Libyan authorities, opposition forces ‘ready and willing’ to implement ceasefire, but on different terms, Special Envoy tells Security Council

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Security Council
6527th Meeting (PM)

Says Government Wants Ceasefire Accompanied by Halt to NATO Air Strikes, Transitional National Council Insists on Direct Link to Muammar Al-Qadhafi’s Departure

Libyan authorities and opposition forces were “ready and willing” to implement a ceasefire but on different terms, the Secretary-General’s Envoy to Libya told the Security Council today, with the Government insisting that a ceasefire must be accompanied by a halt to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) aerialattacks and the Transitional National Council asserting that any ceasefire would not end the conflict if not directly linked to the departure of Muammar Al-Qadhafi.

Briefing the Council on the latest developments in the North African country, Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to Libya, said both sides had informed him they were ready to cease all hostilities, “if there was a genuine desire by the other party to do the same in a just manner”. For the Libyan authorities, that meant an end to NATO air strikes to pave the way for a national dialogue on elections, democracy and constitutional reform.

Authorities had also told him that the way out of the impasse was to determine a specific date and time for a ceasefire under the supervision of impartial monitors, he said, at which time, the indiscriminate bombings against the military and civilians must simultaneously stop. Government officials had also agreed that the United Nations should coordinate an international monitoring mechanism for the ceasefire, in close collaboration with the African Union. Meanwhile, the Transitional National Council had made it clear that no negotiations would take place with either Colonel Qadhafi or his family, he said.

For his part, Mr. Al-Khatib had emphasized to both sides that a real and verifiable ceasefire should be part of wider measures that should include: lifting the siege on all cities, especially Misrata and Zintan; withdrawing all military forces from all cities; allowing immediate humanitarian access and assistance to all cities under military attack; releasing all detainees; resuming basic supplies of water, electricity, medicines, fuel and communication services to all parts of the country; and securing the passage of foreign workers stranded in those cities.

“As for their willingness to start a national dialogue, the Government authorities said they were willing to engage in [such] political dialogue to discuss all relevant reforms in the country with all those concerned,” he continued, adding that national legal institutions had started investigating the events that had led to the crisis in an attempt to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions. The Transitional National Council had provided a road map for a transitional process, calling on the international community to recognize it as “the legitimate and sole interlocutor” between the Libyan people and the international community. The road map outlined the next steps for the political and economic domains they envisaged, he added.

“A real and credible ceasefire must be agreed upon to suspend aggressive actions and killing of innocent civilians, including women and children,” Mr. Al-Khatib said. “A ceasefire must be declared either formally, or — in a first step — as part of an informal understanding between the opposing forces in Libya.” Both sides had agreed on the need for a verifiable ceasefire and he was working with United Nations experts and representatives of regional organizations, especially the African Union, on the specific modalities that could be involved.

“The challenge in the communications and negotiations is a multifaceted and sensitive one that is time-bound”, he said, where “the difficulty lies in how to link a credible and verifiable ceasefire with a lasting political process that remains inclusive of all relevant parts. The main difficulty at this stage is getting all sides to agree on the essential elements of a political process that meets the aspirations of Libyan people.” To achieve that, he asked the Council for its continued, full and unhindered support.

On the issue of frozen assets, he said the Libyan Government had stated that it was facing severe humanitarian shortages as a result of that measure, carried out under Security Council resolution 1970 (2011). The Government had expressed grave concern about the impact of certain aspects of resolution 1973 (2011), especially on the delivery of goods and services to the general population. The Government had requested that it be allowed to use frozen assets for the basic needs of the people. It also had protested the sale of crude oil.

Laying out the vision and strategy through which he planned to carry out his mandate, Mr. Al-Khatib said that he had formal and informal contacts with leaders and interlocutors and would continue to exert all efforts to find a lasting solution to the Libyan crisis. To be successful in that regard, it was important to strengthen a sense of convergence of goals and processes among all actors working towards a peaceful solution. Each country and regional organization that had worked to find a lasting solution brought with it special assets and perspectives. “I will continue to engage with Member State and regional organizations to ensure that those efforts are unified and send a coherent message,” he said.

“My immediate task is to continue undertaking urgent consultations with the authorities in Tripoli and Benghazi and other concerned interlocutors, on the key elements of Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973, which are unrestricted access for humanitarian assistance wherever it is needed; an immediate ceasefire; and a political process that meets the aspirations of the Libyan people,” he said. The establishment of a United Nations presence in Benghazi and the 17 April agreement signed with the Libyan Government on humanitarian assistance were the first steps for that objective. Humanitarian ceasefires needed to be part of the negotiations to ensure the provision of protection and assistance to the vulnerable populations; preserve humanitarian space; and promote better respect for international humanitarian law.

Discussing other developments, he said that on 30 April, he received a message from Colonel Qadhafi that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) had bombed his family’s home and killed his son and his grandchildren. Mr. Al-Khatib had expressed his condolences and underscored the need for an immediate end to the use of force. United Nations premises in Tripoli were ransacked later that night, forcing the humanitarian mission to leave temporarily. In a 2 May letter, the Government expressed regret over the damage and apologized for the incident.

Turning to the humanitarian situation, he provided the latest update since the Council’s 27 April briefing by B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs (see Press Release SC/10235), saying that more than 665,000 people had fled Libya since the start of the conflict. While hostilities in the Nafusa/Western Mountains continued, fighting in Zintan, Nalut and around Wazin had led to some 39,000 people crossing into Tunisia to date, and 21,500 since 21 April. Sea mines had been discovered offshore from Misrata on 30 April, with reports indicating that Government forces were bombarding the port area and other parts of the city. To date, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) had evacuated from Misrata some 12,000 people, mostly from third-country nations.

On the diplomatic front, he discussed his 17 April visit to Tripoli, with the Under Secretary-General of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, saying the Government had signed a humanitarian agreement with the United Nations that allowed international humanitarian access to all areas affected by the conflict and safe access to humanitarian workers.

On 29 April, he had met with the interim Transitional National Council in Behghazi, including Chairman Mustafa Abdeljalil, as well as donors and United Nations staff. In all his meetings, he strongly reiterated calls for the full implementation of Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973. He also had urged Libyan authorities to guarantee the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all in need, especially in Misrata, and reiterated the need for a real, verifiable ceasefire as a first step of an all-inclusive political process that would lead to a genuine national dialogue and political transition.

On 25 April, he attended the meeting of the African Union Ad Hoc High-Level Committee, which he said stood by its position that Libyan parties should come to the negotiating table as part of a political process to discuss issues of concern, including a ceasefire. On 28 April, he had met with the Foreign Minister of Turkey on implementation of a ceasefire and the way to bring about a solution in Libya. He had also met with the Foreign Minister of Italy, where he had stressed the urgency of protecting civilians and assisting the Libyan people to meet their legitimate demands, while emphasizing the need to continue facilitating a coordinated international approach to provide humanitarian assistance.

The meeting began at 3:10 p.m. and adjourned at 3:25 p.m.

For information media • not an official record