Amidst Political Crises, Libya’s People Demand Elections, ‘Not Endless Arguments among Elites, Well-Armed’ Groups, Delegate Tells Security Council
Libya is facing a crisis that could spark instability and lead to the formation of parallel Governments if left unresolved, the United Nations political affairs chief warned the Security Council today, as she laid out the significant efforts being deployed by the United Nations to foster agreement on a constitutional basis for the holding of elections as soon as possible.
“As long as the standoff over executive legitimacy continues, Libya could again see two parallel administrations,” Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo warned, dealing a “severe blow” to the prospect of elections, which were originally set for December 2021.
Following their postponement, she said the country’s House of Representatives and High State Council focused on appointing a new interim Government and charting a process to both amend the 2017 Constitutional Proposal and forge a path towards elections. On 10 February, the House adopted the twelfth Constitutional Amendment, reportedly after achieving consensus with the High State Council, calling for the appointment by 24 February of a Constitutional Review Committee, representing the three regions of Libya. The Review Committee never materialized.
Also on 10 February, she said the House, with the endorsement of 52 High State Council members, designated Fathi Bashagha, a former Minister of Interior, to form a new Government. However, on 24 February, the High State Council rejected the formation of a new Government and the twelfth Constitutional Amendment. On 3 March, members of Mr. Bashagha’s Cabinet were nevertheless sworn in by the House of Representatives. Government of National Unity leaders have rejected the vote’s legitimacy, while Mr. Bashagha, meanwhile, insists he is heading the legitimate Government.
“Our priority is to focus on fulfilling the aspirations of the more than 2.8 million Libyans who have registered to vote,” she explained. “They should be able to choose their leaders through credible, transparent, and inclusive elections according to an agreed-upon constitutional and legal framework.”
She said the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser is holding consultations with a broad cross section of Libya’s political and security actors and civil society, while the United Nations more broadly aims to convene a joint committee of members from the House of Representatives and the High State Council to reach agreement on a constitutional basis for the holding of elections in 2022.
Jazia Jibril Mohammed Shuaiter, briefing the Council as a member of Libya’s civil society, noted that she is a candidate in her country’s upcoming parliamentary elections. Libyan authorities lack legitimacy, having been elected nearly eight years ago. Libyans have since lost confidence in their leaders and are eagerly awaiting new, inclusive elections free from corruption and outside influence.
“The Libyan people are deprived of their inherent right to hold a referendum … due to the intransigence of political parties,” she stressed. She urged the Council to deploy election monitors to ensure such a process takes place.
T.S. Tirumurti (India), also updated the Council as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya, reporting on activities related to the arms embargo, assets freeze, the prevention of illicit petroleum exports and the sanctions list, between 25 January and 16 March 2022.
In the ensuing dialogue, delegates focused on the impact of the crisis on people’s visions for their future, with Gabon’s representative, speaking also for Ghana and Kenya, noting that his delegation had repeatedly heard their desire for a secure environment to pursue their social and political aspirations. He encouraged all parties to use mediation channels offered by the United Nations, the African Union, neighbouring States and other partners of goodwill.
“While Libya lurches between political crises, it’s the Libyan people who continue to suffer from a lack of proper service delivery, an unstable economy and fragile security,” the United Kingdom’s delegate stressed. He urged Libya’s political leaders to seriously address the conditions that prevented elections from going ahead in December 2021, a point similarly echoed by the United States representative who said: “Libyans have demanded elections, not endless arguments among elites and the well-armed.” He expressed strong support for the arms embargo, and denounced all foreign military intervention in Libya, including through proxies and mercenaries.
On that point, the Russian Federation’s delegate voiced concern that steps to staunch armed hostilities are not being taken by the parties, that heavy weapons have not been withdrawn and that military units have not been redeployed. He advocated for a synchronized, balanced, steady, phased withdrawal of all non-Libyan armed units, adding that Libya’s assets must be safeguarded and not capitalized upon for the enrichment of Western States.
Others similarly issued a call to all actors, internal and external, to refrain from moves that could threaten hard-won gains made over the last two years. The representative of the United Arab Emirates, Council President for March, spoke in his national capacity to call for the phased withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries. He commended Libya’s security forces for confronting Da’esh terrorist elements in the southern part of the country.
