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Security Council Adopts Presidential Statement Welcoming International Support for Libyan Political Process (Presidential Statement S/PRST/2021/24)

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SC/14711

Special Representative Briefs Members at ‘Crucial Time’,

Outlining Progress Ahead of 10 December Parliamentary, Presidential Elections

The Security Council, through a presidential statement today, welcomed the Paris International Conference for Libya which was convened on 12 November 2021, as well as the Declaration issued by the participants and their commitment to the full implementation of the ceasefire agreement and supporting the United Nations- facilitated, Libyan-led and Libyan-owned political process.

By the text (document S/PRST/2021/24), presented by Mexico, Council President for November, the 15‑member organ also welcomed the Libya Stabilisation Conference convened on 21 October 2021 in Tripoli. The Council also expressed its support for parliamentary and presidential elections slated for 24 December, as set out in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum roadmap and resolution 2570 (2021).

The Council, among other things, expressed its strong support for the important role played by the High National Elections Commission in the conduct of the elections and commended the technical preparations already taken. It looked forward to the formalisation by that Commission of Libya’s full electoral calendar and its implementation in a peaceful environment. Members also stressed the importance of a peaceful transfer of power in Libya following the elections.

Ján Kubiš, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), said his briefing — his last before the Council, as he recently tendered his resignation — comes at a “crucial time”, following the 12 November conference hosted by France. That meeting resulted in a final declaration stressing the importance of all Libyan stakeholders committing unequivocally to the holding of free, fair, inclusive and credible presidential and parliamentary elections on 24 December, as stipulated by the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum. Against that backdrop, he called on all Libyan stakeholders and candidates to publicly commit to respecting the rights of their political opponents before, during and after the elections; refrain from using hate or revenge speech and threats, incitement to violence and boycott; and accept the results of the elections.

He outlined progress made in the run-up to the elections, which included the confirmation by the Elections Commission of a plan to hold the first round of presidential elections on 24 December. The Commission has also initiated the nationwide distribution of voter cards to more than 2.8 million registered voters and intends to announce a preliminary list of the candidates. Despite the evident eagerness of the Libyan people to exercise their right to vote, he cautioned that the political climate remains heavily polarized, marked by persistent vocal opposition to holding the elections on the basis of the existing legal framework. There are also rising tensions around the eligibility of some high-profile presidential candidates, he said, calling on all those that challenge the process to channel such concerns through the existing judicial mechanisms.

T.S. Tirumurti (India), also briefing the Council in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya, outlined that body’s activities between 11 September and 24 September, which included the listing of one individual — Osama Al Kuni Ibrahim, the de facto manager of the Al Nasr detention centre in Zawiyah — on its sanctions list.

Lamees Bensaad, Assistant Professor at the University of Tripoli, political activist and member of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, also briefed, observing that hopes are high with the country weeks away from elections that could be a true turning point. “I cannot overstate how significant a milestone these elections are for people who have suffered not only a decade of war, but decades of brutal autocracy,” she said. As a member of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, she emphasized her responsibility to the Libyan people to ensure that the upcoming elections deliver on their hopes and aspirations. She cautioned that the current conditions do not respect the roadmap set out by the Dialogue Forum, the outcome of the Second Berlin Conference or relevant Council resolutions. “The ambiguity is threatening the outcome of the electoral process,” she said.

In the ensuing discussion, Council members expressed the hope that the imminent elections will be free, fair, open and credible, with some calling on all Libyan actors to resolve disputes by legitimate means and refrain from actions that would disrupt the process. Many welcomed steps taken to bolster the security situation through a recent agreement on the orderly withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign fighters, while some underlined the need to do more to address the country’s humanitarian challenges - including by ensuring access for humanitarian aid and workers and addressing reports of the inhumane treatment of migrants.

The representative of the United States emphasized that no one should attempt to interfere with the elections or stoke violence, stressing that the Council may impose sanctions on anyone who obstructs the process. The threat of boycotts by factions claiming systemic bias will not help the Libyan people, he said, adding that the Council must target election spoilers to promote accountability, if needed.

