Successful Elections in Libya Hinged on Tightening Security, Cracking Down on Oil Smuggling, Human Trafficking, Top Official Tells Security Council

While a spirit of optimism was taking hold in Libya, even amid persistent security concerns, a predatory economic system � including the oil smuggling and human trafficking � must be overcome if elections in 2018 were to succeed in restoring peace and stability, the United Nations senior official in the country told the Security Council today.

Ghassan Salame, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), presenting the Secretary-General’s latest related report (document S/2018/140), emphasized that his task was to bring Libyans together around a common national narrative. Popular movements were currently emerging across Libya to demand change, while armed groups that had been fighting one another several months ago had now accepted to sit around the same table.

This spirit provides new hope, a hope we must nurture, he said, speaking via videoconference from Tripoli. For the United Nations, working towards fair, free and credible elections by the end of 2018 was a top priority. Remarkable participation in voter registration, which had ended on 12 March, was a clear message that Libyans wanted to be heard. Work on a permanent constitution was still under way, but the Council must make it clear to all the country’s leaders that the status quo was untenable.

While there was cause for optimism in the political process, violence and localized conflicts persisted, with Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Qaida carrying out attacks and armed groups perpetrating human rights abuses, he said. At the heart of Libya’s troubles was an economic system of predation that must be shattered. With Libyans getting poorer every year and health and education services in decay, the United Nations and its partners must address the plundering of resources as a key pillar of their engagement.

Sweden’s representative, speaking as Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya, presented the body’s report, covering 18 January to 21 March 2018. Among other things, he said, the Committee had approved an extension to the exemption request submitted on behalf of Sayyid Mohammed Qadhaf Al Dam, a cousin of the late Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi, who had been authorized to travel from Libya to Egypt on the basis of humanitarian need. The Committee had also renewed measures imposed on two vessels for illicitly exploiting gasoil from Libya, based on requests from Libya.

Libya’s representative said that, through the United Nations action plan, endorsed by the Security Council in October 2017, the international community had emphasized its firm commitment to end the crisis through a comprehensive political settlement, based on the Libyan Political Agreement of December 2015. Warning against any interventions or unilateral actions that might upset the road to sustainable peace, he expressed hope that all political parties would accept the outcome of the election, leading to the reconstruction of the State. Turning to the economic situation, he said there had been a tangible increase in oil exports, but � due to the security situation � less than the production target set by the national oil corporation. Oil was being looted at the local and international levels, to the detriment of the Libyan people, he said, stressing the need for Libyans to work together and agree on unifying core institutions.

In the ensuing debate, the representative of Equatorial Guinea said priority must be given to protecting and respecting the human rights of the most vulnerable sectors of the population as well as to the safety of humanitarian and health workers. Expressing support for UNSMIL’s role as a mediator in Libya, he said dialogue was the way to achieve a political transition that Libyans had long been yearning for. He also underscored the need for elections to be conducted with no outside interference.

We need to move from the phase of transition to permanent stability in Libya, said Kazakhstan’s delegate, expressing support for a referendum on a new Libyan constitution, and the conducting of free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections to mark the end of the transition period. Broad political consensus over the elections would be essential to encourage acceptance of election results. Libya’s oil resources must be used for the benefit of Libyans, he said, noting that smuggling channelled revenue to cross border criminal networks and expressing support for the arms embargo.

Also speaking today were representatives of Peru, Bolivia and the Russian Federation.

The meeting began at 10:12 a.m. and ended at 11:06 a.m.

Briefings

GHASSAN SALAMA�, Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), speaking via videoconference from Tripoli, introduced the Secretary General’s report on UNSMIL (document S/2018/140). Expressing pride in announcing that the United Nations had truly returned to Libya, he said the Mission was looking to re open its office in Benghazi and, once conditions permitted, in the south of the country. Recalling a three day visit to Benghazi in early March, he said he had heard strong concerns about the economic and political situation, but also perceived a sense of optimism. This spirit provides new hope, a hope we must nurture, he said. Emphasizing that his mission was to bring Libyans together around a common national narrative, he said popular movements were emerging across the country to demand change, while armed groups that had been fighting one another a few months ago had accepted to sit around the same table.