Rounding out the debate, Libya’s delegate warned that “we are at a dangerous crossroads”, as recent events are among the most complex and sensitive in the history of the conflict. All initiatives meant to resolve the impasse must focus on the holding of elections and abide by previous agreements.
He said the President of the Government of National Unity has put forward a plan to resolve the political impasse in line with the Secretary-General’s call for elections and the establishment of a constitutional framework. He called for the end of any foreign presence in Libya — an “unequivocal sovereign request” — and voiced regret that the Security Council has failed to find a solution to the crisis.
Also speaking today were representatives of Ireland, Brazil, Mexico, France, China, India, Norway and Albania.
The meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and ended at 11:50 a.m.
ROSEMARY DICARLO, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, detailed several substantial developments since 24 January, noting first that the Libyan executive is facing a crisis that could, if left unresolved, lead to instability and parallel Governments in the country. The United Nations is exerting significant efforts to resolve this crisis, aiming to bring together Libyan stakeholders to agree on a constitutional basis for the holding of elections as soon as possible.
She said that following the postponement of national elections — originally set for December 2021 — the House of Representatives and the High State Council focused on appointing a new interim Government. They also agreed to chart a process to amend the 2017 Constitutional Proposal and to a path towards elections. On 10 February, she said the House of Representatives adopted the twelfth Constitutional Amendment, reportedly after achieving consensus with the High State Council, which sets out a process that calls for the appointment by 24 February of a Constitutional Review Committee, representing the three regions of Libya. The Review Committee never materialized.
Also on 10 February, she said the House of Representatives, with the endorsement of 52 High State Council members, designated Fathi Bashagha, a former Minister of Interior, to form a new Government, which would be presented to the House of Representatives for a vote of confidence. Having taken note of both the vote on the twelfth Constitutional Amendment and the designation of a Prime Minister, the United Nations advised the House of Representatives that the vote of confidence on the proposed new Government should be transparent and consistent with Libya’s laws and regulations. However, on 24 February, the High State Council rejected the formation of a new Government and the twelfth Constitutional Amendment. On 1 March, the House of Representatives held a vote of confidence on the new Government, and the United Nations received reports that the vote was marred by procedural flaws and threats of violence against some members of the chamber and their families. “These shortcomings impacted the credibility of the process,” she said.
On 3 March, she said members of Mr. Bashagha’s cabinet were nevertheless sworn in by the House of Representatives and that since the 1 March vote, the situation on the ground has remained “relatively calm”. However, threatening rhetoric, political tensions and divided loyalties among the armed groups in western Libya have been observed. Government of National Unity leaders have rejected the vote’s legitimacy, stating that they will only transfer power to an elected Government. Mr. Bashagha, meanwhile, insists he is heading the legitimate Government. “Our priority is to focus on fulfilling the aspirations of the more than 2.8 million Libyans who have registered to vote,” she explained. “They should be able to choose their leaders through credible, transparent, and inclusive elections according to an agreed-upon constitutional and legal framework.”
Noting that the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, Stephanie Williams, continues her consultations with a broad cross section of Libya’s political and security actors and civil society, she said the United Nations is focused on building consensus among Libyan institutions to hold elections as soon as possible, aiming to convene a joint committee of members of the House of Representatives and the High State Council to reach agreement on a constitutional basis that would lead to elections in 2022. On 3 March, the Special Adviser invited the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the High State Council to appoint six members each to form this joint committee. Both leaders responded favourably to the initiative, and on 15 March, the High State Council nominated its representatives to the joint committee. She expected the House of Representatives to do the same in the coming days. Separately, the Special Adviser has offered her good offices to mediate between Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and Mr. Bashagha to overcome the political impasse.
“As long as the standoff over executive legitimacy continues, Libya could again see two parallel administrations,” she warned, potentially leading to unrest and dealing a severe blow to the prospect of elections. She noted that local flights between Tripoli and cities in eastern Libya remain suspended, while forces in western Libya supporting either side moved on 9 and 10 March towards the capital. The United Nations continues to urge both parties to engage in a constructive dialogue to resolve the political impasse and to refrain from unilateral actions that could result in further divisions.
