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The status quo in Libya cannot be sustained, said the top United Nations official in that country today, warning about the potential threat of economic collapse, the breakdown of public services and more frequent and intense outbreaks of violence.
“The country is, in fact, in decline,” Ghassan Salamé, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) told the Security Council today, briefing via videoconference from Tripoli. Violent developments over the last two months were particularly worrisome, despite only four civilian deaths in March, and five in April, he added.
The uptick in conflict marred recent political progress, he said, drawing attention to the violence in Derna, where the Libyan National Army had sought to take control of the city, resulting in two months of battle. On 14 June, a collation of armed groups attempted to seize control of oil facilities in the Oil Crescent, while on 25 June, the Libyan National Army announced it would transfer management of the oil facilities to a non-recognized national oil corporation.
Subsequently, the official National Oil Corporation instituted force majeure upon several oil terminals, which prevented some 850,000 barrels per day from being exported and causing a loss of more than $900 million for Libya, he went on to say. The events bring to the forefront the underlying issues that plague the country — namely frustrations regarding the distribution of wealth and the endemic plundering of resources. “If these matters are not expeditiously addressed, I fear the agreements made to resume the production of oil will not hold and it will be difficult to advance the political process,” he warned.
Libyans long to rid the current patchwork of institutions and want clear and effective leadership by legitimate bodies, formed through elections, he said, adding: “Libyans are demanding elections and are becoming impatient with those who find multiple ways and means to postpone this moment.” Both experts and the public agree that a clear constitutional framework is a national priority, although they are divided on how to proceed. It is exactly because of this complexity that the international community must show unity, he noted.
Reviving the political process through the Action Plan for Libya and increasing dialogue between the localities and political camps is a top priority for the United Nations, he said, highlighting that the Organization provided a platform for reconciliation agreements and discussion, including by hosting meetings on the most contentious issues. It also supported local elections, re-established the United Nations presence in Libya in Tripoli and Benghazi, and concluded the consultative phase of the National Conference Process.
He also underlined that the Security Council decision to impose sanctions on six leaders of human trafficking networks was a positive step towards accountability, although impunity still reigns in Libya, with civilians continuing to bear the brunt of the escalation of fighting and violence. The current number of internally displaced persons is unsustainable from both a political and financial standpoint, while the human rights situation and humanitarian needs of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers remains dire.
Carl Skau (Sweden), Council President for July, briefed the Council in his capacity as Chair of the Libya Sanctions Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) on the period covering 22 May to 16 July 2018. He recalled that, on 7 June, the Committee approved the designation of six individuals under the assets freeze and travel ban of resolution 2213 (2015). As of 26 June, the Committee was considering a proposal to designate another individual against several designation criteria.
The Committee also responded to two requests for guidance — received from Malta and Malaysia, respectively — regarding Libya’s arms embargo, and additional information from the Netherlands on previously exempted items, he continued. With respect to the assets freeze, the Committee received three notifications from the United Kingdom relating to the legal expenses of one listed individual, Saif Al-Islam Qadhafi, and one listed entity, the Libyan Investment Authority.
Regarding measures aimed at preventing the illicit exports of petroleum from Libya, he said the Committee received information from that country as well as from the Panel of Experts regarding an attempt by a vessel to carry an illicit export of crude oil from Marsa al Hariga Port in Libya. The Committee dispatched letters to the reported flag State and to the reported State of a company allegedly involved in in the matter.
The Committee also received communications relating to de-listing requests from the travel ban measure, namely of Aishia Qadhafi and Safia Fakash Al-Barassi, he said. Those requests are currently under the Committee’s review stage, he noted, adding that on 5 March the Committee agreed to take follow-up action on six of the eight recommendations contained in the interim report of the Panel of Experts, aimed at improving the implementation of the arms embargo and assets freeze.