Russian Federation, United States Speakers Exchange Barbs on Libyan Oil Revenues
The international community must encourage Libya’s leaders to work towards the holding of elections as soon as possible, the senior United Nations official in the country told the Security Council today, stressing the need to restore the legitimacy of Libya’s institutions amid efforts by some institutional actors to obstruct the polls.
Abdoulaye Bathily, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), said that Libyan stakeholders — including the Presidential Council, the High Council of State and other key actors — have a moral and political responsibility to restore peace and stability, with the United Nations and the Mission providing their support, he underscored.
“There appears to be broad agreement that Libya’s institutions are facing a serious legitimacy crisis, and that restoring that legitimacy across the board is of paramount importance,” he said. Noting progress on the security track, he reported that the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission on 27 October agreed to establish a subcommittee for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of armed groups. Meanwhile, the ceasefire continues to hold, despite escalatory rhetoric and a build-up of forces.
However, he voiced concern at a lack of progress in implementing the Commission’s action plan for the withdrawal of mercenaries, foreign fighters and foreign forces, calling for a renewed focus on that effort. On the economic front, the lack of accountability and transparent equity in the allocation of resources remains a key cause of tensions. The human rights situation, meanwhile, remains alarming, he said, calling on Libyan authorities and neighbouring countries to uphold international standards related to safe search and rescue practices for migrants and refugees.
The Special Representative, who took up his post in Tripoli on 14 October, last briefed the Council on 24 October. (See Press Release SC/15075.)
In the ensuing debate, Council members reiterated their support for the Special Representative’s efforts and emphasized that the political process must be Libyan-led and Libyan-owned. Many urged full implementation of the 2020 ceasefire agreement, the withdrawal of foreign mercenaries and agreement on the constitutional framework for elections.
The Russian Federation’s representative, whose delegation requested today’s meeting, said the United States is viewing Libya’s political process through the lens of its own economic interests to ensure that the situation does not undermine energy supplies to Europe. Noting the possible existence of behind-the-scenes agreements with third countries on Libyan oil exports, he said that for Washington, D.C., the most important thing is to squeeze the Russian Federation out of the global oil market. Libyan oil revenues must be used to benefit the Libyan people, not to line the pockets of a few foreign businesspeople, he added.
The United States representative, who rejected those allegations, expressed dismay that a Council member that has violated the United Nations Charter by invading and occupying a neighbouring State is trying to shift the Council’s focus with unfounded conspiracy theories. Libyan leaders must embrace a transparency mechanism that details State oil revenues and their allocation to ensure that they benefit the Libyan people, he added.
Albania’s representative, on that point, urged Libyan leaders to set aside their political differences, engage in serious dialogue and organize free, fair and credible elections. Those who are obstructing the political process simply to cling to power must be held to account, he said.
Ghana’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Kenya and Gabon, voiced concern about the growing number of African migrants facing atrocities in their attempts to cross the Mediterranean to Europe via Libya. Refugees, migrants and asylum seekers must be treated with dignity, as they are in other conflict situations worldwide. Echoing other delegations, he demanded the immediate withdrawal of foreign forces as well as mercenaries in Libya, highlighting the threat they pose to neighbouring States and the Sahel region.
India’s representative, pointing to a resurgence of terrorist activity, said terrorist groups and affiliated entities must not be allowed to operate unchallenged in Libya. Terrorism emanating from Libya is bound to have cascading effects in the Sahel region and it must be addressed to avoid collateral consequences on the wider African continent, he said.
Libya’s representative, taking the floor at the end of the meeting and emphasizing the need to act quickly to emerge from the political impasse, said several simultaneous actions are needed, starting with an end to all forms of foreign interference. While elections are not a solution in and of themselves, they are an important path towards ending the current crisis of legitimacy and finding solutions to challenges such as separation of powers, distribution of wealth and establishment of stability throughout Libya. There is no military solution, and the international community must promptly support the national will and voice of the Libyan people, he said.
Also speaking were representatives of the United Kingdom, Norway, Ireland, Brazil, France, United Arab Emirates, China and Mexico.
The meeting began at 10:02 a.m. and ended at 11:05 a.m.
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<a href="https://press.un.org/en/2022/sc15106.doc.htm" target="_blank">MEETINGS COVERAGE</a>