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

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
Acting Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations

New York City
January 18, 2019


Thank you, Mr. President. Special Representative Salamé, thank you for your briefing, your continuing efforts – and those of your team – in a very challenging environment.

Mr. President, as the United Kingdom noted – and every speaker afterward has suggested – the status quo in Libya is not sustainable. Terrorists continue to probe for opportunities to regroup, as we saw last month in the heinous attack of ISIS against the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tripoli. Disruptions to petroleum production in the south are hurting all Libyans. Armed groups continue to jockey for influence and patronage.

In this context, we strongly support Special Representative Salamé and the recalibrated UN Action Plan he presented to the Security Council on November 8, including his calls for a Libyan-led national conference to be held in early 2019 and the subsequent electoral process to begin this spring. We welcome the Special Representative’s briefing today on his recent consultations with Libyan leaders, his travel to the south, and his current plans for the conference.

We urge all Libyans to seize this opportunity to break the political deadlock in the country. The United States stands ready to assist UNSMIL where we can.

Mr. President, as UN mediation advances, some armed factions – fearful of genuine and inclusive progress – have attempted to escalate tensions. There can be no military solution to the crisis in Libya. The United States will strongly oppose any attempts to circumvent the political process through violence.

While the political process should move quickly, artificial deadlines will complicate efforts.

The United States commends Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and other Libyan leaders for their continued attention to the economic dimensions of the conflict. At Libyan invitation, the United States hosted Libyan leaders in Tunis last week for the ninth iteration of the Libya Economic Dialogue.

We encourage the GNA to accelerate the implementation of monetary and subsidy reforms necessary to stabilize the Libyan economy and redouble its commitment to fiscal transparency. Such efforts will enable a much-needed conversation about equitable distribution of the country’s wealth.

Mr. President, as the Security Council has repeatedly affirmed, Libya’s petroleum belongs to the Libyan people. We condemn illicit transactions in Libyan petroleum and reaffirm our support for the robust implementation of Security Council Resolutions 2146 (2014), 2278 (2016), and 2362 (2017), which ban this practice.

We also encourage Libyan authorities to continue their work with UNSMIL to strengthen security arrangements, particularly in Tripoli. We echo UNSMIL’s condemnation of recent violence in the Libyan capital and call on all groups to respect their commitments to the September 4, 2018 ceasefire and the consolidation agreement reached on September 9.

Mr. President, we remind those who threaten Libya’s peace, security, and stability that the Security Council is paying attention and can impose sanctions. The respective asset freezes and travel bans on militia leaders Ibrahim Jadhran in September 2018 and Salah Badi in November 2018 show how serious we were and we remain.

Mr. President, the Libyan people have suffered from insecurity, lack of economic opportunity, and political upheaval for too long. In partnership with Special Representative Salamé, we must seize the current opportunity to break the political impasse through participation in the national conference, and empower all Libyans to move toward a more peaceful and prosperous future.

Thank you, Mr. President.