New York

23 October 2020

Secretary-General's press encounter on Libya

[Watch the video on]

Ladies and Gentlemen of the press,

I welcome the signing of a ceasefire agreement by the Libyan parties in Geneva today under the auspices of the United Nations.

This is a fundamental step toward peace and stability in Libya.

I congratulate the parties for putting the interest of their nation ahead of their differences.

I thank my [Acting] Special Representative for Libya and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, Ms. Stephanie Williams, who accompanied the Libyan parties in this effort.

Now, too many people have suffered for too long.

Too many men, women and children have died as a result of the conflict.

The agreement was negotiated within the framework of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission, and the talks were facilitated by the United Nations on the basis of Security Council resolution 2510 and 2542. It is the result of four rounds of negotiations held since February of this year.

The ceasefire also follows a meeting in the context of the High-level week of the General Assembly that I co-chaired with the Foreign Minister of Germany, which helped to galvanize the efforts of the international community.

I want to thank all those countries supporting this mediation in the context of the Berlin Process and in meetings organized by neighbouring countries of Libya.

I appeal to all stakeholders and regional actors to respect the provisions of the ceasefire agreement and ensure its implementation without delay.

I call on the international community to support Libyans in implementing the ceasefire and in bringing an end to the conflict. This includes ensuring the full and unconditional respect for the Security Council arms embargo.

And I urge the Libyan parties to maintain the current momentum and show the same determination in reaching a political solution to the conflict, resolving economic issues and addressing the humanitarian situation.

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya is making preparations to resume the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, which will be preceded by a series of meetings and consultations that would facilitate the resumption of inclusive, intra-Libyan political talks – Libyan-led and Libyan-owned.

There is no military solution for the conflict in Libya.  This ceasefire agreement is a critical step.  But there is much hard work ahead.

The United Nations will continue to support the Libyan parties in the search for lasting peace in their country.

But I also want to stress:

In the context of my repeated calls for a global ceasefire so that we can focus all our energies on the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the inspiration of the Libyan agreement, now is the time to mobilize all efforts to support the mediations taking place to end the conflicts in Yemen, Afghanistan and in Armenia and Azerbaijan – where active hostilities are causing immense suffering for civilians.

There is no military solution for any of these conflicts.  The solution must be political.

Thank you.

Spokesman:  Thank you very much, sir.

**Questions and Answers
James Bays, Al Jazeera.

Question:  Secretary‑General, despite the obvious hard work of your acting Special Representative, Stephanie Williams, with peace talks ahead, would this not be the right time to have a permanent Special Envoy? And how frustrated are you that three members of the Security Council ‑‑ South Africa, Niger and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines ‑‑ are blocking the appointment of Mr. [Nickolay] Mladenov, potentially hindering what could be the best chance of peace for many months?

Secretary-General:  We are in constructive dialogue, but let's be clear. This is not the first time that an envoy is blocked in the Security Council, so I don't think we should outline... or we should focus on the present difficulties, because there were other difficulties preceding them. And I hope that everything will be overcome in the near future.

Spokesman:  Thank you. We'll go to Edie Lederer, Associated Press.

Question:  Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary‑General. The President of Turkey was less than enthusiastic about this ceasefire agreement. He said that it hadn't been signed off on by the heads of the two sides. Are you concerned about this, especially since Turkey is a main backer of the Government?
Secretary-General:  This was signed by the elements of the 5+5. I have the names here: 
Major General Ahmed Ali Abu Shahma
Brigadier General Al‑mukhtar Milad Mohammed Nakkassa
Brigadier General Al‑Fitouri Khalifa Salem
Colonel Mustafa Ali Mohammed Yahya
Colonel Radwan Ibrahim Mohammed Al‑Gharari
representing the Libyan army.

And representing the Libyan National Army, General Command: 
Major General Emraja'a Emhammed Mohammed Al‑Ammami
Major General Faraj El‑mabrouk Abdul Ghani Al‑Soussa'a
Major General Attiya Awadh Mohamed Al‑Sharif
Staff Major General Engineer Al‑Hadi Hasan Ahmed Al‑Falah
And Major General Khairi Khalifa Omar Al‑Timimi.

So, these were the credited representatives of both sides. And this is a Libyan‑led process with a Libyan ceasefire, and I ask all countries that are involved in the conflict to fully support the Libyans in implementing the ceasefire.

Spokesman:  Thank you. Ali Barada, Asharq Al‑Awsat online. Ali?

