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The situation in Libya remained tense, compounded by security, political, economic and humanitarian challenges requiring both regional and international support, the United Nations senior official in the country said today.
Briefing the Security Council on the latest developments in the North African State, Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), underscored that the transition process had not been fully implemented.
“The people of Libya desire peace. They desire security. They desire a country where their children have a brighter future,” Mr. Kobler said via video-teleconference from Tunis.
He credited the Libyan Political Agreement, reached in 2015, with changing facts on the ground: the Presidency Council had been working in Tripoli since 2016; Libyan oil production had exceeded 800,000 barrels per day; and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), while still a threat, was a shadow of what it was just one year ago.
Nevertheless, parallel institutions continued to exist, he said. And the Libyan House of Representatives had not recognized the Government of National Accord nor did it adopt the Constitutional amendment.
While there was overwhelming support for the Libyan Political Agreement, it was not set in stone, Mr. Kobler noted. Following months of consultations with Libyan regional and international stakeholders, a road map was being developed to allow limited amendments and talks were being guided by the need to form a unified Government and unified security institutions.
Libya faced several challenges. One being its security, he said, calling for the nation to unify its security apparatus and noting that on Tuesday he met with Field Marshal Khalifa Hafter, Head of the Libyan National Army, in Benghazi. Authority of the Presidency Council over armed groups had strengthened. Those forces must be consolidated within the relevant ministries. Command and control must be justified. Dialogue must prevail over confrontation.
Mr. Kobler also stressed the need to address weaknesses in Libya’s economy, adding that despite a substantial spike in oil revenue, the fundamentals of the economy remained flawed. Division of financial institutions, instability and low confidence in the banking sector continued to feed inflation and the lack of liquidity. He urged the Central Bank to act decisively to address national fiscal and monetary problems. Libya was spending beyond its means and its foreign currency reserve was shrinking. The dire economic situation and the explosion of the black market also fed crime.
National reconciliation remained crucial for establishing a durable peace, he said, underscoring the role of young people and women. He welcomed steps by the Presidency Council to establish a national reconciliation commission and urged the regional and international communities to work together to support the Libyan peace process while respecting its national sovereignty and international law. The second meeting of the Quartet in Brussels in May, as well as the support received from the African Union were essential to advance the United Nations-led political process.
Highlighting the plight of migrants, who continued to die as they sought a better life, and detained and imprisoned women and men, who lived a “nightmare”, he said basic humanitarian principles remained under threat. Five hospitals had been bombed this year alone and since March, some 65 civilians were killed in armed conflict. “We cannot become numb to the suffering this conflict is causing,” he stressed.
Also speaking today, Olof Skoog (Sweden), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya, provided a snapshot of its work from April to June 2017. The Committee had heard, on 19 May, from a panel of experts and its recommendations, which would be contained in forthcoming document S/2017/466. Members had raised issues including arms embargo violations, human trafficking, oil smuggling and control of Libya’s financial institutions, he said, noting that the Committee was in the process of considering the recommendations.
Among other activities, he said, the Committee had examined requests on the arms embargo and had considered a report on a vessel inspection off the Libyan coast that had discovered weapons on board. The Committee had also approved a request for exemption of assets related to the Libya-Africa investment portfolio and considered other requests, as well as a report on a vessel that allegedly was attempting to illicitly export fuel from Libya.
Elmahdi S. Elmajerbi (Libya) said some parties had jeopardized progress. The unification of the military must lead to securing cities and oil fields and disarming militias. The security situation in Tripoli had seen improvements, paving the way for the return of UNSMIL to the city. There were no military solutions to the crisis, he said, expressing appreciation to those who had provided assistance in ongoing efforts. Armed gangs were committing many illegal acts, including human trafficking and illicit fuel exporting, and he hoped the Council could play its role in addressing that situation.
Turning to frozen Libyan assets, he said losses were about $1 billion annually. Sanctions had been established to protect assets and not to punish Libya, but such freezes were negatively affecting the Libyan people. Libyan authorities were not asking for a lifting of sanctions, but to allow the investment of such assets to increase returns while under the current freeze.
Council members expressed concern about the current situation, with Elbio Rosselli (Uruguay) saying that one year after the agreement no significant progress had been made in the transition process. The Government of National Accord must take steps to gain legitimacy. Armed militias were exacerbating the situation, trying to control the oil industry and fuelling the illegal trafficking of migrants. More efforts must be made to achieve broad national reconciliation. Concerned about conditions migrants faced, he said their human rights must be respected and their situation must be addressed.
Sacha Sergio Llorentty Solíz (Bolivia) said internally displaced persons were facing increasing violence, including summary executions. A political transition, which had already begun, was the only way forward, he said.
The meeting began at 3:04 p.m. and ended at 3:37 p.m.