The representative of Norway was among those who raised concerns about the persistent and destabilizing presence of mercenaries and foreign forces in Libya, pointing out that while some of them are leaving, the large majority are still in the country, posing challenges to its sovereignty and the unification of its institutions. Acknowledging the concerns of Libya’s neighbours, she reiterated the need for a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process for armed groups returning to States in the region.

The Russian Federation’s delegate joined others in taking note of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission plan for synchronizing the withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries and expressed support for that evacuation in order to avoid the risk of damaging the existing ceasefire. He underlined the important role played by the Libyan National Army in the consolidation of armed forces in the country, adding: “All groups must work constructively with one another.”

Meanwhile, the representative of Niger expressed concern about the deplorable and inhuman living conditions of migrants, and stated that the repatriation of those of the vulnerable people who have been rescued at sea violates international humanitarian law. If returned, he warned that those individuals will be subjected to arbitrary detention and other abuses by jailers who evade State authority in Libya.

The representative of Libya expressed regret that the Special Envoy submitted his resignation “at this critical time” and called on the Secretary‑General and the Council to clarify alternative plans for UNSMIL’s leadership. After years of division, differences and war, his country stands at an exceptional juncture, facing “a glimpse of hope to exit the dark tunnel that existed for so long”. He stressed that there is no alternative to a political process owned and led by Libyans, who “must lead and not be led”. The upcoming elections must not be used to fuel conflict, he warned, calling on all parties to make the elections a step towards bringing the crisis to an end.

Also speaking were representatives of the United Kingdom, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ireland, Tunisia, China, India, Estonia, France, Viet Nam, Kenya and Mexico.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 12:16 p.m.

Briefings

JÁN KUBIŠ, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), said his briefing comes at a crucial time, with one month left until elections and following the 12 November conference hosted by France, which presented an opportunity to strengthen international consensus in support of the implementation of a Libyan-led and owned political process. All participants in that meeting, including the Libyan interim executive authority, reiterated their backing for the holding of long-awaited presidential and parliamentary elections. Participants agreed on a final declaration which stressed the importance of all Libyan stakeholders committing unequivocally to the holding of free, fair, inclusive and credible presidential and parliamentary elections on 24 December, as stipulated in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum roadmap and endorsed in Council resolutions 2570 (2021) and 2571 (2021), and in line with the conclusions of the second Berlin conference of June 2021.

Against that backdrop, he called upon all Libyan stakeholders and candidates to publicly commit to respecting the rights of their political opponents before, during and after the elections; refrain from using hate or revenge speech and threats, incitement to violence and boycott; and accept the results of the elections. The Paris Conference highlighted the importance of avoiding any vacuum emerging from the transfer of power from the current interim executive authority to the newly elected executive authority. Recalling his previous assertions that the legal framework for presidential elections had been set in motion, he noted that the High National Elections Commission is expected to propose the specific dates for the elections after finalizing the list of candidates in early December. Urging the House of Representatives to promptly endorse the polling dates, he said UNSMIL has urged all institutional and political actors to address the concerns expressed by Libyan stakeholders regarding the procedural and substantive shortcomings of electoral laws.

He went on to outline progress in the run-up to the elections, with registration for presidential and parliamentary candidates having opened on 8 November. Today, the Elections Commission intends to announce a preliminary list of the candidates that registered for the presidential elections, from among 98 candidates including 2 women from across the country. Thus far, 2001 candidates including 276 women registered for the parliamentary elections in the ongoing registration process which will conclude on 7 December. Further, the Elections Commission confirmed the plan to hold the first round of presidential elections on 24 December, with the second round of presidential and the parliamentary elections to take place approximately 50 days after 24 December. In parallel, the Elections Commission initiated the nationwide distribution of voter cards to more than 2.8 million registered voters, he said, adding that more than 1.84 million voter cards have been distributed to about 64 per cent of registered voters so far.