Turning to the security track, she said the 5+5 Joint Military Commission continues to implement its Action Plan for the withdrawal of foreign fighters, foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya, while the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Ceasefire Monitoring Component is working with the 5+5 Joint Military Commission to establish an operational hub in Sirte.
On the economic front, she highlighted a lack of oversight and clarity on public spending, noting that since there was no approved national budget in 2021, the Central Bank of Libya issued payments for public sector salaries and subsidies according to the last approved budget. A controversy over budgetary payments inhibited the functioning of the National Oil Corporation. On 9 January, negotiations between the Government and the Petroleum Facilities Guards over non-payment of salaries averted a shutdown of oil production in parts of the country. Despite these concerns, she welcomed that the Governor and Deputy Governor of the Central Bank launched a programme to reunify the institution, based on the recommendations of the independent audit of the Bank in July 2021.
On the human rights situation, she pointed to an increase in hate speech, defamation and threats, as well as incitement to violence and acts of violence against activists, journalists and political actors, including women. State and non-State actors arbitrarily arrest and detain human rights activists. In eastern Libya, in particular, national security laws were often arbitrarily applied. Meanwhile, a lack of due process and fair trial standards marred proceedings in military courts. Migrants and refugees at sea continue to be intercepted by Libya’s authorities and transferred to formal and informal detention centres where they reportedly suffer serious human rights violations. Deaths in custody, torture, starvation and extortion also have been reported. The United Nations recorded a further decrease in the number of internally displaced persons from 179,000 at the end of 2021 to 168,000 by 5 March, she said, noting nonetheless that forced evictions by local authorities are a growing concern.
“Libya is now facing a new phase of political polarization, which risks dividing its institutions once again and reversing the gains achieved over the past two years,” she warned. “Credible, transparent and inclusive elections based on a sound constitutional and legal framework are the only solution to the current stalemate.” She urged the Council to convey this message to Libyan parties, to call for responsible leadership by Libyan institutions, and to remain united in support of United Nations efforts to assist the country on its path to becoming a peaceful and stable nation.
T.S. TIRUMURTI (India), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya, presented the Committee’s report, covering 25 January to 16 March 2022. Turning first to the arms embargo measure, he highlighted a letter from the United Arab Emirates, informing members of the transfer of non-lethal material intended solely for security or disarmament assistance to Libya’s Government, pursuant to paragraph 13(a) of resolution 1970 (2011), as modified by paragraph 10 of resolution 2095 (2013). In addition, the Committee is considering an exemption request, submitted by Germany, invoking paragraph 13(b) of resolution 2009 (2011), pertaining to the supply of small arms, light weapons and related materiel, temporarily exported to Libya for the sole use by United Nations personnel. It also responded to a request for guidance from Turkey, and a query from Sri Lanka in connection with the sanctions regime.
Turning next to the assets freeze, he said no negative decision was taken by the Committee in relation to Switzerland’s notification submitted under paragraph 19(a) of resolution 1970 (2011). The Committee is considering a notification, invoking paragraph 19(a) of the same resolution submitted by Bahrain, which had been previously submitted under paragraph 21. It also received a notification from Luxembourg invoking paragraph 19(a) of that resolution. No negative decision was taken in relation to part of the notified amount; however, for the other part, the Committee advised Luxembourg to submit an exemption request under paragraph 19(b). The Committee is currently considering responses to letters received from Libya and Belgium, respectively, on matters related to the frozen assets of the Libyan Investment Authority.
On measures aimed at preventing illicit exports of petroleum from Libya, he said the Committee received letters from Libya and the Government Focal Point appointed pursuant to resolution 2146 (2014), regarding an alleged attempt to illicitly export crude oil outside the umbrella of the National Oil Corporation. The Panel of Experts also reported to the Committee on this matter. Finally, on the sanctions list, he said the Committee received a delisting request for five individuals submitted by a Member State. Consideration of four requests is ongoing, whereas the Committee did not approve the fifth request. Separately, the Committee received a fourth communication from the De-listing Focal Point established pursuant to resolution 1730 (2006), regarding the de-listing request of a listed individual. The Focal Point process is ongoing, he said, adding that the Committee also updated identifying information for an individual on its sanctions list.
