Ambassador Kelly Craft
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
July 8, 2020
Thank you, Minister Maas for chairing this session today. And thank you, Mr. Secretary-General for joining us today, along with ministers and senior officials from other delegations and regional organizations.
Since this Council last met to discuss Libya, we have seen dramatic shifts on both the military and health fronts. On the military battlefield, fighting has led to territorial gains for one side and losses for the other, and unfortunately a continued influx of foreign fighters, weapons, and materiel for both. And on the COVID-19 battlefield we have watched Libya struggle to contain a rising number of cases, a challenge that the conflict only exacerbates.
What has not changed since the last time this Council met to discuss UNSMIL is the United States’ policy toward Libya. We continue to oppose all foreign military intervention in Libya. Finalizing an immediate ceasefire under the UN-led 5+5 ceasefire talks is key, as is compliance with the UN arms embargo by all member states, including members of this Council. We urge member states to continue to share information with the Libya Panel of Experts of potential arms embargo violations.
Success will require the Libyan parties to participate in ceasefire negotiations in good faith. They must support means to verify compliance once a ceasefire is established. Ultimately, Libyan parties must resolve this crisis through UN-facilitated political negotiations with support from the international community in the Berlin Process.
All external actors involved in the conflict should abide by the commitments they made in Berlin and immediately suspend military operations, halt the ongoing transfer of foreign military equipment and fighters to Libya, and allow local authorities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let me be clear: there is no place for foreign mercenaries or proxy forces in Libya, including – as evidence makes clear – Russian government proxies fighting alongside and in support of LNA forces.
The situations in Sirte and Al Jufra remain of grave concern, and we should NOT underestimate the significance of these places for the control of Libya’s oil crescent. The United States is also closely monitoring the movement of Wagner mercenaries and their aligned foreign fighters from Sudan and elsewhere to southern oil facilities. We have received reports that they have installed military equipment and mines to assist their forced takeover of the sites. These are examples of the continued violations of the arms embargo and clear violations of Libyan sovereignty.
To achieve a peaceful outcome, there is one obvious solution: instead of sending proxy forces and military equipment to assert control over oil facilities by force, the parties must allow the National Oil Corporation to resume its operations immediately. This Council’s Resolution 2510, like past resolutions, makes clear, “Libya’s oil resources are for the benefit of all Libyans and needs to remain under the exclusive control of the National Oil Corporation.” Full stop.
The Trump Administration welcomes the establishment of an international Fact-Finding Mission to Libya to investigate human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, with a view to ensuring that perpetrators of such abuses and violations are finally held to account. A culture of impunity has gone on for far too long as attacks on the Libyan people and civilian infrastructure continue. This has only been heightened by the recent and horrific discovery of at least eight mass grave sites in locations vacated by the LNA. The Fact-Finding Mission needs to investigate these findings through safe and unhindered access to Libyan territory so that they may speak freely with witnesses to hold those responsible accountable for these acts.
Finally, to ensure diplomatic success over the long term, we should ensure that UNSMIL is fit for purpose. Recent events in Libya offer a new chance – and a limited opening – for the UN to help in achieve an enduring ceasefire. We should not squander this opportunity. It is not every day the United Nations can act with speed to respond to an evolving situation on the ground. Reforming UNSMIL now gives us the best chance to capitalize on battlefield changes in order to bring about a permanent Libyan-led, Libyan-owned political settlement and to reinforce the commitments made by world leaders in Berlin earlier this year.
In the meantime, acting SRSG Stephanie Williams and the entire UNSMIL team deserve our unified and unwavering support.