Despite that progress, he warned that the political climate remains heavily polarized. While the Libyan people are eager to go to the polls, there is persistent vocal opposition to the holding of elections on the basis of the existing legal framework, with some leaders and constituencies continuing to question the legitimacy of the whole process. Moreover, tensions are rising over the eligibility of some high-profile presidential candidates along with fears of armed confrontation or that the framework may take the country back to authoritarianism. He called on all those that challenge the process or the candidates to channel such concerns through the existing judicial mechanisms, and to fully respect the verdict of the judicial authority. Nonetheless, he pointed out that even those who oppose the elections based on the current legislative framework and on less-than-optimal conditions, agree that the way towards a stable and united Libya is through ballot boxes — and not through ammunition boxes.

Turning to the ceasefire, which continues to hold, he said the presence of foreign fighters, foreign forces and mercenaries remains a cause of grave concern for Libya and the international community. However, the 5+5 Joint Military Commission has continued to make progress. With UNSMIL’s support, it convened on 8 October and developed an Action Plan for the withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign forces in a synchronized manner, in line with the ceasefire agreement of 23 October 2020. The Action Plan was then presented at the Libya Stabilization conference in Tripoli on 21 October, convened by the Government of National Unity. To further complement such positive steps, the first group of United Nations ceasefire monitors was deployed to Libya on 10 October.

He went on to note that the human rights situation in Libya remains critical, with concerning restrictions on fundamental freedoms imposed through legislative measures in the run-up to the elections. Moreover, there have been increasing numbers of documented incidents involving the targeting of journalists, civil society activists and individuals expressing views against State agencies, armed groups and political actors, as well as hate speech, sexual violence and other rights violations. On the economic front, he said the unification of Libya’s banking system remains of critical importance, as does the continued functioning of the National Oil Corporation, which remains the primary source of revenue for the country. He recalled that deep concern was expressed in the Paris Conference Declaration about continued attempts by armed groups to exercise control over the National Oil Corporation and oil exports, and urged all parties to avoid politicizing the institution and maintain its integrity and unity.

Turning to the issue of detainees, he noted that high rates of arbitrary and unlawful detention in Libya, as well as enforced disappearances — victimizing both men and women — continue to be reported and documented. Many detainees, including migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are subjected to torture, sexual violence and other grave human rights violations involving State officials, and thousands of detainees are held in secret facilities run by armed groups and human trafficking networks. Urging Member States providing support to Libyan security and migration authorities to ensure human rights concerns are considered and addressed, he encouraged Libyan authorities to promote safe, legal channels for migrant workers into Libya and through continued discussions with major countries of origin including Egypt and Niger to facilitate opening of channels for regular labour migration and address concerns about the welfare of migrant workers in Libya. On the number of internally displaced persons in Libya, which continues to decrease, he said just under 200,000 people are still displaced, compared to 278,000 people at the start of 2021.

Finally, due to the ongoing political transition and the delicate electoral processes in Libya — as well as the intensified need for United Nations-mediated good offices — he said it is crucial to urgently relocate the Head of UNSMIL to Tripoli. He recalled that, from the moment of his appointment, he expressed support for the splitting the positions of the Special Envoy and the Head of Mission, and for relocating the latter to Tripoli. He noted that he tendered his resignation on 17 November in order to facilitate that process, adding that he is ready to continue as Special Envoy for a transitional period if it is feasible to do so.

T.S. TIRUMURTI (India), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya, presented that body’s report covering the period of 11 September to 24 September. During that time, the Committee concluded its work using the silence procedure. He detailed various activities conducted by the Committee, including its listing of an additional individual on its sanctions list on 25 October. That individual, Osama Al Kuni Ibrahim, as the de facto manager of the Al Nasr detention centre in Zawiyah, engaged in — or provided support to — acts that meet the sanctions designation criteria. Regarding the arms embargo, the Committee received a notification from Tunisia concerning the transfer of light weapons and non-lethal equipment for diplomatic protection.

He went on to outline other reports received by the Committee, including two vessel-inspection reports from the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean Operation IRINI. He also noted that, on 22 November, the Panel of Experts on Libya submitted its interim report to the Committee, and that discussion thereon will occur on 1 December. During the reporting period, the Committee also received four implementation reports from Belgium, Monaco, Switzerland and Thailand, respectively. Recalling that the primary responsibility to implement sanctions rests with Member States, he said the Committee is committed to facilitating the same goal and seeks to contribute to the promotion of peace and stability in Libya.

