Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the International Criminal Court on the Situation in Libya

Julian Simcock
Deputy Legal Advisor
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 6, 2019


Thank you, Madam President. And thank you, Madam Prosecutor, for your briefing.

It is shameful that several of the most notorious perpetrators of crimes against the Libyan people this past decade continue to enjoy impunity.

Saif al-Islam Qadhafi, Mahmoud al-Werfalli, Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled, and Abdullah al-Senussi must face justice for their alleged crimes. We call on individual Libyans or groups who harbor Saif al-Islam Qadhafi and Mahmoud al-Werfalli to deliver them to Libyan authorities immediately. We also call on those who shelter Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled, the former head of Libya’s notorious Internal Security Agency, to end their protection of this perpetrator.

We are also closely watching the Supreme Court of Libya’s case against Abdullah Al-Senussi.

Accountability for these architects of Libya’s darkest days would ensure that Libyan victims of these atrocities are not forgotten. It would also deliver a powerful deterrent message for future abusers – and to those involved in the current conflict who may be guilty of atrocities. We regret that we collectively have little to show in service of justice for the Libyan people for the suffering they have endured at the hands of these individuals.

Beyond these four cases, violence and abuses continue in Libya today. Human traffickers and smugglers prey on the most vulnerable, especially migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers in Libya. A civil war continues to rage, and the numbers of civilian casualties and injuries are escalating. We strongly support accountability for any crimes that have been committed, including by officials and senior leaders involved in these networks.

The U.S. Government continues to receive other reports of potential human rights abuses in Libya, including accounts of arbitrary killings, forced disappearances, unlawful detention, torture, and sexual violence perpetrated by multiple militia groups and security forces, including by those in leadership and command positions.

The current conflict in Libya has had a destabilizing humanitarian effect, resulting in an increased numbers of displaced persons, including the migrant and refugee population. Prolonging this conflict will further strain the provision of basic services to the population and will contribute to political and security instability.

Libya’s political and security instability has created an environment conducive to the commission of human rights abuses. In an effort to address the root causes of these atrocities, the United States continues to support a rapid return to a political process, and we thank UN Special Representative Salamé for his ongoing efforts to secure a negotiated political solution to this crisis.

Salamé and the UNSMIL team face great physical risk in the work they are doing: we are reminded of this by the terrorist attack that killed three UN employees in Benghazi a few months ago, as well as by the recent air strike – in violation of the UN arms embargo – that nearly hit the UN compound in Tripoli. We continue to call for de-escalation, a ceasefire, economic reforms, and an improvement to the security environment. And we condemn all acts of violence against the Libyan people and the UN workers who are trying to help the country achieve stability.

The United States has historically been, and will continue to be, a strong supporter of meaningful accountability and justice for victims of atrocities through appropriate mechanisms. Perpetrators of atrocity crimes must face justice, but we must also be careful to recognize the right tool for each situation.

I must reiterate our longstanding and principled objection to any assertion of ICC jurisdiction over nationals of States that are not party to the Rome Statute, absent a UN Security Council referral or the consent of such States. Our concerns regarding the ICC and the situation in Afghanistan are well-known.

Our position in no way diminishes the United States’ commitment to supporting accountability for atrocity crimes, violations of international humanitarian law, and gross violations of human rights.

Thank you, Madam President.