Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing by the ICC Prosecutor on the Situation in Libya

Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 9, 2022


Thank you, Madam President.  And thank you, Prosecutor Khan, for your briefing to the Council on the International Criminal Court’s work on the situation in Libya. I also want to take this opportunity to thank you as Prosecutor of the ICC and wish you continued success in that role on all your work.

The United States has historically been, and will continue to be, a strong supporter of meaningful justice and accountability for victims of atrocities, just as achieved through appropriate justice mechanisms.  These are values advanced best working together within the international community.  Now, more than ever, we witness the need to support and uphold these justice mechanisms as Russia continues its brutal war in Ukraine. The work of the ICC in Libya is also a critical element of our shared commitments to accountability, peace, and security there.

We commend the efforts of the Court to investigate and prosecute those most responsible for the heinous atrocities committed against the Libyan people since February 2011. We welcome the renewal of the UN Support Mission in Libya and the appointment of the Special Representative, in addition to the reinvigorated efforts to secure an agreement on a constitutional framework for elections, and for Libya to hold free and fair elections as soon as possible. We likewise welcome the report of the independent Fact-Finding Mission in Libya, the FFM, that was released in June; as well as the detailed findings on the situation in Tarhuna.

We note that the Fact-Finding Mission’s report called for the need to urgently address the proliferation and legitimization of armed groups acting as “islands of control” in Libya outside of any State authority.  We note the report urged the international community to provide support to disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration programs. It further encouraged states to exercise universal jurisdiction to arrest and prosecute perpetrators who are found on their territories and who stand accused of committing the international crimes that are detailed in the FFM’s reports. It likewise called out social media platforms that are active in Libya to exercise greater due diligence in combating and prohibiting incitement to hatred, particularly attacks on activists, human rights defenders, and vulnerable groups.

As we’ve heard this morning on the situation in Tarhuna, the Fact-Finding Mission had found reasonable grounds to believe members of the al-Kaniyat militia committed war crimes and a number of crimes against humanity through underlying acts of murder, extermination, imprisonment, torture, enforced disappearance, and other inhumane acts.  The FFM also identified three possible locations of undiscovered mass graves. It therefore offered its assistance to the Libyan authorities to use its findings in the search for buried victims. The FFM also emphasized that victims with whom it spoke demanded truth, justice, reparations, peace, and accountability as we just so eloquently heard from the prosecutor.

The FFM is unfortunately scheduled at this juncture to release a final report and then conclude its excellent reporting, which has helped to shed light on some of the atrocities perpetrated in Libya.  We commend its work and those who have investigated and reported on these crimes.

The United States continues to believe that resolving political uncertainty and promoting accountability in Libya will go a long way toward addressing the chronic instability Libya continues to face, including the mobilization of armed groups. So, we call on Libyan authorities to do more – more to support and advance accountability efforts, including through cooperation with the ICC in the areas identified in the Prosecutor’s report, such as providing access to key documentation, supporting greater technical engagement, and responding promptly to requests for assistance and visas.

Former senior officials of the Qaddafi regime such as Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, who is still subject to an ICC arrest warrant on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes, must face justice. Victims and survivors deserve the justice that has eluded them. It should be emphasized that the Court’s investigation into the situation in Libya and against Saif al-Islam Qaddafi have been pending for over 11 years, since 2011, yet the Libyan authorities still have not cooperated to help bring him to face justice in The Hague. This must happen as soon as possible.

We remain deeply concerned about the fate of migrants, including women and children who experience sexual violence, fleeing from Libya and we urge Libyan authorities to take credible measures to dismantle the trafficking and smuggling routes. In conclusion Madam President, promoting peace and security in Libya remains critical. We call for the withdrawal of all armed groups and mercenaries from Libya, in line with Council Resolution 2656 and the October 2020 ceasefire agreement.

The ICC plays a crucial role in our shared commitment to accountability, peace, and security. We support its effort to help bring justice to the people of Libya.

Thank you, Madam President.