LAMEES BENSAAD, Assistant Professor at the University of Tripoli, political activist, and member of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, speaking via video conference from Tripoli, said the country is just weeks away from elections that have the capacity to be a true turning point, marking a historic transition from a decade of instability, conflict and war, to stability, democracy and peace. “I cannot overstate how significant a milestone these elections are for people who have suffered not only a decade of war, but decades of brutal autocracy,” she said. Hopes are high as citizens embrace the new practice of democracy and are eagerly establishing new political parties, defining electoral programmes and running for office.

As a member of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, she underscored her responsibility to the Libyan people to ensure that the upcoming elections deliver on their hopes and aspirations. The elections must be conducted freely and fairly, in keeping with the roadmap agreed in November 2020. Moreover, the upcoming vote must contribute to, rather than detract from, the renewal of legitimacy and national stability. The roadmap set out a clear sequencing through which elections were to be held, with parliamentary and presidential elections slated to occur simultaneously on 24 December. Yet it is not being respected, she warned, noting that current conditions are not in line with the roadmap, Council resolutions 2570 (2021) and 2571 (2021) or the outcome of the Second Berlin Conference. “Just weeks ahead of the elections, there is still no consensus among the key stakeholders about the legal framework … and no confirmation from the parties that electoral results will be accepted”, she said, noting that the ambiguity is threatening the outcome of the electoral process. She warned that if steps are not taken now to strengthen the electoral environment, the elections may exacerbate geographic divisions and contribute to civil unrest.

In that context, she said it is critical that the Council ensures that parliamentary and presidential elections are held simultaneously with no delay. International observers must be present to ensure that vote is free and fair, and that there is no electoral fraud, coercion, discrimination or intimidation of voters, candidates or political parties. Security must be maintained throughout the electoral process and security guarantees must be provided to ensure the electoral process is not used as excuse to foment violence and civil unrest, or to cast doubt on Libya’s democratic experiment. In addition, firm public guarantees by all parties that they will accept the results — win or lose — must be insisted upon. Urging the Council to call on UNSMIL to mediate between the parties, she added that the organ should insist upon the active participation and representation of women. It should also support a process of national reconciliation and transitional justice that will promote societal healing and lead to sustainable peace, she said.

Statements

JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom) reaffirmed his country’s full support for the Libyan led, Libyan political owned process, stating that the elections must be free, fair and open, and allow for the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and youth. He strongly urged all Libyan actors to respect the electoral calendar, refrain from actions that would disrupt the process and resolve any disputes by legitimate means. Warning against actions that risk a return to conflict and entrenched divisions, he stressed: “We should not hesitate to use all the tools available, including sanctions, against those who attempt to undermine the process.” He welcomed the comprehensive Action Plan of the 5+5 Joint Military Committee for the withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries and the deployment of United Nations ceasefire monitors, adding: “The onus is now on international actors to deliver on the withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries without delay.” He expressed further concern about recent attacks by armed groups on the National Oil Corporation, describing attempts to control the country’s natural resources at the expense of its people as “unacceptable”.

DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said the constant support of the United Nations in Libya’s pre-electoral phase remains vital. The situation in the country is stable, on the whole, he said, underscoring that the main task ahead is the organization of the presidential and parliamentary elections. Candidates for the former are now being nominated and include representation from all political forces and regions, which increases the chance that elections will be held successfully. He expressed his hope that Libyans will be able to overcome the “burden of accumulated conflict” and facilitate national reconciliation. Referring to those who are in favour of delaying the electoral process, he warned that such a move might have consequences for the country’s fragile peace. Citing progress on the military track — with the 5+5 Joint Military Commission synchronizing the withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign fighters — he said the Russian Federation supports the evacuation in order to avoid the risk of hurting the existing ceasefire. He went on to stress the important role to be played by the Libyan National Army in the consolidation of armed forces in the country, encouraging all groups to work constructively with one another.

