- The present report, submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2434 (2018), covers political, security and economic developments in Libya, provides an overview of the human rights and humanitarian situation and outlines the activities of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) since the issuance of my previous report on 7 January 2019 (S/2019/19).
II. Political, security and economic-related developments
On 4 April, forces of the Libyan National Army under the command of General Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive to seize control of Tripoli, triggering a mobilization of armed forces operating under the command of the Government of National Accord to defend against the attack. The offensive brought the political process to a halt. The attack took place days before the planned United Nationsfacilitated National Conference was to have been held, from 14 to 16 April. Since the outbreak of fighting around Tripoli, my Special Representative has been engaging with a wide range of national, regional and international actors to reach an agreement on the cessation of hostilities and resume political talks.
The fighting, which has been concentrated mainly in and around southern Tripoli, has resulted in at least 395 civilian casualties, including 106 fatalities, and has damaged critical civilian infrastructure. The conflict has aggravated humanitarian needs and forced displacement while hindering access to food, health care and other basic services.
Implementation of the United Nations action plan and the political process
The objectives of the National Conference were to reach agreement between participants on a national charter in which unifying principles were defined, with a view to bringing together the Libyan constituencies, and to adopt a road map aimed at concluding the transitional period through parliamentary and presidential elections, which would include recommendations on ways to address the constitutional proposal.
On 9 April, my Special Representative announced the postponement of the National Conference as a result of the conflict, mostly to the south of Tripoli, and the difficulty of holding political talks in such an uncertain climate. He reiterated his commitment to the convening of the Conference as soon as possible, once conditions enabling it to be held are re-established. To maintain the momentum in the political process, UNSMIL has twice hosted track-two diplomatic events with invitees to the National Conference in Hammamet, Tunisia, to hear their views on how to end the violence and to address the root causes of the conflict through a return to the political process. Women were strongly represented at the events.
The conflict around Tripoli has further polarized an already fragmented political landscape. On 13 April, a group of 30 members of the House of Representatives met in Benghazi in support of General Haftar’s offensive on Tripoli. Following a first meeting on 5 May, a group of about 40 members of the House who support the Government of National Accord and some electees to the House who had not yet been sworn in started to meet regularly in Tripoli, establishing four committees to operationalize their activities. A smaller group of members of the house who support the Libyan National Army holds sessions in Tobruq, but lacks a legal quorum to take decisions. On 13 May, that group met in Tobruq and voted, without a quorum, to criminalize the Muslim Brotherhood organization in Libya, further adding to the polarization within the House. On 17 June, the group of members meeting in Tripoli voted to abolish the position of General Commander of the Libyan Army, which General Haftar has held since 2015. On 13 July, a large group of members met in Cairo to discuss the prospect of re-unifying the House of Representatives.
Support for an end to violence and a return to the political process remained strong and widespread among the Libyan population. Anti-war demonstrations have been organized regularly since April, including, notably, in Tripoli, Misratah, Benghazi and Zawiyah. On 22 May, a delegation of tribal elders from the eastern region met Prime Minister Faiez al-Serraj and representatives of the international community in Tunis to discuss the possibility of a ceasefire. Since the eruption of the conflict, both sides have been engaged in efforts to garner international support.
Attempts to stop the violence and resume the political process following the eruption of fighting in April have so far been unsuccessful. On 16 June, Prime Minister Serraj announced a political initiative entailing the formation of a Libyan forum to agree on a political road map, decide the constitutional basis for presidenti al and parliamentary elections to be held before the end of 2019 and appoint a legislative committee to draft proposals for elections. The Prime Minister requested the Security Council and the international community to support the implementation of the forum’s decisions, including those regarding decentralization measures. General Haftar subsequently stated that the control of the Libyan National Army over Tripoli was a precondition for the formation of a national unity government, the holding of elections and the drafting of a new constitution.
On 4 April, the High Council of State re-elected Khaled al-Meshri as its President. Following the offensive on Tripoli, the President reaffirmed the support of the Council for the Government of National Accord and stated that there could be no military solution to the Libyan crisis.