Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Libya

John Kelley
Political Minister Counselor
New York, New York
April 18, 2023


Thank you, Mr. President. I’d like to thank Special Representative Bathily for his briefing on the situation in Libya, as well as the Chair of the 1970 Committee for his report. We continue to unequivocally support the SRSG’s efforts to reach the political consensus needed for Libyans to hold elections as soon as possible.

The frustration among the Libyan people over the political stalemate is evident. Powerful actors continue to undermine the path to elections. The interference has only become more public since the failure to hold elections in December 2021.

It is time to build on past achievements and current momentum by constructively engaging in the inclusive process outlined by Special Representative Bathily towards a UN-facilitated roadmap to elections as soon as is feasible.

The United States urges the 6+6 Committee to contribute to this UN-led effort by immediately addressing the remaining barriers to elections.

On sanctions, we remain concerned about the uptick in both illicit petroleum and arms trafficking. We urge all Member States to prevent any illicit petroleum shipments. Such illicit shipments outside of the National Oil Corporation often fund destabilizing actors in Libya. They also steal resources rightfully belonging to the Libyan people.

We also continue to support strict adherence to the arms embargo. We applaud the EU Operation IRINI for the diversion of vessels found to contain arms and related material that could enable renewed conflict in Libya.

The United States welcomes the ongoing work of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission to unify Libya’s security forces and fully implement the ceasefire agreement. The withdrawal of foreign forces, fighters, and mercenaries remains an essential element of maintaining stability throughout Libya.

The expulsion of Wagner mercenaries is critical. The war in Ukraine has laid bare what civilians in Libya and elsewhere in Africa have known for years – Wagner is a brutal organization seeking only to advance its own, and Russia’s, interests in Africa.

With respect to human rights, the final report of the Human Rights Council’s Fact-Finding Mission is dismaying. The enumerated violations and abuses of the human rights of men, women, and children, and particularly of migrants, are horrific and the situation appears to be getting worse.

The impunity with which state and non-state actors have operated demonstrates an utter lack of regard for the wellbeing of human beings in the pursuit of money and power. There must be accountability for these violations and abuses if national reconciliation is to be achieved.

The people of Libya have waited long enough. It is time for Libya’s leaders to show progress and demonstrate a willingness to put their nation’s interests over their own.

And I thank you, Mr. President.