SAMADOU OUSMAN (Niger) welcomed progress achieved in facilitating the departure of mercenaries and foreign forces from Libya since the last meeting of the Council on 10 September. In particular, he praised the decision taken on 1 November by the 5+5 Joint Military Commission at which the representatives of Chad, Niger and Sudan agreed on the establishment of an effective communication and coordination mechanism to support the implementation of the Action Plan on the departure of such fighters in a sequenced manner in coordination with Libya’s neighbours. He also welcomed the adoption of electoral laws governing legislative elections and the announcement of the candidacy of key figures and expressed the hope that the upcoming elections will be free, fair and credible. He reiterated his support to UNSMIL and the recommendations of its strategic and independent review. Turning to the humanitarian situation, which remains disturbing, he expressed concern that the provision of basic social services does not meet the Libyan people’s needs. He also deplored the inhuman living conditions of migrants and stated that the repatriation of migrants rescued at sea violates international humanitarian law, as those vulnerable people will be subjected to arbitrary detention and other abuses by jailers who evade State authority in Libya.

INGA RHONDA KING (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) called for constructive efforts by Libya’s partners ahead of the forthcoming elections, within the parameters of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Commending the High National Electoral Commission’s technical preparatory work, she implored the relevant Libyan authorities to ensure that all the necessary arrangements on the electoral legal framework are concluded, elections remain a first and significant step towards Libya’s democratic transition. Turning to the security situation, she noted the minimal progress achieved in implementing the year-old ceasefire agreement. Welcoming efforts by the 5+5 Joint Military Commission, she underlined the importance of the agreement reached on the Action Plan for the withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign fighters, given the Council’s repeated calls for their supervised, orderly departure. Going forward, the arms embargo must be strictly implemented, durable parallel solutions must address the nation’s many-sided challenges and priorities must be set — including the unification of Libya’s institutions. She also reiterated the importance of preserving Libya’s natural resources for the sole benefit of Libyans and encouraged greater efforts to address human rights challenges, as Libya remains an unsafe port for migrants and refugees.

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) stressed that Libya’s electoral process must be Libyan-led and Libyan-owned, as the presidential and parliamentary elections draw near. Emphasizing the meaningful participation of women and young people, she called on the Libyan authorities to guarantee a free, safe and independent civic space for all. She also reiterated calls to fulfil all remaining provisions of the October ceasefire agreement, pointing out that the Libyan Ceasefire Monitoring Mechanism is vital to ensuring that gains made to date are preserved. It is also critical that a gender perspective be streamlined in its work. She went on to stress that the continued presence of foreign fighters and mercenaries poses a grave threat to Libya’s fragile peace and stability and risks furthering insecurity in the region. In that vein, she welcomed the recent adoption of the Action Plan for their orderly withdrawal and called for efforts to ensure its full implementation. In addition, she underscored that peace and reconciliation in Libya requires that the human rights and dignity of all people are upheld and respected.

MONA JUUL (Norway) said both the international community and the Libyan people are expecting the elections to be held as planned next month. Commending the High National Elections Commission’s efforts — with 2.8 million voters already registered — she remained concerned that a delay of the elections may lead to increased violence and instability, with potentially serious security and economic consequences. Stressing that the transfer of power must avoid the risk of a vacuum, she reiterated the importance of women’s full, meaningful and equal participation and urged the full implementation of the October 2020 ceasefire. Raising other concerns, she said that while some foreign fighters are leaving, the large majority are still in Libya, posing challenges to the country’s sovereignty and for the unification of its institutions. Acknowledging the concerns of neighbouring countries, she reiterated the need for a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process for armed groups returning to States in the region. Norway also remains concerned about recent reports of migrants arrested in the streets of Tripoli and of crimes and violence in detention centres, she said, calling for an immediate and unconditional release of vulnerable people.

