Libya

Statement by USG Rosemary DiCarlo - Security Council meeting on the situation in Libya - 26 May 2022

Madam President

Thank you for the opportunity to brief the Security Council on the latest developments in Libya.

Since my last briefing to the Council on 19 April, the deadlock on the political, security and economic fronts has persisted, despite the best efforts of the United Nations to facilitate agreement among Libyan actors. Also, the human rights situation has deteriorated.

We are concerned that the protracted political impasse is having an increasingly negative impact on security, as shown by the clashes in Tripoli last week.

Madam President,

Special Adviser Williams convened a second round of consultations of the Joint Committee of the House of Representatives and High State Council in Cairo from 15 - 20 May. The two delegations met in a positive and constructive atmosphere and reviewed the 2017 Constitutional Draft.

The delegations reached agreement on 137 of 197 articles in the following areas: the form and nature of the state; basic rights and freedoms, including women rights; the structure and powers of a bicameral Parliament; and some of the prerogatives of the President and Prime Minister.

The progress achieved during this second round of talks is commendable. Members have agreed to reconvene in Cairo beginning on 11 June under UN auspices and hosted by the Government of Egypt.

The objective of this third and final round is to reach consensus on outstanding issues to finalize the constitutional arrangements for the holding of national elections on the earliest possible date. In the interim, the delegations have pledged to continue consultations with their respective Chambers.

Meanwhile, national and international stakeholders are expressing concern over the continued impasse in the executive.

Special Adviser Williams has continued to engage with Mr. Dbeibah and Mr. Bashagha to encourage dialogue. She is urging them to avoid provocative acts or negative rhetoric to keep the country from plunging back into conflict.

The Special Adviser has also held meetings with members of the Presidency Council, who expressed their intention to continue working on a national reconciliation process with support from the African Union and the United Nations.

UNSMIL and UNDP are providing technical expertise on the draft law on national reconciliation and transitional justice. In addition, they are helping with the development of a national online platform to gather civil society proposals for national reconciliation.

Madam President,

While the ceasefire reached in 2020 continues to hold, the security situation remains fragile.

In the early hours of 17 May, Mr. Bashagha entered Tripoli, backed by armed groups. Clashes in and around the city with armed groups supporting Mr. Dbeibah ensued, lasting for several hours. The fighting left one armed group member dead, a policeman injured and several buildings damaged.

Following mediation by local actors and outreach by the 5+5 Joint Military Commission, Mr. Bashagha was escorted out of Tripoli.

While fighting has ceased, the situation remains tense. Tripoli-based armed groups supporting either Mr. Dbeibah or Mr. Bashagha remain in a state of high alert.

On a positive note, I am pleased to report that on 23-24 May, the eastern and western delegations of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission met in Spain for the first time since the eastern delegation suspended its activities at the end of February.

On the margins of the DDR meeting on Libya hosted by the Spanish Government, Special Advisor Williams met with the 5+5 Joint Military Commission discussed the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement and expressed their readiness to resume their activities upon returning to Libya

Madam President,

As reported during my last briefing, the reluctance of the Government of National Unity to pay the Libyan National Army’s salaries for the first quarter of 2022 led elements affiliated with the LNA to close several oil fields and ports, cutting the country’s daily oil output in half.

Following Special Adviser Williams’ intercession with the GNU, the outstanding salaries were paid. Oil production, however, has yet to return to normal.

On 11 May, Mr. Dbeibah confirmed that he would authorize regular monthly payments for LNA salaries. We hope that this contentious and recurring issue has now been resolved.

Meanwhile, the Economic Working Group of the Berlin Process has been crafting a revenue management mechanism to overcome the disagreement over the control and use of public funds.

The mechanism would consist of a short-term financing facility to fund the National Oil Corporation and other specific priorities, including salaries, subsidies, essential government operations and expenditures. This mechanism could ease competition for resources and improve accountability.

Efforts also continue towards the reunification of the Central Bank of Libya, with the help of independent experts. The Bank’s Governor and Deputy Governor held the third steering committee meeting on the Bank’s reunification and reform in Istanbul on 24 April. They will meet again in September to review progress and activate the Board of Directors.

Madam President,

The human rights situation in Libya remains a source of great concern.

In the first week of May, Libyan security agencies launched a new wave of arrests of young people for alleged crimes against “Libyan culture and values”.

Security agencies were accused of posting on social media a so-called video “confession” and photos of those arrested. This was seen as a form of intimidation during the preliminary stages of investigation.

Restrictions persist on the work of civil society organisations, including women’s rights groups, accused of violating quote “the principles and values of Libyan society” end quote.

We remain concerned by the continued detention on these grounds of nine civil society and social activists who had peacefully exercised their right to freedom of expression. Some of the nine have been in detention for six months.

On 10 May, Special Adviser Williams travelled to Tarhouna, where she visited the sites of mass graves and met with families of victims who disappeared between 2012 and 2020. The perpetrators of these horrific crimes have yet to be brought to justice.

The situation of people internally displaced in Libya, including those displaced because of forced evictions, remains highly precarious. To cite just one instance, on 3 May, 477 displaced Tawergha families, totalling over 2,000 individuals, were forcibly evicted from two camps in Tripoli.

Equally worrying are the continued campaigns by the authorities of mass arrests and detention of undocumented foreign nationals and migrants in urban settings in the western region.

As of 8 May, 1,717 persons were detained in centres run by the Directorate for Combatting Illegal Migration. Some 5,000 other migrants and refugees are being arbitrarily detained in inhumane conditions in both regular and unofficial detention centers.

Madam President,

It is imperative that the ceasefire in Libya be maintained, calm preserved and any steps that could result in renewed violence be avoided. We must urge all parties to uphold their commitment to the peaceful resolution of political differences through dialogue and negotiations.

It is also critical that Libyan political and security actors look beyond their personal interests and continue to engage constructively in the upcoming Cairo talks in support of the electoral/constitutional track. This is the only way to fulfil the aspirations of the Libyan people to select their representatives through the ballot box.

The United Nations will spare no effort to support the Libyan people in building a noble and peaceful country, including through the continued provision of good offices and mediation.

Madam President,

The Security Council has been at Libya’s side on its journey out of conflict and towards peace and stability. The path has not always been smooth. But Council support and attention have proved invaluable in keeping a political process alive.

Today, a coordinated and constructive effort is required to prevent further polarization and end the political stalemate. At a time of aggravated global turmoil, Council and international unity on the need for peace in Libya is especially important. It is what Libyans deserve. It is what the world needs.

Thank you.