For the United Nations, he said, working towards fair, free and credible elections by the end of 2018 was a top priority. Remarkable participation in voter registration, which ended on 12 March, was a clear message that Libyans wanted to be heard. Work on a permanent Libyan constitution was still under way, but political progress must be made, as the status quo was untenable. The Council must make that message clear to all Libyan leaders. While there was cause for optimism in the political process, violence and localized conflicts persisted, with Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al Qaida carrying out attacks, armed groups perpetrating human rights abuses and citizens arrested by shadowy security forces. The situation in Sebha was a serious concern. Noting that UNSMIL was willing to mediate if requested, he called on Member States to support Libya’s transition by urging their partners there to embrace the political process, not weapons, as no military faction could hope to conquer the country. Noting that too many young men were earning a living carrying weapons, he said a strategy would be unveiled before May for their reintegration into civilian life.

At the heart of Libya’s troubles was an economic system of predation that must be shattered, he said. The United Nations and its partners must address such plundering as a key pillar of their engagement. For some people, human trafficking was a main source of income, while migrants were being left to die after falling off the back of trucks. Despite its production of 1 million barrels of oil a day, Libya’s finances remained precarious, with signs of a looming monetary and fiscal crisis. Libyans were getting poorer every year, and health and education services were in decay. The State’s inability to provide resources and services and carry out needed reforms was creating a dangerous vicious cycle that must be stopped. Turning to the United Nations action plan, he said almost all stakeholders had asked that it include amendments to the Libyan Political Agreement. However, the action plan did not depend on those amendments and the closer Libya came to elections, the less relevant those amendments would become. Nevertheless, he said, starting on 22 March, he would begin a final attempt to realize the amendments.

CARL SKAU (Sweden), Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya, presented its report, covering 18 January to 21 March 2018, during which time it had met once in informal consultations and conducted work via the silence procedure.

During informal consultations on 9 February, the Coordinator of the Panel of Experts had presented its interim report, he said, which addressed security related designation criteria, unity of State institutions and misappropriation of State funds, prevention of illicit oil exports and implementation of the arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban. The Committee had agreed to take action on six of that report’s eight recommendations, and had taken note of one. Two recommendations had been addressed to the Council, he said, expressing the Committee’s concern over media reports citing, often inaccurately, extracts from the confidential report. He underlined the importance of the Expert Panel’s work being carried out in an unhindered manner and would soon call a meeting on that matter.

He went on to say that the Committee had approved one request for an exemption to the arms embargo submitted by Malta, and had received a post delivery notification from UNSMIL for previously exempted items. On 16 January, it had received a letter from Turkey providing information about the Andromeda vessel seized by Greece. On 29 January, it received an inspection report from Greece about the cargo, he said, noting that containers of explosives, detonators and empty gas tanks had been found on board that vessel, which had been flying the flag of the United Republic of Tanzania. The Committee had notified Libya of that inspection and had written to relevant States seeking clarifications. Greece had subsequently informed that the Expert Panel had inspected the seized items.

The Committee had also renewed measures imposed on vessels Nadine and Lynn S, for illicitly exploiting gasoil from Libya, he said, based on requests from Libya. In addition, it had updated the sanctions list entry details for those vessels, and had written a letter to a relevant State on the matter. It had received a 4 January 2018 inspection report by the United Nations verification and inspection mechanism on vessel Lynn S.

On the travel ban, he said the Committee had approved an extension to the exemption request submitted on behalf of Sayyid Mohammed Qadhaf Al Dam, who had been authorized to travel from Libya to Egypt on the basis of humanitarian need. It had rejected a request submitted on behalf of Safia Farkash Al-Barassi to no longer be subject to that measure, and as such, she remained subject to the travel ban and asset freeze.