JAZIA JIBRIL MOHAMMED SHUAITER, briefing the Council as a member of Libya’s civil society, described herself as a legal activist and a candidate for her country’s upcoming parliamentary elections. Voicing concern over the current impasse in her country’s political process, she called on the Council to take steps to help rebuild consensus among all Libyan political parties, in line with its previously adopted resolutions. Another serious concern for the Libyan people is the need to reach agreement on a constitutional framework governing elections, she said, stressing: “The Libyan people are deprived of their inherent right to hold a referendum … due to the intransigence of political parties.”
Moreover, she continued, the Libyan authorities lack legitimacy, having been elected nearly eight years ago. In the interim, Libyans have lost confidence in their leaders and are eagerly anticipating new, inclusive elections free from corruption and outside influence. Urging the Council to deploy election monitors to ensure such a process takes place, she also voiced grave concern over a range of human rights violations increasing across Libya. For example, the current Government has failed to respect the 30 per cent women’s quota and to establish a women’s council, as required. Nor did it ensure a gender perspective in its work, and it delayed the enactment of a crucial law against gender-based violence. “Libyan people look forward to your continued support to compel the Government to respect … [norms that have] been agreed to all over the world,” she stressed.
JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom), echoing the Secretary-General’s calls for de-escalation in Libya, urged all internal and external actors to refrain from any moves that could undermine stability, deepen divisions or undo the hard-won progress achieved over the last two years. Expressing support for the Special Adviser’s efforts to mediate between the House of Representatives and High State Council to establish a constitutional basis for elections, he said Libya’s political leaders must set aside their own interests and engage seriously in order to address the underlying conditions that prevented elections from going ahead in December 2021. “While Libya lurches between political crises, it’s the Libyan people who continue to suffer from a lack of proper service delivery, an unstable economy and fragile security,” he stressed. He went on to call on all Libyan parties to protect the independence, integrity and reunification of public institutions, warning that the National Oil Corporation should not be politicized and must be able to fulfil its duties without interference.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) said the overall deterioration of the situation in Libya since the postponement of elections in December 2021 is a matter of serious concern. Reports of mobilizing forces in and around Tripoli are deeply troubling, as is polarization across the country. Reiterating her call on the parties to refrain from violence, provocative or destabilizing acts or words, she supported the Special Adviser’s proposal to convene a joint committee from the House of Representatives and the High State Council and expressed her hope that its consensual basis will force a path out of the current impasse. Calling on all parties to engage in the joint committee in good faith, she also voiced regret over the announcement by the Libyan authorities that they have suspended work on a National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, and over the lack of tangible progress in addressing the conditions faced by detainees, migrants and refugees.
JOÃO GENÉSIO DE ALMEIDA FILHO (Brazil) said the latest political developments in Libya, unfortunately, were not entirely unexpected. Limited progress in the process of national reconciliation, the absence of a constitutional framework and the postponement of elections jeopardize the fragile stability achieved after years of conflict. “Once again, the country finds itself divided between rival authorities, none of whom can claim the legitimacy of the vote,” he said, urging the political forces to act with restraint, refrain from violence and renew their commitment to national reconciliation. Calling for the prompt definition of an electoral timeline and the establishment of a constitutional framework in that regard, he voiced support for the Special Adviser and for UNSMIL while calling for more action against the perpetrators of violence and human rights violations. Incidents such as those that led to mass graves in Tarhuna cannot be tolerated, and those responsible must be identified and held accountable for their crimes.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) expressed respect for the desire of Libyans to independently resolve their problems, as well as the establishment of a new Government led by Mr. Bashagha. At same time, developments following the failure to hold elections in December 2021 are a concern, as there is a risk of sliding back into an effective diarchy, and thus, armed conflict. “This cannot be allowed to happen,” he stressed, calling for negotiations and compromise and expressing hope that Libyans will resolve the difficult tasks related to a transitional period on the basis of dialogue. It is exceedingly important to make progress in unifying Libya’s security institutions. The Russian Federation attached importance to the preparations for general elections in a reasonable time frame. He welcomed that hostilities have been halted, and that regular meetings of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission have taken place. However, steps to staunch armed hostilities are not being taken by the parties. Heavy weapons have not been withdrawn, nor have military units been redeployed — all of which is fraught with risks of undermining the ceasefire.
