The National Conference on the future of Libya, to be held in April, presents a crucial opportunity for all parties to set aside their differences, unite, avoid war and choose a path of peace and prosperity, the Secretary‑General’s Special Representative for that country told the Security Council today.
“There is much at stake,” emphasized Ghassan Salamé, who is also Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), briefing via video‑teleconference from Tripoli. “If the opportunity presented by the National Conference is not seized, then we will be faced with only two possible options: prolonged stalemate or conflict.”
Urging the international community to put pressure on all the parties to agree on a formula to conclude eight years of transition in Libya, he said participants in the forthcoming gathering will choose whether to endorse the National Charter that emerged from a consultative process, or to chart a road map leading to either simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections or phased elections.
Participants will also recommend how to deal with the draft Constitution produced by the Constitutional Drafting Assembly, he continued. “The days ahead will prove foundational to the years ahead for Libyans and the region at large,” he added, calling upon Libyans to come together and avoid obstruction, incitement, and inflammatory and alienating rhetoric. The Mission, for its part, is working with many parties to ensure that the National Conference is as inclusive as possible, he stressed.
As Council members took the floor, Equatorial Guinea’s representative said the situation in Libya is a grave concern for the entire African continent. Welcoming a recent initiative of the African Union, he added that it is perhaps time for a different approach that leads to elections by the end of 2019, and an inclusive national forum on peace and reconciliation.
In similar vein, South Africa’s delegate urged all parties to give peace a chance. She also called for more funding to be provided through the 2019 humanitarian response plan for Libya. On sanctions, she said there is need for a strong message to all those hampering the political process, while underlining, however, that sanctions cannot be an end in themselves.
Libya’s representative said the Government of National Accord is redoubling its efforts to end the conflict and promote an inclusive process that can help to end the ongoing power struggles and create a State with the supreme interests of the people at its heart. He called for national reconciliation and the holding of free, credible elections, while also urging the Security Council to set aside differences and support the Special Representative.
Also briefing was Juergen Schulz (Germany), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 10:40 a.m.
GHASSAN SALAMÉ, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), speaking via video‑teleconference from Tripoli, said the situation in Libya is at a crucial juncture, with the Mission working to prevent recent tensions from escalating. Updating the Council on the security situation, he emphasized that Prime Minister Fayez Mustafa al-Sarraj and General Khalifa Haftar, head of the Libyan National Army, agreed in Abu Dhabi that Libya shall be a civilian‑ and democratically governed State with full civilian control of the military and a peaceful transition of power. Their talks continued a process that began in September 2017, but what is new is the sincerity to turn words into ending the transitional period through elections.
He reported encouraging progress in the fight against smuggling, but warned that infrastructure continues to deteriorate. Recalling the 5 February launch of the 2019 humanitarian response plan, which seeks $202 million, he said 823,000 people, including migrants and 248,000 children, require humanitarian assistance. On the economic front, he said production at the reopened Sharara oil field is returning to 1.2 million barrels a day and the dinar is gaining in value, but progress could be short-lived without genuine reforms.
The National Conference to be held from 14 to 16 April is a crucial opportunity to end the eight-year transitional period, he said, adding that the Mission is working with many parties towards an inclusive political process. The Libyan people clearly want their institutions to be united as soon as possible, but they face powerful forces that have benefited from Libya’s chaos and division. “There is much at stake,” he said. “If the opportunity presented by the National Conference is not seized, then we will be faced with only two possible options: prolonged stalemate or conflict.”
Elaborating, he described the National Conference as an opportunity for all parties to put aside differences for the good of the country, to unite, to avoid war and to choose a path of peace and prosperity. Participants will choose whether to endorse the National Charter that resulted from the National Conference consultative process and chart a road map to conclude the transitional period with either simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections or through phased elections, he explained. It will also recommend how to deal with the draft Constitution produced by the Constitutional Drafting Assembly.
“The days ahead will prove foundational to the years ahead for Libyans and the region at large,” he said, calling on Libyans to come together and avoid obstruction, incitement and inflammatory and alienating rhetoric. He also called on the international community to put the interests of the Libyan people first and to act with commitment and sincerity to pressure all parties to avoid conflict and conclude a formula to end Libya’s transitional period.
JUERGEN SCHULZ (Germany), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya, presented updates on the work of the body and the Panel of Experts supporting it. He noted that the Secretary‑General appointed six individuals on 2 January to serve on the Panel. On 8 February, the Panel briefed the Committee on its areas of focus in the mandate, mainly the arms embargo, armed groups and attempts at illicit exports of petroleum, and the asset freeze.
During the reporting period, he said the Committee approved one request for exemption from the arms embargo by Malta, two notifications for exemption from the arms embargo by UNSMIL and one post-delivery notification from the Netherlands regarding a previously approved exemption request. Consideration of four additional requests submitted by Libya is ongoing, and the Committee is also considering a guidance request from UNSMIL related to the arms embargo.
On the assets freeze, he said the Committee provided guidance to Lebanon on implementation of the relevant provisions, and as for travel ban, the Committee approved one exemption request and one exemption extension. The Committee also received preliminary information from the Panel about a possible case of non‑compliance by a designated individual who reportedly travelled from Libya to Egypt through Tunisia. The Committee also responded to a prior communication from Libya regarding attempts of illicit exports of petroleum. He reiterated his intention to work towards organizing a visit of the Committee to all agreed areas of Libya, as mentioned in its 2018 annual report.
JOB OBIANG ESONO MBENGONO (Equatorial Guinea) said the situation in Libya is a grave concern for the entire African continent. It is not a national crisis, but a regional one that calls for a lasting political solution. Welcoming the African Union’s recent initiative, he said it is perhaps time for a different approach that leads to elections by the end of 2019 and an inclusive Libyan national forum on peace and reconciliation. Looking forward to the National Conference, he said it should start a momentum towards a free and prosperous Libya. Flagging his country’s concern about human rights violations, he expressed hope that they will promptly be resolved.
NICHOLA NAKULUNGA SABELO (South Africa) said that, while the security situation in Libya is concerning, recent positive steps by the Government are encouraging. She urged the parties to commit fully to the spirit of the Tripoli ceasefire agreement, avert an escalation of violence and give peace a chance. She welcomed the positive role being played by the Libya Quartet, urged neighbouring countries to keep pushing for a negotiated settlement and noted efforts being made by the African Union. She called for additional funding to be provided by the 2019 humanitarian response plan. On sanctions, she said a strong message should be sent to all those who are hampering the political process. However, sanctions are not an end in themselves, but a tool for creating stability and an environment conducive for durable peace, she said.
ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya), welcoming the work of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, underscored his Government’s efforts to establish institutions towards building a civil, democratic and modern State with a clear separation of power. The Government of National Accord is redoubling efforts to end the conflict and promote an inclusive national conference, he said, emphasizing that the solution needs to be consensus-based and involve all Libyans. An inclusive national conference overseen by the United Nations could help to end the ongoing power struggles and create a State that places the supreme interests of the people at its heart.
He called for national reconciliation and the holding of free, credible elections. For its part, the Government is undertaking economic and financial reforms, which have begun to yield positive results. The Ministry of Interior is implementing security measures to unify the country, restore stability and combat terrorists. He called on the Security Council and the international community to cast aside differences and support the work of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, an inclusive national conference and the intra-Libyan process.