The situation in Libya - Security Council, 8855th Meeting
Permanent Representative Calls for Electoral Assistance, as Civil Society Briefer Spotlights Humanitarian, Social Situations
The holding of free, fair and inclusive presidential and parliamentary elections as scheduled on 24 December is crucial to the stable future of Libya, delegates told the Security Council today, also expressing concern over a deteriorating humanitarian and economic situation.
Ján Kubiš, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), emphasized that holding elections is “much more desirable than not”, as the latter prospect may sow division and conflict.
Briefing Council on his recent visit to Libya, where he met with political actors, he cited efforts by the House of Representatives and the High National Election Commission to facilitate the process. He urged all Member States to send observation teams, in coordination with the country’s Government of National Unity.
Warning that aborting the elections “cannot be allowed” he noted that more than half a million new voters have been registered, driving the number to upwards of 2.8 million, 40 percent of them are women and most newly registered voters under the age of 30. “Libyan authorities and leaders must not let them down,” he stressed.
Underlining that uncertainty creates fertile ground for spoilers and sceptics, he noted that, while the political stalemate casts a shadow over the security situation, the ceasefire continues to hold, and there has been progress on implementing some elements of the ceasefire agreement. The border management Quartet Agreement comprising Libya, Sudan, Chad and Niger is a positive example of multilateral cooperation in tackling transnational crime, violent extremism and armed groups, he added.
He went on to point out the continuing decrease in the numbers of internally displaced persons, and to emphasize the primacy of a healthy economy. It is crucial to ensure stability in the oil sector — effectively the only source of wealth for all Libyans — and any attempts at closing oil lines, disrupting exports or disrupting the water system are unacceptable, he stated.
Also briefing the Council was Asma Khalifa, Co-founder of Tamazight Women’s Movement and the Khalifa Ihler Institute, who spotlighted the humanitarian side of the conflict, saying millions of Libyans continue to struggle with insufficient access to the most basic services. “The armed conflicts over the past decade have ravaged what little infrastructure existed,” with people looking towards the elections planned for December as a source of hope and solutions, she said. Should the polls fail to happen, or if the results are disputed in a similar scenario to what Libya saw in 2014, the outcome would be an even more fractured society and renewed violence, she warned.
Emphasizing the importance of a truth and reconciliation process allowing for greater ownership and acceptance by Libya’s people, she called for accountability and justice, with a truth-seeking mission extending to all parts of the country and considering both recent and historic grievances. Meanwhile, UNSMIL’s mandate must be more clearly defined, and its role — centred on mediation — should be properly communicated, she stressed.
With delegates echoing the importance of maintaining the electoral schedule, ensuring the election’s security, inclusiveness and transparency, Tunisia’s representative expressed confidence that “Libyan brethren” are committed to holding elections on time, he said, reiterating the importance of neighbouring countries and regional institutions in supporting the political process.
The representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines emphasized that the withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries must be conducted in a supervised and orderly manner, she also expressed concern about the human rights situation, especially for the most vulnerable people — refugees and migrants, internally displaced persons, youth, women and girls.
Mexico’s representative, noted that, while the ceasefire agreement has reduced humanitarian needs, with 180,000 fewer internally displaced persons, 500,000 people remain in vulnerable situations and depend on humanitarian aid. He underlined the need to address the migrant situation, describing as unacceptable images of sinking boats and explosions in camps while the international community remains inactive.
The Russian Federation’s delegate cautioned that, despite some progress on the cessation of hostilities and movement towards parties avoiding mutual destruction, the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum road map has begun to falter. Whereas the cessation of hostilities is a major achievement, the threats posed by illegal migration and proliferation of weapons remain, he noted.
Libya’s representative, describing the present moment as a “critical time” in his nation’s history, said the light of hope, breakthrough and reconciliation is visible. Emphasizing that the democratic process must not be distorted, he urged the United Nations to deploy election needs assistance teams to guarantee a transparent and fair process. He called upon all factions to forgive and release the past, asserting that Libya has not surrendered and will return strong.
The Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya, provide an update on that body’s activities.
Also speaking today were representatives of the United Kingdom, Niger, France, Norway, China, India, United States, Viet Nam, Estonia, Kenya and Ireland.
The meeting began at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 5:16 p.m.