On the evacuation of foreign forces, he said the Russian Federation has consistently advocated for a synchronized, balanced, steady, phased withdrawal of all non-Libyan armed units, and more broadly looks forward to the timely appointment of a new Special Envoy for Libya. This candidature must be acceptable to Libyans, supported by regional stakeholders and approved by the Council, he said, noting that Council members have received limited information from the Secretary-General about the activities of his Special Adviser. He likewise expressed surprise that the penholders prefer to “cast shade” over the serious processes taking place in Libya. The Russian Federation is troubled by the illicit migration and arms proliferation, he said, which also impacts the security of the Sahel region, noting that after 11 years, Libya has not managed to address the consequences of the collapse of its statehood, spawned by the unlawful intervention of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Libya’s assets must be safeguarded and not capitalized upon for the enrichment of Western States.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon), speaking also for Ghana and Kenya, informally called the “A3”, said his delegation had repeatedly heard Libyans’ desire for a secure environment to pursue their social and political aspirations. There has been significant progress in the peace process. The reported increase of armed group movements around Tripoli is concerning and he called for calm and restraint from all parties, encouraging them to use mediation channels offered by the United Nations, the African Union, neighbouring States and other partners of goodwill. He expressed support for Libyans’ desire to hold elections, which must be grounded in a framework that has the widest possible consensus. United Nations efforts, and those of international partners, must be anchored in national dialogue and reconciliation — integrated throughout the peace process, notably in the unification of national institutions and implementation of the 8 October 2021 action plan of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission. He encouraged Libyans to make use of the Secretary-General’s good offices and those of the African Union.
For its part, UNSMIL must have a more robust mandate and resources to respond to the demands for peace, he said, calling for the implementation of recommendations by the Independent Strategic Review and urging the Council to work towards consensus based on these elements. Stressing that the activities of combatants and foreign mercenaries undermine Libya’s sovereignty, and threaten the Sahel region, whose porous borders allow for the easy movement of these forces, he said their withdrawal will require coordination to ensure the success of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, which must be led in close coordination of neighbours. Libya must be assisted in its efforts to fight terrorism. The Secretary-General should use the vast African expertise of United Nations higher leadership to bolster regional cooperation. He expressed deep concern over the suffering of migrants and refugees in Libya, condemning the degrading treatment they received, as well as the inhumane conditions of the waiting centres. As Europe shows empathy for refugees from Ukraine, he urged the European Union to show the same compassion to Africans fleeing safety and climate crises, which they have not caused. On sanctions, he said Libya’s frozen assets must be preserved and eventually returned to its people. They must be protected against loss or diversion.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) recalled that the year 2021 saw gradual, positive strides in Libya. Regrettably, the current political situation is jeopardizing that progress. Calling urgently on all parties to act responsibly and seek a peaceful outcome to the current impasse, he said many pending issues require attention from a Government that enjoys support from all Libyans, first and foremost among them the holding of free, fair and inclusive elections. In that regard, he described the Special Adviser’s initiative to create a joint committee as a “step in the right direction”, adding that elections must be a chance to move closer to national reconciliation, rather than another driver of ruptures. The Libyan authorities must take all efforts to ensure the safety of civilians in that process. Reiterating Mexico’s support for UNSMIL’s work, he voiced his hope that the Council will soon agree on a reconfiguration of the Mission that will allow it to respond more effectively to the conflict.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) agreed with other speakers that the global community must avoid jeopardizing progress made in Libya, noting that the absolute priority today must be the preservation of stability, the unity of the country and respect for the ceasefire agreement. Voicing concern over threats of the use of force, calls for violence, acts of intimidation and obstacles to freedom of movement, he said any individual or entity that threatens Libya’s peace, stability and security or hinders its transition can be sanctioned by the Council. Meanwhile, elections remain the only lasting solution for stabilizing the country. Voicing support for efforts in that regard, he said free, transparent and inclusive presidential and parliamentary elections, with the full participation of women, should make it possible to complete the transition process and reunify political, economic, security and military institutions. The current political crisis can only be resolved through dialogue between Libyans, their political leaders and their institutions, and necessitates the presence in Tripoli of a single executive capable of governing the entire territory and fulfilling the promise of democracy, he said.
