Permanent Representative Blames Gridlock on Squabbling Political Stakeholders
Despite some important advances in Libya, not nearly enough progress had been made in implementing the political accord forged last year, the United Nations top envoy to the country told the Security Council today, stressing that terrorism remained a threat, living conditions were poor and armed groups continued to abuse human rights with impunity.
Positive developments included joint efforts by the Presidency Council and Libyan economic institutions to disburse the 37.5 billion Libyan-dinar budget for 2017 so that State institutions could deliver basic services, said Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). Daily oil production had increased to more than 700,000 barrels, pumping much-needed revenue into the Libyan economy, and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) had been driven from the country.
“Despite these gains, Libyans are not in a position to address the root causes of divisions,” he said, stressing that “2017 must be a year of decisions and political breakthrough” and of national reconciliation to heal the wounds of years of conflict and oppression. That included decisions on possible amendments to the Libyan Political Agreement regarding the Supreme Commandership of the army, the army chain of command, particularly the role of General Khalifa Belqasim Haftar, and the future composition and role of the Presidency Council, he said.
In addition, decisions were also needed on forming a strong army and police force, best use of oil and gas-export revenues, and ending the dire humanitarian situation, he said. “I am confident that a format will be found in the next weeks within which these questions can be decided upon and recommendations can be put forth for approval to the relevant institutions.”
A collective effort was needed, with all Libyan institutions upholding their responsibility to implement the Agreement and endorse the Government of National Unity, he said, urging the House of Representatives to conclude deliberations on that endorsement and recognizing efforts by neighbouring States and regional organizations to foster consensus.
The citizens of Libya deserved security and an end to rampant crime and lawlessness, he said. National security institutions must be empowered and regional border security improved to deter terrorists, criminal gangs and both human and weapons traffickers exploiting the security vacuum. Moreover, the plight of economic migrants, many suffering ill treatment and death in detention centres, must be addressed. UNSMIL and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had submitted recommendations to the Libyan authorities and the international community, he said, encouraging further efforts to save migrants fleeing by sea, combat human trafficking and train the Libyan Coast Guard.
Elbio Rosselli (Uruguay) expressed hope that protecting migrants would become a priority and encouraged UNSMIL to continue working with the Government of National Accord. He asked for more information on the human rights abuses of migrants, including the number of attacks and victims. He also expressed concern about the humanitarian crisis, citing figures from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that more than 1 million people were in need of aid. For its part, UNSMIL must adapt to the political and operational situation on the ground.
Furthermore, he expressed regret the slow pace of the political transition, which had received minimal support. It was crucial that the Presidency Council obtain the broad public backing required for full legitimacy. He was encouraged, however, by progress in defeating Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) in Sirte and Benghazi and the statement by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that it had completed work in helping Libya destroy its chemical arsenal in compliance with Council resolution 2298 (2016).
Sacha Sergio Llorentty Solíz (Bolivia), also expressing concern over the lack of significant progress in implementing the political accord, encouraged the Libyan Government and people to continue their struggle against Da’esh. He welcomed the Memorandum of Understanding signed last week by Libya and Italy to fight migrant trafficking and support refugees, noting that more than 330,000 migrants had fled since the conflict began in 2011. Last year alone, 4,218 of those fleeing had drowned. A political solution to address the root causes of the problem was essential and the international community must learn from the past. Years after the death of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi thousands of Libyans continued to die because of the interventionist and regime-change policies that had led to the resurgence of ISIL and regional instability, he stressed.
Elmahdi Elmajerbi (Libya) said people’s suffering escalated daily due to divisions among political stakeholders and he expressed hope in regional and international efforts to end it. The Neighbouring States Conference on 21 January in Cairo had fostered stability and social cohesion. He also commended the communiqué from the African Union high-level committee meeting on 27 January in Brazzaville that called on Libyan parties to reach consensus on amending the Libyan Political Agreement, if necessary. The success of the Government of National Accord depended on that agreement’s implementation. Further, unity among the army and police was needed to secure Libya’s cities and borders, and tackle terrorism and illegal migration. Those entities must be exempted from the United Nations arms embargo so they could be supplied with weapons and necessary equipment.
The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 10:45 a.m.