United Nations Mission in Libya Anchored in Unbiased Engagement as Country Edges Closer to Protracted Conflict, Security Council Told

15 September 2014

United Nations Mission in Libya Anchored in Unbiased Engagement as Country Edges Closer to Protracted Conflict, Security Council Told

15 September 2014
Security Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

7264th Meeting (AM)

United Nations Mission in Libya Anchored in Unbiased Engagement as Country

Edges Closer to Protracted Conflict, Security Council Told


Permanent Representative Speaks Following Briefings

By Secretary-General’s Envoy, Sanctions Committee Chair

Describing a crisis situation in Libya as deteriorating towards chaos, the Secretary-General's new Special Representative, briefing the Security Council, pledged the perseverance of the United Nations in efforts to engage the parties in a political solution to end the factional armed violence.

"Today, we find ourselves at a critical moment in Libya's democratic transition:  a faltering political process that has brought the country closer to the brink of protracted conflict and civil strife," Bernardino León said, noting that the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), which he heads, would mark its third anniversary tomorrow in an atmosphere far from the initial optimism that followed the beginning of the transition from the ousted Qadhafi regime.

In a meeting that also heard from the chair of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee, Olivier Nduhungirehe of Rwanda, as well as the representative of Libya, Ibrahim Dabbashi, Mr. León introduced the Secretary-General's latest report on the situation, (document S/2014/653), which expresses alarm at " Libya's descent into political uncertainty", and calls for urgent efforts to bring about political dialogue to resolve the crisis.

He said tens of thousands of civilians had fled their homes in areas around the capital of Tripoli, with indiscriminate shelling having killed an unknown number and a severe shortage of medical supplies.  Renewed military confrontations in Benghazi in the east threatened an increased toll on civilians, as well.  Human rights abuses were rampant, along with intimidation of Government officials and civil society activists.  The Mission's appeals for an immediate halt to military operations and humanitarian access had gone unheeded.

"Nevertheless, the United Nations remained committed to its mission in Libya and will continue to impress upon all Libyans the need for progress in overcoming their differences through dialogue," he said, adding, "I believe this is the only way to spare the country further chaos and violence and to prevent it from becoming a magnet for extremist and terrorist groups."

Mr. León said that the Mission would remain solidly anchored in the principles of unbiased engagement with all parties.  In that vein, he reported that, since assuming his duties just two weeks ago, he had been in contact with Libyans across the political spectrum.  All leaders acknowledged a "profound sense of mistrust", but also realized the need to overcome differences, end armed hostilities and resume the political process as soon as possible.

He said that he had stressed to all parties that a political consensus must be based on the country's constitutional declaration, the democratic process, the 25 June legislative elections an end to incitement and provocation, and the unequivocal rejection of terrorism, as well as inclusivity.  That would have to be accompanied with security steps to enable the State to assert its control over vital installations and throughout the territory without the threat of armed intimidation.  "There can be no compromise on these principles," he asserted.

Turning to the humanitarian response, Mr. León said that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP) had already assisted tens of thousands of internally displaced persons, and the International Organization for Migration had taken steps to repatriate thousands of stranded migrants.  United Nations teams had also assessed the threats of explosive remnants of war in Tripoli; the deployment of teams for awareness and renewal was being considered.

In his briefing on the Sanctions Committee, Mr. Nduhungirehe said the Panel of Experts' interim report to the Council highlighted indications that large quantities of military materiel had reached militias, with potential violations of the arms embargo, under investigation by the Panel.  Weapons continued to be trafficked out of Libya, as well.

He said that the Panel had determined that one person had violated a travel ban, with another possible violation being investigated.  Assets subjected to freezing were held under false names and by “front” companies, with States lacking implementation capacities related to assets freeze measures.  In its report, the Panel detailed efforts to trace potential hidden assets and to investigate funding of armed groups, thereby gathering information on individuals for possible designation under the new criteria of resolution 2174 (2014).

The Panel presented 19 recommendations, he said, four of which were directed at the Security Council, 14 at the Committee and one to the Libyan Government.  One Committee member had called for clear identification of the origins of arms flows and regretted Member States’ lack of cooperation in that regard.

Follow-up was agreed on 15 recommendations, with a note verbale and press release covering issues related to the arms embargo, and an invitation extended to Libya and its neighbours to attend a Committee meeting to discuss sanctions implementation challenges.  Agreement on follow-up to four recommendations was still pending and would be addressed in the Panel's interim report.

Also in the reporting period, action by the Committee had included updating its List of Individuals and Entities, approval of a new regional expert, provision of guidance to Member States, as requested, regarding the scope of the weapons ban, as well as consideration of exemptions and incomplete notifications.

Taking the floor following those briefings, Libya’s representative, Ibrahim Dabbashi, said that the fratricidal war taking place in Tripoli and its suburbs had claimed more than 500 lives and injured many more, had destroyed infrastructure worth billions and torn the social fabric to shreds, with torture, public hangings and other abuses.  The Mufti and his gang were responsible, he said, adding that the Libyan Dawn coalition was using heavy weapons in its campaigns.

He said that UNSMIL existed to support the legitimate Libyan authorities and to assist them to put an end to the fighting and to demobilise all armed groups.  For that reason, it was not acceptable to treat the illegal armed groups on the same footing as the mechanisms of the legitimate Government.  Such equal treatment would be a violation of the Mission's mandate and accompanying resolutions, and an obstacle to ending the crisis.

"The parliament is the Government," Mr. Dabbashi stressed, saying it was the result of free and fair elections.  He hoped that the Government’s legitimate authority would be enshrined as such throughout the country.  The Government had tried to hold dialogue with armed groups over the past three years, but had not been able to make progress.  It would not now negotiate on any of their demands.  The only subject of dialogue now could be how to demobilize the groups and integrate them into legitimate institutions.

In addition, he said, the judicial system would have to bring to justice all those who had committed crimes.  If the groups did not withdraw from cities and yield to State authority, the use of force might be required, with assistance from the international community.

Turning to the arms embargo, he said that the sanctions measures as they were currently being applied prevented the national army from being adequately equipped to face the terrorists and other armed groups, which, he said, were getting weapons from at least two countries through the airports they controlled.  In that regard, he said that the focal point mechanism was problematic.  The Libyan Government would study in detail the Panel of Experts’ report, he added.

The meeting started at 10:09 a.m. and ended at 10:52 a.m.

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