Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 24, 2021
Let me start by thanking Special Envoy Kubis for your briefing today. It is a pleasure to welcome you to this first Security Council briefing in your new role. And I also want to thank Ambassador Tirumuti for his efforts as Chair of the Libya Sanctions Committee.
The Libyan political process has advanced dramatically over the last six months, and particularly over the last six weeks since you arrived as Special Envoy. Libya has taken tremendous strides forward, and UNSMIL’s efforts to support this progress have been critical.
The vote of confidence by the House of Representatives and swearing-in of the cabinet of a new, unified, interim Libyan government, which has been charged with leading the country up to the elections, could mark a turning point for Libya. We commend all Libyan actors for constructively participating in this process, as well as the Libyan people for their determination to restore unity to their country.
These are welcome developments. We’re encouraged by this progress. But we cannot become complacent. It’s time to press forward, and to help Libya’s cabinet with the hard work ahead of pulling the country together.
Today I’d like to talk about the three main steps for permanent peace in Libya: unity, transparency, and free and fair elections.
First, unity. While Libya has taken great strides economically, we’re concerned that Libya does not have a unified budget. A unified budget is necessary to provide for the needs of the Libyan people. We urge swift action. The new interim government will need to earn its credibility with the Libyan people, and meeting their basic needs is essential to doing so.
Second, transparency. Trust is what democratic governments are built on. Any peaceful, sustainable, unified government must be transparent and free from corruption. That’s particularly true when it comes to any agreement on the management of oil revenues.
The interim Government of National Unity must resist and root out corruption wherever possible – and it’s up to us to make that clear to them. That includes taking control away from militias who have abused their power for personal gain, making sovereign institutions apolitical, and creating mechanisms to identify and punish those who engage in corruption.
Third, and most important, the top priority for our mission and the country needs to be organizing free and fair elections on December 24, 2021. International support for these efforts will be essential. We must honor this timeline in order to sustain the confidence of the Libyan people and the international community.
And that means all external actors involved in this conflict must cease their military intervention, respect the Libyan ceasefire agreement, and begin withdrawing from Libya immediately. The Libyan people demanded this withdrawal in their October 23 ceasefire announcement. The 5+5 Joint Military Commission recently reaffirmed this request.
There can be no exceptions to this stipulation. The continued presence of some forces has become an excuse for continuing the presence of others. It’s time for everyone to deescalate and end this perpetual cycle. In addition, all military support in violation of the UN arms embargo must end – including the training and financing of mercenaries and proxy forces.
And to further ensure Libyans continue down the path towards free and fair elections in December, we call on members of this Council to adhere to their Berlin Process commitments. That means genuinely and actively supporting the UN political process, implementing the ceasefire agreement, and respecting the UN arms embargo.
We must also hold to account perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses, and ensure humanitarians can access those who are in desperate need of help.
We welcome the deployment of the UN advance team to Libya as the next step in the ceasefire agreement. And we welcome the proposals on the tasks and scale of the ceasefire monitoring mechanisms from the Secretary-General this month.
The past few weeks have shown us that, when given the means, the people of Libya are ready to take responsibility and move their country forward. Libyan decisions have driven this process. Those decisions were made in public view through live transmissions. And most important, they’re supported by the Libyan public.
Now it’s time to turn promising progress into a full and lasting peace.