Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Libya 

Mark Simonoff
Legal Adviser
New York, New York
May 11, 2023


Thank you, Madam President. And thank you, Prosecutor Khan, for your briefing to the Security Council on the International Criminal Court’s work on the situation in Libya.

The International Criminal Court has an important role to play in the international system of justice, and the work of the ICC in Libya plays a critical role in support of our collective pursuit of accountability, peace, and security.

The United States commends the extraordinary dedication of the Court’s staff and the sustained efforts of the Court to investigate and prosecute those most responsible for the heinous atrocities committed against the Libyan people since February 2011.

The Prosecutor’s most recent report to the Council reflects considerable progress in the past six months. The investigative and cooperative activities undertaken by the Office of the Prosecutor, including conducting numerous investigative missions to Libya and building a proactive policy of cooperation with Libyan authorities, third states, regional organizations, and international partners, have laid the foundations for accountability in the face of ongoing challenges in Libya and a difficult operating environment.

In particular, we note the issuance of multiple arrest warrants, including some that remain under seal. We also commend the Prosecutor’s office on its commitment to increasing cooperation and engagement with witnesses, victims, and civil society, and substantial progress in its investigations. And we welcome the strategic approach by the Prosecutor for renewed action in the Libya situation.

The United States also congratulates the Office of the Prosecutor for its role in the arrest in January of a suspect wanted by Dutch authorities for brutal crimes against migrants, and commends the United Arab Emirates for its role in his apprehension.

We remain deeply concerned about the fate of migrants, including women and children who have experienced sexual violence and who continue to be subjected to abuse. We urge Libyan authorities to take credible measures to dismantle the trafficking and smuggling routes.

We are encouraged by progress on ICC discussions with Libyan authorities to enhance the long-term presence of ICC staff, including by opening a liaison office in Libya as a key means to enhance cooperation with national authorities and victims.

However, more needs to be done. We call on Libyan authorities to do more to support and advance accountability efforts and to enhance cooperation with the ICC, including in ensuring that those subject to arrest warrants face justice as soon as possible.

The United States recognizes with gratitude the close and productive cooperation between the Prosecutor’s Office and the UN Support Mission in Libya. We also welcome the ICC’s collaboration with the Human Rights Council’s Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya, and commend its work documenting reports of arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killing, torture, rape, enslavement, sexual slavery, and enforced disappearance. We note that the Fact-Finding Mission found reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity were committed against Libyans.

The United States welcomes the increased contact with victims and civil society organizations in Libya as crucial to the delivery of justice for victims who have waited far too long to be heard. Victims and survivors deserve justice, which can be a powerful, stabilizing force for Libya’s future.

We continue to believe that resolving political uncertainty and promoting accountability in Libya will go a long way towards addressing the chronic instability Libya continues to face, including the mobilization of armed groups. Human rights violations and abuses will continue unless meaningful steps are taken to address the chronic instability in Libya. A critical step towards peace and stability is the withdrawal of all armed groups and mercenaries from Libya without further delay, in line with Security Council Resolution 2656 and the October 2020 Libyan ceasefire agreement.

The people of Libya deserve stability and justice, and we support the International Criminal Court’s effort to help bring justice to the people of Libya.

Thank you, Madam President.