United Nations Support Mission in Libya - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2020/832) [EN/AR]

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I. Introduction

1. The present report, submitted pursuant to Security Council resolutions 2486 (2019) and 2510 (2020), covers political, security-related and economic developments in Libya, provides an overview of the human rights and humanitarian situation and includes an outline of the activities of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) since the issuance of my previous report on 5 May 2020 (S/2020/360).

II. Political and security-related and economic developments

2. During the reporting period, the front lines of the conflict shifted from western to central Libya, with both Libyan parties reaching a stalemate over the control of Sirte. Negotiations were ongoing to prevent further military escalation and mitigate risks associated with regional confrontation as UNSMIL continued to engage with Libyan stakeholders and their international supporters in pursuit of a lasting ceasefire and the resumption of political talks.

3. After the successful bid to retake six cities along the coast west of Tripoli in April, Government of National Accord forces gradually pushed back the Libyan National Army forces of General Khalifa Haftar from their positions in southern Tripoli. The Government of National Accord forces did not reciprocate the unilaterally declared cessation of military activities announced by the Libyan National Army on 29 April on the occasion of Ramadan, arguing that a ceasefire would permit the Libyan National Army to regroup and rearm.

4. Supported by multiple drone air strikes, Government of National Accord forces gained control of the strategic Watiya airbase in north-western Libya on 18 May. They continued to capture additional areas further to the south-east and entered Tarhunah on 5 June, effectively ending the Libyan National Army offensive on Tripoli, launched in April 2019.

5. Military mobilization and build-up continued, however, which increased the risk of confrontation around Sirte and Jufrah. That included the uninterrupted delivery of increasingly sophisticated and lethal weapons to both parties in violation of the United Nations arms embargo. Both parties also pro-Libyan National Army communities, UNSMIL recorded an alarming increase in retaliatory acts in areas previously controlled by or perceived to be supportive of the Libyan National Army in western Libya, including in Tarhunah, Asabi‘ah and Rujban.

6. Until Libyan National Army forces withdrew from southern Tripoli, 2 million residents of the capital experienced persistent bombardment and frequent water and electricity cuts owing to the conflict, a situation that was later compounded by restrictions on movement related to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) measures. UNSMIL recorded various incidents in which landmines, booby traps and improvised explosive devices were found in areas previously controlled by the Libyan National Army.

7. Political actors in western Libya, notably the High State Council and members of the House of Representatives, expressed support for the military campaign of the Government of National Accord to regain control of areas previously held by Libyan National Army forces. They requested the Presidency Council to redouble military efforts and increase coordination with international allies, including through the implementation of bilateral agreements. They also rejected any talks that would recognize General Haftar as a key partner in the country’s political future.

8. Commenting on recent political initiatives on 5 May, the Prime Minister, Faiez Mustafa Serraj, welcomed any initiatives towards a peaceful solution to the crisis. He called for the holding of elections and for reaching an agreement on a constitutional framework. He called upon Libyan National Army fighters to submit to the legal and legitimate authorities and for all parties to resume negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations. He also called upon elites across the country to reject militarization and violence. On 6 May, the head of the Constitutional Drafting Assembly, Abdulsalam Erhouma, reaffirmed support for peaceful initiatives and emphasized that the constitutional process should be concluded through a national referendum on the constitutional proposal of 29 July 2017. On 9 June, the High National Elections Commission stated its readiness to organize elections followed by a constitutional referendum at any time.

9. Since calling for a resumption of political dialogue on 23 April, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Agila Saleh, has increased his local and international engagements. On 23 May, he reiterated his call, while emphasizing support for the efforts of the Libyan National Army to fight terrorism and dismantle militias in Tripoli. After meeting on 27 May with a high-level delegation representing General Haftar, Mr. Saleh travelled to Egypt, where he met with government officials. On 30 May, 44 members of the House of Representatives called for a ceasefire and the resumption of political dialogue for the restructuring of the executive authority. Mr. Saleh held talks with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation in Moscow on 3 July and with officials from Egypt and the United States of America in Cairo from 10 August. On 21 August, Mr. Serraj and Mr. Saleh, in separate statements, called for a ceasefire across the country, the demilitarization of Sirte and the resumption of oil production and exports.