Briefing the Security Council on Libya’s complex security and political situation today, the senior United Nations official in that country emphasized that beneath both its challenges and emerging bright spots lay the population’s urgent desire to leave nearly a decade of violence and instability behind.
“From one city to another, you will find reasons for concern as well as causes for hope,” said Ghassan Salamé, Special Representative of the Secretary‑General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), who delivered his briefing alongside Olof Skoog (Sweden), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) on Libya sanctions.
He noted that daily life in Libya was still punctuated by economic corruption, the persistent trafficking of goods and people, escalating clashes in some cities and terror attacks, including one that killed 13 people at the headquarters of the High National Elections Commission on 2 May. The Commission nevertheless remained committed to working towards holding elections by the end of 2018, he added.
Among other developments, elections for the presidency of the High State Council had taken place in a timely, peaceful and democratic manner, he continued. Municipal elections had also been held in the city of Zawiya for the first time since 2015, with support from the United Nations. Citing several points of consensus, he said there was a widespread yearning for a united and sovereign nation and for a fairer, more transparent and effective distribution of public resources. However, opinions still diverged on the current draft of the national constitution and criminal networks continued to traffic goods and humans across borders. “These facets provide opportunities for those few who sit at the heart of Libya’s political stalemate, plundering the nation’s coffers and resisting any actions that might challenge their predatory economy,” he stated.
Mr. Skoog, providing an update on the sanctions committee’s work since 22 March, said it had discussed a letter from the coordinator of the Panel of Experts on Libya expressing extreme concern about the leaking of its unpublished interim report to the media. The Secretariat and Panel coordinator had provided updates and the Committee had also discussed the issue of frozen Libyan assets following reports of alleged devaluation and losses. The Committee had sent a letter to Libya seeking updates on such issues as the coast guard, explosive ordnance disposal units and the presidential guard, and it was considering proposals for the designation of six individuals under the asset freeze and travel ban. In addition, the Committee had received a request to delist Aisha Qadhafi — the daughter of the late Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi — from her travel ban.
Council members, including those representing nearby States experiencing the direct and indirect repercussions of Libya’s various crises, also took the floor.
Equatorial Guinea’s representative — noting that Libya’s situation also threatened other countries in Africa — called for maintaining such important measures as those enshrined in Council resolutions 2362 (2017) and 2380 (2017) relating to the illegal export of petrol, combating smuggling and the trafficking of human beings until the conflict was resolved and the Government was able to take full control. The authorities must continue their cooperation with the United Nations to ensure that those responsible for such abominations were held to account. The Security Council should also focus on the impact that those challenges had on the economic and social lives of Libyans, as well as the critical need to eliminate the armed groups, militias and terrorists operating largely with impunity.
Kuwait’s representative, aligning himself with the position of the League of Arab States — one of the parties to the international Quartet Committee on Libya — called for a comprehensive political solution and adherence to the Libyan Political Agreement. On the security situation, he condemned the recent attack in Tripoli as well as the escalation of violence in Sebha and other cities, as well as persistent human rights violations and the deteriorating humanitarian situation.
France’s representative, noting the progress made in harmonizing points of view across Libya through national consultations, said free, transparent and credible elections were the best way to ensure further positive momentum. The smooth holding of municipal elections in May was an encouraging sign. On the volatile security situation, he said terrorism remained a genuine threat, noting that violence continued to plague civilians in several areas. He emphasized the need to break the vicious cycle of trafficking, noting that the Council had taken steps to tackle the illicit trafficking of arms and oil, and should remain active in studying all tools available to combat such illegal trade. There was also a need to address the smuggling of migrants, he said, noting his country’s work with partners in that regard.
Libya’s representative declared: “Many painful years have elapsed in which Libyans have suffered at all levels.” They were no longer willing to suffer under the yoke of such challenges as weapons proliferation, waves of organized crime and economic losses, he said, voicing concern that criminals had turned the country into a fertile breeding ground for economic predation.
Emphasizing that terrorism and the activities of armed groups were completely foreign to Libyans — who were known for their tolerance and moderation — he said that foreign, imported ideology was only intended to sow the seeds of discord. The Libyan people were tired of the stoking of political tensions that brought only suffering, he stressed, calling for an end to the external meddling that threatened Libyan lives and futures.
Also speaking today were representatives of the United Kingdom, United States, Peru, Sweden, Côte d’Ivoire, Kazakhstan, Bolivia, Russian Federation, Netherlands, Ethiopia, China and Poland.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 12:05 p.m.