TAREK LADEB (Tunisia) welcomed the exceptional efforts made to allow Libya’s elections to be held on time. The international community must continue to work during this crucial period towards a political settlement, and the role of neighbouring countries is crucial. He emphasized, however, the need for all parties to respect Libya’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and to refrain from any meddling in its domestic affairs. Further, he called on all parties to fully implement the provisions of the 23 October 2020 ceasefire agreement, particularly by hastening the withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries. All parties must respect the arms embargo. “We share a common fate with Libya,” he said, stressing that stability, security and development are shared between Tunisia and Libya, expressing his hope that unity in the Council will help drive progress towards a holistic political settlement and national reconciliation in the latter.

JEFFREY DELAURENTIS (United States) said Libya is now just 30 days from the beginning of its elections. Millions have registered to vote and there are strong signals of increased Libyan ownership of the electoral process. Libyan leaders must be held to their commitments, he said, calling on them to embrace and participate in the democratic process. The threat of boycotts by factions claiming systemic bias will not help the Libyan people. No one should attempt to interfere with the elections or stoke violence, he said, stressing that the Council may impose sanctions on anyone who obstructs the process. Indeed, the Council must target election spoilers to promote accountability, if needed. With over 20,000 foreign fighters in Libya, it is also essential to continue discussions on implementing the withdrawal of foreign forces, he said.

DAI BING (China) welcomed the prevailing ceasefire as well as progress made towards advancing the political process in Libya, through the Libyan Stabilization Conference and the Paris Conference, as well as the recent signing of a comprehensive Action Plan for the withdrawal of mercenaries. He hoped that the elections, slated to be held in a month, will be free, fair, credible and usher in a new phase of stability. Although Libya has made notable progress, much remains to be done to hold both presidential and parliamentary elections on schedule. He called on UNSMIL to lend the necessary support to facilitate the elections and on the international community to support the process, while abiding by the principle of non-interference and respect for Libya’s sovereignty. The presence of foreign forces represents the main obstacle to durable peace, he said, noting that China therefore looks forward to progress on the 5+5 Joint Military Commission Action Plan and calling on all countries, without exception, to cooperate.

T. S. TIRUMURTI (India) voiced his hope that political momentum will be sustained towards holding simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections in a free, fair, inclusive and credible manner as scheduled. The involvement of external forces in Libya’s internal affairs has negatively impacted political progress, he said, stressing that the peace process must be fully Libyan-led and Libyan-owned, and urging all Libyan parties to continue to make concerted efforts towards the unification of national institutions. Calling for respect for the ceasefire agreement as well as successive Council resolutions, he stressed the importance of ensuring that terrorist groups and affiliated entities are not allowed to operate unchallenged in Libya. The continued presence and activities of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) is of serious concern. Looking ahead, he said the international community needs to plan for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of armed groups and non-State armed actors, welcoming UNSMIL’s readiness to render assistance in that process.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), noting that important progress has been made in preparation for Libya’s elections, said there are still issues that need to be addressed. He urged all Libyan parties to work together to ensure the holding of free, fair, inclusive and credible elections, noting that longer-term stability will depend on the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and the inclusion of youth. On the military track, he welcomed progress on the implementation of the 23 October 2020 ceasefire agreement and in moving forward with the Action Plan on the withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries. He further welcomed the deployment of the first group of United Nations monitors to support the Libyan-led ceasefire monitoring mechanism, while drawing attention to the need to ensure adequate access for humanitarian aid and workers to all those in need. All alleged violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law need to be thoroughly investigated, he said, stressing that the United Nations-led mediation efforts in the framework of the Berlin process remain the basis for international efforts to achieve peace and stability in Libya.

NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) said the presidential and parliamentary elections to be held on 24 December offer a unique opportunity to anchor Libya on the path to peace and stability. Libyans have called for these elections unequivocally, with more than 2.8 million registering to vote. Noting the high number of individuals interested in being candidates, he said it demonstrates that inclusive elections — involving all components of Libyan society — are within reach. Recalling the French President’s organization of an international conference in Paris on 12 November, he welcomed the Council’s endorsement of the latter’s conclusions and emphasized that “now is the time” for parties to uphold the commitments made in Paris. He called on all stakeholders to respect the election results, condemning any attempt to disturb the holding of the elections or challenge their results. Any individual or entity who impedes the electoral process may be added to the sanctions list. He also welcomed the announcement of the withdrawal of 300 African mercenaries from Libya and called for continued coordination with countries in the region — particularly Egypt — to facilitate similar withdrawals.

