Ambassador Richard Mills
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
January 28, 2021
Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, Acting SRSG Williams, for a very useful briefing.
So, where are we big picture? The United States believes, as we’ve just heard in SRSG Williams briefing, that Libya faces a critical turning point. A viable path to a unified government, national elections, and an end to the conflict lies ahead of us. The Libyan parties themselves must now seize the opportunity before them to select an interim national executive authority that moves beyond the status quo and answers the Libyan people’s call for transparent and effective governance.
Likewise, all external actors involved in this conflict, as we’ve heard from the colleagues that spoke before me, must cease their military intervention and withdraw from Libya immediately, as the Libyan people themselves demanded in their October 23 ceasefire announcement. The Security Council and the international community must remain engaged to ensure that Libyans can proceed peacefully and unhindered down a path toward national elections in December, so that they can reclaim sovereign control over their entire country.
What happens next? Well, let me begin by commending, on behalf of the U.S. government, Acting SRSG Williams for her extraordinary leadership in guiding the UN political process over the past several months and generating the momentum that we are witnessing today on all the different tracks, political, economic, and security. Her commitment and creativity have consistently found a way around the obstacles on the path to peace and security.
We are also confident that her diligent work allows the incoming UN Special Envoy for Libya, Jan Kubis, to quickly step into his new role and continue the critical progress that Stephanie has begun. The United States welcomes Mr. Kubis and we offer him our full support.
We also welcome the appointment of Mr. Zenenga as the UNSMIL Coordinator and Ms. Gagnon as Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator. We are confident this team can provide firm and steady guidance for the process ahead.
The United States commends the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum for adopting its Advisory Committee’s recommendation of a formula for selecting a new executive authority. We now call on all parties to work with urgency and with good faith through the Forum to establish a new unified government, whose mandate will be to implement national elections on December 24 of this year, provide public services, and transparently manage and distribute Libya’s wealth to the benefit of all its citizens. It is critical that the Libyan people and the international community take all necessary steps to prevent spoilers from standing in the way of this political transition.
We believe that the Libyan nationwide ceasefire agreement that was signed in October remains the foundation for sustainable progress on the security, political, and economic tracks. The Libyans called for the removal of all foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya within three months of the signing of the agreement. That period, as we’ve heard, expired last week, and the external actors who have militarily intervened in this conflict have wholly, completely, ignored Libyan demands.
We call on all external parties, to include Russia, Turkey, and the UAE, to respect Libyan sovereignty and immediately cease all military intervention in Libya. Per the October ceasefire agreement, we call on Turkey and Russia to immediately initiate the withdrawal of their forces from the country and the removal of the foreign mercenaries and military proxies that they have recruited, financed, deployed, and supported in Libya.
The United States welcomes the Secretary-General’s December 29 report on the ceasefire monitoring arrangements, which we believe set out the parameters for the UN to play a very facilitative role. The U.S. urges the UN to identify all necessary and appropriate means to fully support the Joint Military Commission’s efforts to safeguard the ceasefire and coordinate with Security Council members as appropriate.
All parties to the conflict should fully back the JMC’s efforts to monitor and verify compliance – as well as to implement further confidence building measures, starting with the re-opening of the coastal road. We call on the prime minister and the LNA to take the steps necessary to re-open the road as soon as possible.
The United States also calls attention to the culture of impunity that has prolonged the conflict in Libya, and that SRSG Williams has just eloquently described. The continued discoveries of mass grave sites in areas vacated by the LNA has raised concerns of the extent of human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law across Libya during the civil war. In order to conduct independent investigations, the international Fact-Finding Mission to Libya needs safe and unhindered access to all Libyan territory so that its members can visit sites and speak freely and privately with anyone in Libya.
One year has passed since the Berlin Conference. The United States joined the UK, France, Germany, and Italy last week in a statement acknowledging the anniversary, as well as the progress we have made and the work still left to do. We continue to call on members of this Council to adhere to their Berlin Process commitments and genuinely and actively support the UN political process, support ceasefire implementation, accountability for human rights violations, and the UN arms embargo.
The circumstances from one year ago have changed dramatically. After beginning 2020 on a war footing, the Libyan parties ultimately sought opportunities to chart progress in the political, security, and economic negotiations, despite what has been a year of unfulfilled commitments by some Berlin Process members. We enter 2021 with considerably more hopeful prospects than we did in 2020, but full support for the UN process and the conclusions of the Berlin Conference are essential for there to be successful national elections by the end of the year.
Let me end by saying, the United States believes that it is incumbent on all of us to use fully the tools that we have at our disposal, to affect the change we want – and need – to see in Libya. This includes giving our full support to the UN sanctions regime, particularly to the arms embargo, and the Panel of Experts.
As we have said many times before, an inclusive, negotiated political solution is the only means to end the conflict and validation that the UN political process is the only viable platform to achieve peace and national reconciliation in Libya.
Thank you, Mr. President.