Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in Libya (via VTC)

Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 10, 2020


Thank you, Madam President.

The United States is concerned about crimes and human rights abuses in Libya, including violence against civilians and atrocities in Tarhouna, that we have just heard described in the briefing. But there are long outstanding crimes that also must be accounted for expeditiously.

Accountability for the architects of Libya’s darkest days would bring justice to the victims of these atrocities and their families and help ensure they are not forgotten. It would also strengthen the durability of the inclusive, negotiated political agreement we hope is in the future, because it would deliver a powerful deterrent message to potential abusers, and to those involved in the current conflict who may have committed abuses and atrocities – that there is no place for the perpetration of atrocities and other human rights abuses, in Libya’s future.

For that reason, the United States supported the recent announcement of economic sanctions from the European Union against Mahmoud al-Werfalli for the human rights abuses he has committed against Libyans.

The U.S. Government continues to receive reports of atrocities and other human rights abuses in Libya that are happening now. Accounts include arbitrary killings, forced disappearances, unlawful detention, torture, and sexual and gender-based violence. The conflict in Libya is destabilizing to the region and has displaced many. A culture of impunity has prolonged the conflict by enabling human rights abuses against Libyans.

The United States is further concerned by reports of violence against peaceful protestors this past August in Zawiya, Tripoli, and Hun. We support UNSMIL’s call for an investigation into the reports of the use of excessive force against protestors. Libyans must be allowed to exercise their right to peaceful assembly.

We also express concern about the mines and booby traps in the outskirts of Tripoli and the reports of a massacre of migrants in Mizda.

The United States shares the horror of Libyans’ and the international community at the discovery of mass graves and of bodies showing signs of torture near Tarhouna. We support immediate efforts by the Libyan government and international bodies to investigate these abuses and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Specifically, Mohammed al-Kani and the Kaniyat militia is one of the most egregious abusers of human rights in Libya and has carried out enforced disappearances, torture, and killings in Tarhouna. The United States will nominate al-Kani and the Kaniyat militia to the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee for designation shortly. These designations would be a strong message from the Security Council for Libyan authorities and the international community to take meaningful enforcement action against human rights violators, and to end the culture of impunity in Libya that is fueling the conflict.

Libyan armed groups and security forces on all sides – as well as their international backers – stand accused of perpetrating and enabling human rights abuses. These actions are unacceptable. The United States welcomes the creation of an international fact-finding mission to document atrocities and other human rights abuses in Libya, and we strongly urge that the Fact-Finding Mission be granted full access throughout Libya.

We join our colleagues on the Council in welcoming the October 23 announcement of the nationwide Libyan ceasefire, facilitated by the UN Acting Special Representative Stephanie Williams, and we will press to ensure that it leads to an end to these abuses, facilitates efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice, and permits the Libyan people to find a lasting, political solution to this conflict.

The United States continues to oppose all foreign military intervention in Libya and supports the UN’s efforts to convene the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum this week in Tunis for in-person discussions aimed at determining a new executive authority to prepare for national elections. We thank UN Acting Special Representative Stephanie Williams and her team for their ongoing efforts in this regard.

The United States has been, historically, 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 use the right tools for each situation.

I have heard my colleagues mention the United States’ view and position on the ICC, so let me close by reiterating 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. International justice is not built on violating the founding agreements that created the tools of international justice. Our concerns regarding the ICC and the situation in Afghanistan are well-known.

Our position on the ICC in no way diminishes the United States’ commitment to supporting accountability for these crimes, these atrocities, these violations of international humanitarian law, and we will continue to be an advocate for justice.

Thank you, Madam President.