04 April 2019

Opening remarks at press conference in Tripoli, Libya

António Guterres

Thank you very much for your presence. This visit has been conceived as a visit of solidarity with the Libyan people – The Libyan people that have suffered too much and deserve to live in a normal country with normal political institutions, with peace, security and prosperity.

The UN has no agenda and no interests in relation to Libya but one: the welfare of the Libyan people, the peace in the country, and the possibility to live in a normal democracy and to take profit of the enormous wealth of the country to benefit its citizens.

And that is why we believe that a political solution for Libya needs to be a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned political solution. It is not through foreign intervention that we are going to solve the problems of any country and so it’s important that that principle also applies to Libya.

And that was the reason why we have conceived the idea, in close consultation with Libyans all over the country, in town halls that were made all over the country during more than a year, that there should be a Libyan National Conference – Libyan-led and Libyan-owned inside Libyan territory to be able to discuss the future of Libya, the political evolution of the country, to normalize and stabilize the situation in Libya. And the UN is totally committed to the organization of this Libyan National Conference.

When I was coming to Libya, I was surprised with a number of military movements and a number of public statements that, of course, created an enormous concern.

I want to make a very strong appeal: an appeal for all military movements to stop, an appeal for containment, calm, de-escalation, both military and political and verbal de-escalation, and the recognition that, in the meeting I had today with the President of the Council, we share the recognition that there is no military solution for any problem in the world, and there is no military solution for the problems in Libya. The solution must be political, and it is essential that a political solution is very strong through dialogue.

I believe it is essential, the resumption of dialogue, and I myself as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I am ready to assume the initiative that might be necessary for that to be possible if the conditions allowing for it are met.

I want also to say that I visited today a detention centre for refugees and migrants and I was very moved and shocked by the level of suffering and especially by the level of despair that I found. This is, of course, not only a responsibility for Libya, it’s a responsibility for the whole of the international community. Obviously, in the present circumstances that we are living, it would be very difficult to argue that disembarkation in Libya is disembarkation in a safety situation. My appeal is for the international community to understand the need for international refugee law to be fully respected, and the need to address the migration problem in a way that is compatible with the defence of the interests of the State but also the human rights of the migrants.

I am at your disposal for any questions.