Secretary-General, Addressing Paris International Conference, Stresses Need to Tackle Immediate Humanitarian Challenge in Libya

1 September 2011

Secretary-General, Addressing Paris International Conference, Stresses Need to Tackle Immediate Humanitarian Challenge in Libya

1 September 2011
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General, Addressing Paris International Conference, Stresses Need


to Tackle Immediate Humanitarian Challenge in Libya


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the International Conference in Support of the New Libya, in Paris, today, 1 September:

Je remercie le Président français Nicolas Sarkozy et le Premier Ministre britannique David Cameron d’avoir organisé cette réunion qui intervient à un moment crucial.

Notre réunion aujourd’hui à Paris me rappelle la première réunion qu’a convoquée le Président Sarkozy alors qu’une tragédie humanitaire qui risquait d’être catastrophique, était sur le point de se dérouler à Benghazi.  Cette réunion a été le point de départ de l’action internationale en vue de prévenir un massacre de civils libyens.  Je suis convaincu que notre réunion aujourd’hui aboutira à un consensus tout aussi important pour la période à venir.

Our most immediate challenge is humanitarian.  Roughly 860,000 people have left the country since February, including skilled guest workers.  Public services are under severe strain, including hospitals and clinics, and there is a major water shortage.

Meanwhile, sporadic fighting continues, particularly in the country’s south.

Looking beyond the immediate humanitarian crisis, it will be essential to work closely with the Libyan leadership to identify their needs and priorities.  Once those needs are identified, we will have to act in harmony and in a coordinated manner to ensure effective, collective action.

During the past few weeks, even today in Paris, my advisers and I have conferred with the leaders of the National Transitional Council.  My Special Envoy and my Special Adviser have also been meeting with them.

Last Friday, I also hosted a meeting of leading representatives of the African Union, the European Union, the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.  All agreed that, at this critical moment, the international community must come together with an effective, well-coordinated programme of action.  And I thank you very much for your support.

All agreed, as well, that the United Nations should lead that effort.  Those preparations are well underway, led by my Special Adviser for Post-conflict Planning, Ian Martin.

There are three principles which will govern that work.  First, national ownership.  The future destiny of Libya must firmly rest in the hands of the Libyan people.  Second, speed of response.  It is essential that the international community respond in the moment of need, not weeks or months down the road.

The National Transitional Council has identified a number of areas.  These include:  first, leading inclusive political dialogue to promote national reconciliation, and determine the constitution-making and electoral process; second, extending State authority, including through strengthening emerging accountable institutions and the restoration of public services; third, protecting human rights, particularly for vulnerable groups, and supporting transitional justice.  I am encouraged by reassurances made today by the National Transitional Council on these areas; fourth, taking immediate steps to initiate economic recovery; fifth, coordinating support that may be requested from other multilateral and bilateral actors.

I outlined those priorities for you in my letter to you of 30 August and look forward to our common and decisive action today.

Our third principle: effective coordination.  Our most important job will be to ensure that multilateral, regional and bilateral efforts are complementary and correspond to Libyan wishes.  Our on-the-ground teams will work closely with the country’s leadership to ensure that confusion is avoided and that there is no duplication of effort, and that time and financial resources are not wasted.

I intend to work closely with the Security Council in crafting a mandate for a United Nations mission, with the express aim of beginning operations with minimum delay.  And I count on members of the Security Council to give us a mandate as soon as possible.

In the meantime, my humanitarian coordinator is today on the ground in Tripoli already.  My Special Adviser, Mr. Martin, will travel to Tripoli immediately after this meeting to begin on-ground planning for our operations.

And, before I conclude, I would like to pay tribute to Mr. [Abdel-Elah] al-Khatib, my Special Envoy, who laboured so diligently the past months to achieve a negotiated solution to the conflict, and to thank all of you for your support to his efforts.

Enfin, je souhaite vous informer que j’ai l’intention de tous vous inviter à une réunion de haut-niveau sur la Libye le 20 septembre prochain en marge de la Soixante-sixième session de l’Assemblée générale. 

Cette réunion sera l’occasion de faire le point sur la situation et de calibrer nos efforts en appui de la Libye nouvelle et de ses citoyens.  Les Nations Unies sont prêtes.  Je compte sur votre plein soutien.

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