Question:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary‑General. I have a follow‑up on Libya. You said that this is a fundamental step. What do you expect as a first next step starting from here?

And please, if you can, comment on the situation in Lebanon regarding the formation of the government or... and the other issues that are facing the country. Thank you.

Secretary-General:  Well, this agreement has a number of decisions that were communicated this morning in Geneva by our acting Special Representative. And, obviously, what is important now is all those aspects are put in place.
I'd also like to underline that the parties... and I can read... the parties said, "In light of the prevailing positive atmosphere and complete confidence, the 5+5 Joint Military Committee, in conjunction with UNSMIL team, will develop a mechanism to monitor the implementation of this Agreement."

And: "The 5+5 Joint Military Committee recommends and urges UNSMIL to forward the Ceasefire Agreement signed by the JMC to the Security Council to adopt a resolution to ensure compliance and implementation of this Agreement by all internal and external parties."
So, there is a very clear commitment of the parties to themselves implement the agreement and, at the same time, to ask for the support of the UN in that implementation. But it is a Libyan‑led process of implementation and of monitoring.

On the other hand, there are important decisions in relation to a joint room in relation to circulation inroads and air circulation between all areas of Libya, very important decisions in relation to mercenaries leaving the country in the appropriate time framework that is defined, in relation to the future integration of armed groups and militias. I mean, it's a very detailed and very important agreement. Now it's essential that this agreement is implemented.

On the other hand, there is another process in parallel that is taking place for the convening of the political dialogue forum, and I hope that this will be a very important step, making the Libyans come together in finding a way to then move forward with the political process, taking into account the necessary establishment of future institutions in the country that will guarantee peace and stability in Libya.

And we also are working with the African Union that is preparing, as you know, a large meeting for reconciliation of different entities in Libya. So, there is lots of other steps that will be taking place.

What is important is, from now on, that the global ceasefire is agreed by the parties. From now on, what is important is implementation, implementation, implementation.

Spokesman:  Alan, RIA Novosti.

Question:  Lebanon, please? Lebanon, please, Mr. Secretary...
Secretary-General:  As to Lebanon, we just express our wish that, as quickly as possible, a truly inclusive government will be formed in Lebanon and that it will be possible to mobilise all the efforts for the necessary reforms the country has to do and for the mobilisation of the international support that is absolutely essential, because Lebanon is facing a very dramatic combination of crisis - crisis related to the economic situation of the country, prevailing economic situation of the country, crisis in relation to the dramatic event that occurred in the harbour, crisis in relation to the COVID and, I mean, so many other aspects that have created the dramatic situation for the people of Lebanon that deserves that those responsible for the political institutions in Lebanon come together with inclusive participative solutions to address the problems of the country.

And I believe that the Lebanese people have the right to expect international community to express an effective solidarity to allow Lebanon to come out of the difficult situation which it is in.
Spokesman:  RIA Novosti, Alan.

Question:  Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary‑General. According to the agreements in Geneva, as far as I understand, the Security Council should adopt the resolution endorsing these agreements reached in Geneva. When do you expect such a resolution to be adopted? And...

Secretary-General:  That is the appeal made by the parties, and my hope is that this appeal will be heard ‑‑ and, of course, we will be conveying the appeal ‑‑ that the appeal will be heard and that we'll have the full commitment of the Security Council.

Spokesman:  All right. One last question. Sherwin Bryce‑Pease, South African [Broadcasting].

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane. And good to see you, Secretary‑General. Thank you so much for doing this. My question is on Nigeria: President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday failing to directly mention the fatal shooting of peaceful protesters, calling, rather, on those peaceful protesters to resist the temptation of being used by some subversive elements to create chaos in the country.

Given that you had a conversation with the Nigerian President earlier, a few days ago, are you satisfied with what you heard from the president, given also your strong statement earlier this week?

Secretary-General:  I think that it is very important to assert two basic principles. One is the right of peaceful demonstration. The other is the need for authorities to show restraint and not to use force when dealing with demonstrations.

We had dramatic incidents that, of course, were condemned by the whole of the international community. And I had from the President his strong commitment to do everything possible to avoid these kinds of incidents, and I hope that it will be the case in the future. I hope, also, that all those that have grievances to express that are able to do so in a peaceful way in Nigeria.

Spokesman:  Thank you very much. Thank you.

Secretary-General:  Thank you.

[Briefing concludes at 10:34 a.m.] 

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