Libya

Security Council resolutions must remain basis for action on Libya – UN chief

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5 May 2011 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed that the resolutions adopted by the Security Council in response to the Libya crisis – which is now in its third month – must remain the basis of international action as well as any ceasefire agreement between the Government and rebels.

In a message to the second meeting of the Contact Group on Libya, Mr. Ban emphasized the “paramount importance” of resolutions 1970 and 1973, the texts adopted in March that imposed sanctions against the Libyan authorities and authorized Member States to take “all necessary measures” to protect civilians, respectively.

“As the Contact Group seeks to move the process forward, it is important that future actions continue to be based on these resolutions. Maintaining consensus will be crucial in ensuring coherence, effectiveness and success,” he stated in the remarks, delivered by B. Lynn Pascoe, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.

What started out in February as protests against the regime of Muammar Al-Qadhafi has turned into a full-fledged conflict between Government forces and the opposition – one that has led to a humanitarian crisis in the North African nation and caused more than 665,000 people, many of them third-country nationals, to flee outside its borders.

Mr. Ban noted that the ability of the international community to act decisively and swiftly to date has saved thousands of lives and prevented a humanitarian catastrophe.

At the same time, he highlighted the need to ensure unrestricted access for humanitarian assistance and to coordinate international efforts in this regard.

Since the first meeting of the Contact Group some three weeks ago in Doha, the UN has established a humanitarian presence in Benghazi and has delivered two relief shipments to the besieged port city of Misrata.

A UN humanitarian mission had been operating in Tripoli, but had to leave following the ransacking of the Organization’s facilities on 30 April. That mission is now operating out of Tunisia, and will return as soon as security conditions permit, Mr. Ban said.

“We are exploring the possibility of a temporary cessation of hostilities in order to better respond to acute humanitarian needs within Misrata and other vulnerable areas,” he stated.

Some 800 third-country nationals and 50 wounded were evacuated from Misrata yesterday, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In addition, 125 metric tons of food have been delivered to help more than 13,000 people living in shelters or with relatives in the Western Mountains areas.

Distributions are ongoing and further World Food Programme (WFP) convoys are expected to follow, the Office noted, adding that the supply route is facing challenges due to insecurity in some areas and there is also a lack of fuel for transporting assistance.

In addition to the humanitarian efforts, Mr. Ban highlighted the UN’s work with all stakeholders to put in place a political process that meets the aspirations of the Libyan people. His Special Envoy, Abdel Elah Al-Khatib, has continued to negotiate with both parties with the aim of achieving an immediate ceasefire.

“There is consensus that any ceasefire agreement should be credible and verifiable,” Mr. Ban noted, adding that it must also be consistent with resolution 1973, in which the Council reaffirmed its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Libya.

“The actions we are pursuing seek to do just that,” he stated. “We will continue working with the African Union, the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Conference, the European Union and various Member States on this political path.”

The UN is also engaged in planning for peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction, said the Secretary-General. “The tasks that will face any transitional process that emerges will be daunting. Early planning is crucial.”

There was consensus at the international meetings held on Libya that the UN is best placed to lead planning for the longer-term effort of building strong democratic institutions, and Mr. Ban has appointed Ian Martin as his Special Advisor to lead this process.

Mr. Martin has begun to work closely with national and international partners to develop a comprehensive framework for post-conflict reconstruction and sustainable peacebuilding. In addition, an inter-agency task force coordinated by the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) has been set up to facilitate cooperation and information-sharing among the many UN entities involved.