DAI BING (China) said that differences and tensions among parties have intensified, while the uncertainty of the political process has increased. He called for upholding “the red line of peace”, stressing that the ceasefire has been hard-won and that a relapse into conflict will unwind those gains. He expressed hope that parties would continue to seek a political settlement and avoid actions that would complicate the situation. All parties with influence should play a constructive role in this regard, he said, urging UNSMIL to work with the 5+5 Joint Military Commission to conduct ceasefire monitoring. Foreign fighters should withdraw. He went on to express hope that all parties restore dialogue that previously prevailed, reach an early agreement on a timeline and road map for the political transition, tackle the causes for election postponement and hold elections as soon as possible, while maintaining stability. He also expressed support, in principle, for the renewal of the UNSMIL mandate and called for an early nomination for a new Special Envoy. Returning oil production to its prior levels has not been easy. The humanitarian situation has improved somewhat, and he encouraged the international community to engage in the country’s reconstruction. For their part, the Council and the Committee should prioritize and adopt practical measures related to the return of frozen assets.
MADHU SUDAN RAVINDRAN (India) noted recent developments in Libya with concern, reiterating the need to resolve differences with the larger interest of the country’s people in mind. He reiterated the imperative of holding presidential and parliamentary elections at the earliest possible time, which would carry forward the momentum generated by signing of a ceasefire agreement in October 2020. The recent resurgence in terrorist activity, as well as continued violations of an arms embargo, are alarming. Against that backdrop, the priority must be to ensure that elections are soon held in a free, fair, inclusive and credible manner, and to send a clear message against all forms of violence that could undermine progress achieved since 2020. The sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Libya must be safeguarded, he stressed, advocating for a political process that is fully Libyan-led and Libyan-owned, with no imposition or external interference, and for concrete progress on the complete withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries.
MONA JUUL (Norway), agreeing that the situation in Libya remains fragile, voiced concern over a possible escalation of violence and fighting. “It is critical that Libya preserves the gains made, and not fall back into a spiral of violence,” she said, urging all actors to abstain from provocative actions and rhetoric. While the country’s leaders call for a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned political process, they must show responsibility towards their own population, who demand improved public services, their say through democracy and a better future. Forces for the status quo cannot continue to neglect these demands, she stressed, welcoming the Special Adviser’s initiative to form a joint committee with representatives from the House of Representatives and the High Council of State, in order to establish a constitutional framework for elections. The parties — as well as international actors — should support that process in a flexible and constructive way, she said, adding: “It is imperative that we don’t let spoilers create alternative undemocratic tracks.”
JEFFREY DELAURENTIS (United States) said multiple actors whose political legitimacy is in question are vying for control of the Government, risking violence and delaying the prospect for Presidential and Parliamentary elections. “Libyans have demanded elections, not endless arguments among elites and the well-armed,” he said, a point conveyed by the 3 million people who registered to vote. Stressing that free and fair elections are the sole path to prosperity, he said the Council has an obligation to support this desire. The United States supports the Special Adviser’s efforts to generate dialogue among political actors that leads to constitutional basis for the holding of these elections as soon as possible. He strongly urged the House of Representatives and High State Council to participate in the United Nations-facilitated dialogue, adding that UNSMIL must support the national election commission to deliver a free and fair voting process.
