Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
June 27, 2022
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo, for your briefing. And I want to thank our civil society briefer for her very helpful and insightful report and recommendations.
The United States is gravely concerned about the situation in Libya. It is appalling that small cabals of men, in most cases backed by weapons rather than popular legitimacy, have spent the last six months cutting deals and crafting schemes to determine who will be in power, and who will get which spoils – while some three million Libyans are still waiting to exercise their right to vote for Libya’s leaders.
Libya has reached a critical moment and its leaders must choose a trajectory – whether to build consensus and foster unity that can lead to free and fair elections and stability or to wallow in the status quo and consign the Libyan people to uncertainty, stagnation, and potential violence.
Pronouncing that the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum roadmap has expired does not in any way change the facts on the ground in Libya or break the political impasse. It in fact increases uncertainty and the potential for violence. It is also a distraction – Libyan leaders for too long have given excuses and sought to delay elections in order to extend their time in power. A new fight over leadership will only delay elections further and prolong the instability.
The major achievement of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum was an agreement to hold elections. That goal is not only still valid, and achievable, but reflects the freely expressed will of the majority of Libyan citizens. We, too, are encouraged by the progress made by the Joint Committee of the House of Representatives and the High State Council towards establishing a constitutional framework for presidential and parliamentary elections.
We welcome news that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aguila Saleh, and President of the High Council of State will convene this week in Geneva to discuss the draft constitutional framework for elections. We urge them to work in good faith to bridge the remaining differences. That sort of leadership is desperately needed in Libya. It can be a catalyst that sets the country on the path to free and fair elections.
Let me join others in offering our gratitude as well to Special Adviser Stephanie Williams for answering the UN’s call; first to work with the Libyans to help bring about the 2020 ceasefire and the stabilization that followed, and then again to convene and support the parties towards the brink of an agreement on the constitutional framework for elections. We call on UNSMIL to fully implement the recommendations made by the independent strategic review to better position itself so it can effectively carry out its mandate and support the people of Libya in their demand for stability, peace, and prosperity.
Mr. President it is also time that this Council provide UNSMIL with a clear and comprehensive one-year mandate so the Mission can work confidently to address the many issues facing Libya. UNSMIL needs this Council’s backing if it is to be most effective, and a substantive mandate renewal for a full year is the best way to convey that support.