Secretary-General has underscored the utmost importance of the participation of the African Union in the forthcoming meeting.

There is a growing recognition of the fact that the crisis in Libya has entered into a critical phase, which heralds the beginning of a new chapter.  The future of Libya must be led and owned by the Libyan people themselves.  Their needs and priorities for national unity, reconciliation and inclusiveness must remain the fundamental foundation of our efforts in the transitional period.  Therefore, we must all continue to unite in encouraging Libyans to make way for a smooth transition and sustainable peace throughout the country.

In this respect, the role of the international community, regional organizations, particularly the African Union, in contributing to ongoing international efforts to find a lasting solution to the situation in Libya is of utmost significance and importance.  With this in mind, the Secretary-General has also spoken to many world leaders on preparations to help the Libyan people construct a new democratic country.  Upon the request of the Libyan people and once mandated by the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations stands ready to respond to the requests Libya may make for post-conflict assistance.

Today in Istanbul, the Special Adviser of the United Nations Secretary-General to coordinate post-conflict planning for Libya, Ian Martin, outlined three principles which the UN will apply in the post-conflict assistance to Libya.  The first principle is that of national ownership.  Mr. Khatib and Mr. Martin met in Doha on 23 August with NTC representatives to explore possible areas of future assistance to the Libyan people.  During the discussions and in their public statements, the NTC has expressed its commitment to move quickly towards democratic legitimacy through an early electoral process and the development of a new Constitution, and outlined key areas where they will need assistance.

The second principle is the speed of response and rapid delivery.  Mr. Martin and his team have been engaged in a preparatory process to enable the UN to respond in a swift manner to requests for assistance by Libyan authorities.  In view of our consultations to date, it appears that this assistance will focus on restoring public security and order, and promoting the rule of law; leading inclusive political dialogue, promoting national reconciliation and determining the constitution-making and electoral process; extending State authority, including through strengthening emerging accountable institutions and the restoration of public services; protecting human rights, particularly for vulnerable groups, and supporting transitional justice; taking the immediate steps required to initiate economic recovery; and coordinating support that may be requested from other multilateral and bilateral actors.

The third principle he noted was the importance of effective coordination of international assistance in response to Libyan requests.  A key role for the United Nations will be to support bilateral and regional efforts.  As a key strategic partner, the African Union will have a critical role to play in this process.

Based on these principles, the first area in which we could work together is to ensure the delivery of humanitarian assistance, with medical aid to wounded and vulnerable a high priority, as well as the maintenance of essential health, water and food-distribution services.  In addition, action will be necessary regarding refugees, third-country nationals, internally displaced people and migrants who are stranded in Libya and would like to leave.

As Libya emerges from this conflict, much work will be needed in economic reconstruction, which could be the second area of cooperation.  In addition, neighbouring countries face the dual burden of a drop in remittances and the need to reintegrate thousands of former expatriates.  Therefore, we must look to the future to facilitate the return of workers who have left Libya and would like to return, especially from sub-Saharan Africa.

The third area of cooperation could revolve around security issues.  While ensuring security within Libya is clearly the responsibility of Libyan authorities, the international community must assist in mitigating the impact of the conflict in the region, bearing in mind the potential risk of the proliferation of weapons and the persistent activities of terrorist groups in the Sahel.

In the past, the African Union and United Nations have collaborated in many efforts to ensure transparent and inclusive electoral processes, and this is clearly an area that will be of utmost importance in the transition period.  This is also an area of potential collaboration.

We must all unite in encouraging Libyans to make way for a smooth transition and sustainable peace throughout the country.  We should also seek and obtain assurances from the new leadership in the country that extreme care would be taken to protect people and public institutions, and to maintain law and order in the aftermath of the conflict.  Without a doubt, conclusions from your discussions tonight in Addis Ababa will further strengthen our collective and coordinated approach and response.

We must continue to enhance coordination through the United Nations in order to effectively meet the needs and priorities of the Libyan people as they undergo a difficult transition.  We need to adopt a unified approach to find a lasting solution to the crisis in Libya and together help the people of Libya to achieve their aspirations.

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