He called on all parties to refrain from violence, take part in negotiations and to de-escalate tensions, reminding spoilers of the political transition that such acts might lead to designations by the Council’s sanctions committee, in line with resolution 2571 (2011), among others. He expressed concern over findings by the Panel of Experts in its midterm report of a pattern of individuals being targeted who were preparing to be candidates in or promoting the December 2021 elections. He encouraged the Panel to continue to monitor such efforts and welcomed recommendations on how to deter them. Expressing strong support for the full implementation of the arms embargo, he said the United States opposes all military escalation and foreign military interventions in Libya, including through proxies and mercenaries. Foreign actors exploiting the conflict threaten regional stability and global commerce. The presence of private military companies supporting both sides is deeply concerning, he said, stressing that the destabilizing role of Russian Wagner forces has taken on a dangerous regional dimension. He welcomed the steady progress made by the 5+5 Joint Military Commission as it implements an action plan to dislodge armed groups and called on all parties — Libyan or international — to refrain from politicizing or interfering in the work of Libyan sovereign institutions. He called for continued respect for the integrity of the National Oil Corporation, expressing concern over closure of airspace for local air travel. He said the United States looks forward to cooperation with the United Kingdom as penholder and other Council members on the resolution renewing the UNSMIL mandate, stressing that it is “past time” to adopt a comprehensive mandate that gives the Mission the strongest foundation for its work.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said events in Libya call for caution, patience and restraint. The priority must be to preserve stability, and he called on all actors to refrain from unilateral steps that could exacerbate tensions. Attempts to sell oil outside formal channels are concerning, and all parties must act in a transparent and inclusive manner. He said Albania is extremely worried about reports of violence, threats and kidnappings, as well as about the shrinking of civic space, manifested in attacks against political activists and women’s rights defenders. The recent killing of a blogger is likewise a crime and perpetrators must be brought to justice. The mobilization and movement of armed group convoys recalls the sad scenario Libyans faced in the past, he said, stressing that anyone undermining peace, or the political process, must be held to account. It is essential that a consensual approach be pursued in all political activities. He strongly reiterated Albania’s commitment to bring the political process back on track, stressing that “elections cannot be postponed indefinitely”, reaffirming respect for a Libyan-led and -owned political process, and voicing support for the Special Adviser’s mediation efforts. Concerning events in Europe should reinforce the call for the withdrawal of all mercenaries and foreign forces from Libya, he said, pointing to the 5+5 Joint Military Commission action plan as the blueprint for these activities, which must be implemented without delay.
MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates), Council President for March, spoke in his national capacity to commend Libyan parties for refraining from conflict, despite concerns over the political process, underscoring that the international community should remain committed in its support. All diplomatic efforts must advance that process and focus on the holding of free, fair and inclusive presidential and parliamentary elections, to be held as soon as possible. He called on all parties to prioritize maintaining Libya’s stability and exercise restraint. They must commit to focusing on national reconciliation and engage in a frank, transparent dialogue that does not exclude any segment of society. “Women and youth must be involved in every step of Libya’s State-building process,” he affirmed, calling also for progress in the phased withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries, a process that must be addressed in a serious manner. All regional and international parties must take serious steps to unify the Libyan military and security institutions to prevent the creation of a security vacuum, which terrorist remnants, especially those affiliated with Da’esh, could exploit. He commended Libya’s security forces for confronting Da’esh terrorist elements in southern parts of the country. He expressed support for UNSMIL to undertake its mandate more effectively.
TAHER M.T. ELSONNI (Libya), stressing that recent developments in his country are among the most complex and sensitive in the history of its conflict, declared: “We are at a dangerous crossroads.” All initiatives meant to resolve the impasse must focus on the holding of elections and abide by previous agreements, he said, warning that the expectations of 3 million registered Libyan voters are high. Describing the country’s long conflict as the result of foreign intervention, he said the President of the Government of National Unity has put forward a plan to resolve the current political impasse in line with the Secretary-General’s call for elections and the establishment of a constitutional framework. All local and international actors can lend their support by helping the National Electoral Commission prepare for upcoming elections.
Turning to the issue of national reconciliation, he said the Government has reviewed more than 30 draft reconciliation laws and selected 6 to integrate into a single national reconciliation law in the near future. In the meantime, he underscored the urgent need to put an end to any foreign presence in Libya — what he described as an “unequivocal sovereign request” — and voiced regret that the Security Council has to date failed to find a solution to the Libyan crisis. He warned against any further attempts by outside actors to transfer their own conflicts or score-settling to Libya, especially as regards attempts to manipulate the country’s energy dossier. Calling for an end to the many years of proxy wars and bloodshed, he said the time has come for a genuine political compact “that will unite us and not divide us”.