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

Ambassador Michele J. Sison
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
November 8, 2017


Thank you, Mr. President. Madam Prosecutor, thank you for the update on your office’s work pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1970.

Six years ago, this Council referred the situation in Libya to the ICC in the context of appalling violations of human rights that were perpetrated during the 2011 revolution. The ICC has charged Saif Al-Islam Qadhafi with murder and persecution committed during the 2011 revolution, and we have called on all relevant Libyan actors to facilitate his transfer to the Court. We also note the ICC’s arrest warrant for Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled and emphasize the need to bring to justice those involved in horrific acts committed by the Internal Security Agency against perceived opponents of the Qadhafi regime. All those responsible for crimes committed during the 2011 revolution must be held to account.

Today, much has changed in Libya. The country is not free from horrific acts of violence. We continue to call for the respect of human rights in Libya. We note with deep concern the recent airstrike in Derna, a city that remains in need of immediate and unfettered humanitarian access. We also strongly condemn the deplorable acts in al-Abyar, where on October 26th the bodies of 36 men who were shot to death were discovered.

The insecurity in the country highlights the urgent need to find a solution to the political crisis in Libya. National political reconciliation is key to ending the violent unrest that continues to plague the country. To that end, we welcome the steps that have been taken in line with the UN Action Plan that was announced in September, and we reiterate our full support for Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ghassan Salamé’s leadership of ongoing mediation efforts. As delegations from the House of Representatives and the State Council negotiate amendments to the Libyan Political Agreement, we encourage all Libyan parties to support the UN political process and work together in the spirit of compromise and toward a common goal of a more peaceful and prosperous Libya.

We also call for those who are responsible for human rights violations and abuses or violations of international humanitarian law to be held accountable. They cannot act with impunity. To that end, we stress that the al-Abyar summary killings, as well as other reports of unlawful killings in Benghazi, must be fully investigated by the authorities on the ground. We have also noted the ICC accusations against Major al-Werfalli of war crimes in relation to the killing of 33 people in Benghazi. We are deeply concerned by allegations that al-Werfalli has carried out additional killings in Ajdabiya despite the ongoing investigation into his activities, as well as reports that al-Werfalli has returned to active duty despite the charges against him. The United States urges the relevant Libyan authorities to ensure that al-Werfalli is brought to justice in accordance with international law.

Mr. President, Madam Prosecutor, before closing, I would be remiss not to convey the United States’ position with respect to recent developments related to the situation in Afghanistan. The United States believes that any ICC investigation or other activity concerning U.S. personnel is wholly unwarranted and unjustified. The United States is deeply committed to complying with international law and has a robust national system of investigation, accountability, and transparency that is among the best in the world. The United States has a longstanding and continuing objection in principle to any ICC assertion of jurisdiction over U.S. personnel. More generally, we do not believe that an ICC investigation would serve the interests of either peace or justice in Afghanistan.

Thank you, Mr. President.