Statement on the Mandate Renewal for the UN Support Mission in Libya

U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
September 15, 2020

Statement on the Mandate Renewal for the UN Support Mission in Libya

The United States welcomes the renewal of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) mandate in UNSCR 2542 (2020), which includes the creation of a new UN Special Envoy for Libya position. A Special Envoy to lead UNSMIL, with the backing of the Security Council, will be well positioned to focus on mediation with Libyan and international actors to end the conflict and help Libyans reach a lasting political solution.

We commend the dynamic leadership of Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) Stephanie Williams and the progress achieved through the UN-facilitated intra-Libyan dialogue. We also applaud Ghassan Salame for his earlier efforts in advancing political talks when he served as SRSG. Over time, it became clear that the structure of UNSMIL, which had been in place since 2011, could no longer meet the demands made upon it if a single person – the SRSG – was required to both facilitate a political process and manage the day-to-day activities of a large mission. These were two full-time jobs. In the mission’s new structure, the UN Special Envoy position, with increased capacity and flexibility, reflects the considerable needs for mediation in Libya. Under the authority of the UN Special Envoy, the UNSMIL Coordinator will have responsibility for the day-to-day management and operations of the mission, whether overseeing the humanitarian response to the COVID-19 crisis or human rights monitoring. Between these roles, there is a clear division of labor, as well as interdependence, close coordination, and a single reporting chain to the UN Secretary-General. This new structure will make for a stronger, more effective UNSMIL.

We, therefore, support the Secretary-General’s swift appointment of a Special Envoy for Libya, along with an UNSMIL Coordinator, to help move the parties towards national reconciliation in line with the Berlin Process conclusions, including establishing a lasting ceasefire and resuming oil operations. The recent progress achieved last week by Libyan representatives in Montreux, facilitated by Acting SRSG Williams, underscores the urgency for a new Special Envoy to immediately assume the role set forth by the Security Council, and for international partners to fully align their diplomacy in support of these efforts.

As a new Special Envoy of the Secretary-General is named and assumes the duties of the position, the United States emphasizes the importance of building on the adroit diplomacy of Acting SRSG Williams in advancing the Libyan political dialogue over recent weeks. While recognizing that Ms. Williams’s tenure is limited, we wish to express our full support for her skilled engagement as long as she continues in her role so as not to lose the promising momentum that has been created. With broad-based support to resume the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum and hold national elections within an 18-month period, the UN must take advantage of all its expertise and be fully prepared to support Libyans as they take this courageous step forward.