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Persistent Political Divisions Undermine Libya’s Transition, Secretary-General’s Special Representative Warns in Briefing to Security Council

Security Council

7130th Meeting (AM)

Persistent Political Divisions Undermine Libya’s Transition, Secretary-General’s


Special Representative Warns in Briefing to Security Council


Chair of Sanctions Committee, Country’s Permanent Representative Deliver Statements

Political divisions continued to undermine the management of Libya’s transition period, and the nation faced “the risk of embarking on a new trajectory of unprecedented violence”, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today.

Highlighting recent developments in the North African country, Tarek Mitri, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), noted that protestors had stormed the General National Congress building on 2 March and demanded that body’s dissolution.  The use of force to achieve political objectives must be unequivocally rejected, he emphasized, urging respect for legitimate State institutions.

He went on to note that the transfer of authority to a constitutionally elected legislative body had not materialized by 7 February, the date controversially interpreted as the expiry of the term of the General National Congress, adding that the body would therefore continue until the end of a longer constitutional process.  Considerable differences remained over holding both parliamentary and presidential elections, and over the extent of the powers to be granted the future President, he said.

On the security situation, he said there had been a dramatic increase in violence involving supporters of the former regime, as well as rival ethnic and tribal groups.  In January and early February, clashes had taken place in the Warshafana area west of Tripoli, within earshot of the UNSMIL compound.  Violence in Sabha had resulted in more than 100 fatalities, including children and the elderly, as well as the displacement of hundreds of families.  The 24 February killing of seven Egyptian nationals, all Christians, in Benghazi was a sad illustration of the dangerous lawlessness prevalent in Libya, he added.

Acknowledging that UNSMIL was seen as powerless to protect civilians by those whose expectations far exceeded its mandate, he underlined the importance of concerted efforts by Government, political, civic as well as revolutionary forces to ensue protection.  There had also been an alarming increase in violence against journalists and media institutions, he said, noting that several television stations in Tripoli and Benghazi had been attacked and a number of journalists and other media figures abducted.

Also briefing the Council was Eugène-Richard Gasana (Rwanda), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011), who presented the report of that subsidiary body’s Panel of Experts.

He said the Panel had concluded that the proliferation of weapons from Libya remained a major challenge for stability within the country and the wider region, pointing out that non-State actors exercised control over most of the stockpiles, and ineffective border control systems were among the primary obstacles to countering proliferation.  Investigations into arms transfers to 14 countries reflected a highly diversified range of trafficking dynamics, he said, adding that trafficking from Libya was fuelling conflict and insecurity — including terrorism — on several continents.

He went on to state that the Panel also noted instances of Member States lacking the legislative capacity to implement asset-freeze measures, which in one instance had resulted in the dissipation of almost $2 million in funds that should have been frozen.  The Panel also reported that two listed individuals had left Algeria for Oman, in violation of the travel ban in place, and it continued to investigate an alleged 2011 plot to smuggle Saadi Qadhafi and his family to Mexico.

Ibrahim O. A. Dabbashi (Libya) said that two years after Muammar Qadhafi’s fall, the situation was not as most Libyans had hoped it would be.  The country had yet to create institutions, including a central authority to enforce the law, deter violators and combat impunity.  Libya faced two major security threats:  groups seeking to reconstruct the State according to their own vision, through violence and terrorism; and remnants of the previous regime who sought to create instability.  Legitimate international support was needed, including advice, capacity-building and the extradition of fugitives, he emphasized.

The weakness of a central authority and the absence of a deterrent Government force had allowed outlaws to disrupt oil exportation, he continued.  As a result, Libya’s income had declined by more than 70 per cent from normal levels over the past seven months.  If the situation persisted, the country could face bankruptcy and social order would be severely threatened, he warned.  Urging the Council to extend UNSMIL’s mandate for one year, and to place additional members of the former regime on the travel ban list, he also asked Member States rapidly to freeze their assets and approve their automatic return to the Libyan people.

The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 10:57 a.m.

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For information media. Not an official record.