Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Libya

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
Senior Advisor for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
September 10, 2021


Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Special Envoy Kubis, for your briefing today, and for your team’s efforts to guide the Libyan people on the road to elections on December 24. Thank you, as well, to Ms. Asma Khalifa and Ambassador Tirumuti for your presentations. Today I’d like to discuss three aspects of the situation in Libya: the threats to progress and free and fair elections, the need to address human rights violations, and the renewal of UNSMIL’s mandate.

First: We are deeply concerned by the outbreak of violence in Tripoli. This return to hostilities threatens the progress made since the October 23 ceasefire agreement. The people of Libya deserve a sovereign, stable, unified Libya with no foreign interference, and a state that is capable of combating terrorism within its borders. That progress is critical for regional security. And it is necessary for the people of Libya. For that progress to happen, national elections must be held in December. So, the parties need to agree on a constitutional and legal framework for elections – urgently. Fortunately, the Special Envoy’s report indicates that this work is progressing. We urge maximum efforts to consult and secure broad consensus.

The Libyan Political Dialogue Forum must resist polarization and cynical politicking. And the House of Representatives must adopt the necessary constitutional and legislative arrangements straight away. Unfortunately, the foreign forces and mercenaries that remain in Libya embolden those who obstruct progress towards free and fair elections. These forces remain despite the ceasefire agreement, which was endorsed by this Council. And arms continue to flow into the country, despite a Security Council-imposed arms embargo.

It is time for this Council to live by its words. Council members must support the implementation of – and abide by – the ceasefire agreement and facilitate the withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya without delay. Those who obstruct or undermine the successful completion of Libya’s political transition may be subject to sanctions.

In the meantime, the Panel of Experts has worked diligently to expose violations of the sanctions regime. Their work shows that some Member States have imported weapons and armed personnel to Haftar-aligned forces in violation of the arms embargo, and that others have done similarly for the Government of Libya and aligned forces. These actions fuel conflict. They threaten stability. And they prolong the suffering of the Libyan people. It’s time for them to end.

We also welcome the Panel’s investigation into potential violations of the travel ban and assets freeze. This includes most recently their investigation into allegations that Saadi Qadhafi departed Libya, without any prior notification or exemption from the Committee.

Second: The human rights violations and abuses committed by all parties in Libya are unacceptable. We are disturbed in particular by reports of arbitrary detention of politicians and government officials, human rights defenders, and migrants. Authorities must desist from arbitrary arrests and abide by Libya’s international obligations. Everyone is guaranteed a fair trial. Detainees – including vulnerable migrants and refugees – cannot be treated inhumanely. Migrants and refugees are afforded protections under international humanitarian law and those must be enforced. And authorities must facilitate the swift and orderly closure of migrant detention facilities.

We are pleased that the UN Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Mission members were recently able to visit Tripoli. We hope their important work in support of a durable political agreement can continue.

Third and finally, we commend the work of the United Kingdom in drafting the resolution to renew UNSMIL’s mandate. And we credit the work of Mr. Abdoulaye Bathily and his team to produce an Independent Strategic Review of UNSMIL. We share its clear conclusion: the situation on the ground in Libya has changed since the UNSMIL mandate was last renewed. The October 2020 Ceasefire Agreement has created an opportunity for UNSMIL to engage directly with stakeholders on the ground in Libya to move the process forward.

So, we support the review’s recommendation that the Head of Mission relocate to Tripoli to intensify that engagement. Such engagement will be critical. We need progress towards a consensus framework for Presidential and Parliamentary elections on December 24. We will continue to engage Council members with the goal of providing a mandate that empowers UNSMIL. UNSMIL has a vitally important role in supporting those who act in the interests of Libya, including those who are working to implement the ceasefire and achieve peace and stability for all.

Thank you, Mr. President.