FRANCISCO TENYA (Peru) said he was very concerned by ongoing reports of violence in Tripoli and elsewhere in Libya as well as the presence of terrorist groups. Respect for human rights must be promoted. Dialogue and a commitment among the various Libya stakeholders, supported by the Special Representative’s mediation efforts, were only way to move towards a sustainable peace. Good faith and a spirit of understanding and cooperation must prevail, he said, commending the enthusiasm of Libyan people to hold elections in 2018 and encouraging greater participation of women and young people.

ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) said priority must be given to protecting and respecting the human rights of the most vulnerable sectors of the population as well as to the safety of humanitarian and health workers. Equatorial Guinea strongly supported the role of UNSMIL as a mediator to promote reconciliation. Dialogue was the way to achieve a political transition that Libyans had long been yearning for, he said, calling on all parties to pool their efforts and allow the holding of legislative elections, which must be conducted with no outside interference. He called on all Council members and the international community to redouble efforts to end a situation that seemed to have no immediate end.

KANAT TUMYSH (Kazakhstan) agreed that the solution to the situation in Libya must be primarily peaceful with ownership of the political process by Libyans themselves. We need to move from the phase of transition to permanent stability in Libya, he said, expressing support for a referendum on a new constitution, and the conducting of free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections to mark the end of the transition period. It was essential to have broad political consensus over the elections in order to encourage acceptance of the results. Also, the United Nations Strategic Framework for 2019 2020 must be developed with participation by Libyans, humanitarian agencies and civil society representatives, he said, adding that impunity and human rights violations, and the dire situation of migrants, must also be addressed. Libya’s oil resources must be used for the benefit of Libyans, he said, noting that smuggling channelled revenue to cross border criminal networks and expressing support for the arms embargo.

PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDA�N (Bolivia) underlined the importance of implementing the political agreement in order to conclude the transition phase and move towards a referendum on a new constitution. He cited progress made in voter registration, stressing that Bolivia placed a premium on efforts made by African Union, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia to promote the electoral process and action plan. Voicing concern over reports of torture, abductions and summary executions, as well as clashes in Benghazi, he called on parties to lay down their arms. Reports of irregular combatants and foreign armed groups from Chad and elsewhere on Libyan territory were also alarming. Citing reports of rights violations in migrant detention centres, he called on parties to prevent such abuses, and maintain dialogue towards a peaceful political transition.

ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya) said that, through the United Nations action plan, the international community had emphasized its firm commitment to end the crisis through a comprehensive political settlement. That plan was based on the Libyan Political Agreement, which remained the only framework for ending the conflict, he said, warning against any interventions or unilateral actions that might undermine the process. Noting how many Libyans had registered to vote, he expressed hope that Parliament would soon adopt legislation enabling an election date to be set. Hopefully, all political parties would accept the outcome of the election, leading to the reconstruction of the State.

On the security situation, he said improvements in Tripoli and surrounding areas had been dotted with incidents carried out by random armed groups. He emphasized the need to unify all security, law enforcement and military institutions under civilian leadership, adding that improved security was a prerequisite for a successful political process.

Turning to the economic situation, he said there had been a tangible increase in oil exports, but less than the production target that had been set by the national oil corporation due to the security situation. Oil was being looted at the local and international levels to the detriment of the Libyan people. All Libyans must work together to serve the interests of citizens and agree on unifying core institutions, including the central bank and the national oil corporation. He went on to express his country’s appreciation in the work of the Security Council’s Sanctions Committee pursuant to resolution 1790 (2007) and the Group of Experts as well as the Organization’s efforts to achieve peace and stability in Libya.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) drew Council members’ attention to a documentary which provided a real picture of what had been happening in eastern Ghouta in recent days. He also cited a report about a Russian brokered deal to evacuate a Syrian rebel group from a town in eastern Ghouta.

Source: United Nations

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