DINH QUY DANG (Viet Nam) called on relevant parties in Libya to expedite all necessary arrangements for the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections on time and successfully. Stressing the need to focus on the post-election period, he said it is crucial to maintain a conducive security environment for the preparation and holding of elections and in the post-election period. Calling on all relevant parties to fully uphold the provisions of the October 2020 ceasefire and implement the Action Plan on the withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign fighters, he also underscored that the arms embargo must be upheld. He went on to call for strengthened efforts to tackle Libya’s humanitarian challenges and promote reconstruction and voiced concern about challenges faced by vulnerable groups, including migrants and refugees.

MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya), noting that progress has been made in resolving Libya’s political conflicts, stressed that foreign interference — including the continued presence of foreign fighters and mercenaries — must end in order to secure gains made. Commending work done to prepare for the upcoming elections, he expressed concern over the deep divergence of views on their legal framework. Campaign seasons easily give rise to inflammatory and divisive remarks, he said, calling on Libyans to draw on dialogue and national reconciliation to resolve their differences. Further drawing attention to the thousands of migrants seeking to reach Europe, he said boats in the Mediterranean Sea will continue to fill unless a determined effort is made to invest in climate adaptation in the Sahel region and West Africa. Greater responsibility must be taken to address the link between climate change and political as well as economic crises, which lead to the growing number of African climate refugees, he said.

JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico), Council President for November, speaking in his national capacity, said the international community’s efforts must focus on improving and creating the best possible conditions for Libya’s electoral process. He welcomed the results of the Paris Conference, calling for the implementation of its conclusions and underscoring that political actors should take responsibility in resolving pending issues, with the assistance of UNSMIL. Recalling that the roadmap agreed to in Tunis in 2020 provides for women holding at least 30 per cent of leadership posts, he commended the bravery of Libyan women who have decided to stand for elections. He joined others in welcoming the adoption of the Action Plan for the withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign fighters and urged countries of origin to agree to implement it. Despite the Council’s appeals, reports of inhumane treatment of migrants continue, and 75 people lost their lives in recent days attempting to cross the Mediterranean.

TAHER M. T. ELSONNI (Libya), expressing regret that the Special Envoy submitted his resignation “at this critical time”, called on the Secretary‑General and the Council to clarify alternative plans for UNSMIL’s leadership. He said Libya stands at an exceptional juncture and — following years of division, differences and war — finally has a “glimpse of hope to exit the dark tunnel that existed for so long”. While welcoming all international initiatives genuinely intent on finding a peaceful solution, he stressed that there is no alternative to a political process owned and led by Libyans, who “must lead and not be led”. Furthermore, the sovereign demands of the Libyan people to end any form of foreign presence in Libyan territory, regardless of labels or categories, must be honoured.

He went on to say that the current executive authority remains committed to holding presidential and parliamentary elections on time while providing all necessary resources to ensure their success. He stressed, however, that the upcoming elections must not be used to fuel conflict or bring back the spectre of war, and instead called upon all parties to make the elections a step towards ending the crisis. Turning to the 23 November Council meeting — at which the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court briefed — he reiterated that specialized national institutions are working to conclude necessary investigations on crimes committed in that country, particular war crimes and crimes against humanity. Those have no statute of limitations, he said, adding that the discovery of mass graves in Libya “will always be a dark spot in our history”.

Turning to the country’s frozen assets — initially owned by the Libyan people — he said their freezing transformed from an attempt to protect Libyan funds into a political attempt to usurp them. Belgium is again embezzling funds without explanation, which sets a dangerous precedent. He called on that country to stop such provocative steps and cooperate with the Libyan authorities to find a solution. Noting that many statements in today’s meeting were directed at Libya, he called on Council members to correct their mistakes. “As we say in Libya, just leave us alone,” he stressed.

LIBYA

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