Growing foreign involvement in Libya must be stopped as the toll of civilian casualties rises and diplomats “race against time” to convene an international conference as a bridge to intra-Libyan talks, reach a peaceful solution and spare many lives, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative told the Security Council today.
“Once invited in, foreign intervention is the guest that settles and seizes control of the house,” warned Ghassan Salamé, who is also Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). Speaking via video-conference from Tripoli, he reported that the violence in populated areas has further intensified with a growing involvement of fighters from foreign military companies.
Yet the arms embargo continues to be violated, he observed. Drone technology has resulted in over 800 strikes in support of the Libyan National Army and 240 in support of the Government of National Accord, in addition to increased use of unguided bombs by the National Army in populated areas. More than 200 civilians have been killed and more than 128,000 displaced since the latest round of the conflict began in April. As well, targeted attacks on health centres might amount to war crimes.
Meanwhile, UNSMIL has been working tirelessly with Libyans to move forward on initiatives he had announced on 29 July, including preparations for an international summit hosted by Germany in Berlin. A communique outlining activities necessary to end the conflict is well advanced, which includes among other things, a call for the return to the Libyan-led political process and accompanying economic reform.
The political way forward is already known and eminently possible, he stressed. “All that is needed now is for you, the international community, to come together to provide the necessary umbrella for the Libyan parties themselves to join hands to end the conflict and resume dialogue,” he said, reaffirming the commitment of the United Nations in Libya toward that end.
Rida al Tubuly, Co-Founder and Director of the civil society organization Together We Build It, spoke via video teleconference from Tunis, spotlighting the need to empower women leaders and Libyans on the ground who desire peace. The international community — especially the United Nations — is a main facilitator of the political process. Yet, she observed: “we are often told by international decision makers that the reason women are excluded from formal peace and political negotiations is because ‘Libyan actors’ are against women’s political participation.”
Noting that Libyan women and youth play a major role in the “power of the people”, she said that the international community has given power and legitimacy to a violent minority and some partners continue to turn a blind eye and allow a flood of weapons and ammunition to reach armed groups. “Will you, as members of the international community, stand strongly together against any actor who supports violence in Libya?” she asked the Council, urging it to fully implement Council resolutions 1325 (2000) and 2250 (2015), as well as all subsequent resolutions.
Following those briefings, several Council members took the floor to express concern over civilian suffering in Libya and call for international unity supporting resumption of a Libyan-led political process to end the conflict. In that regard, most speakers called for an end to foreign interference and strict adherence to the arms embargo.
The representative of Equatorial Guinea, speaking also for Côte d’Ivoire and South Africa, said any violations of the arms embargo represent flagrant disregard for the will of the Security Council. Highlighting the African Union’s attention to foreign involvement in Libya, he reiterated the call for the appointment of a joint special envoy for the Union and the United Nations.
Kuwait’s representative also urged all Member States to honour their commitments in line with the arms embargo, as any violations of that regime run counter to international efforts to end the conflict. The parties should undertake sincere efforts to resume dialogue and work to rebuild State institutions, he said, welcoming the preparatory meetings leading to the international conference in Berlin.
Germany’s representative, underscoring that the present is a critical time for Libya, highlighted the progress taking place in preparation for the Berlin conference, which is providing support for Mr. Salame’s efforts to implement the arms embargo and encourage a Libyan-led political process.
Mohamed Taha Siala, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Libya, condemned the rising toll of civilian casualties caused by continued attacks against Tripoli by militias under General Khalifa Belqasim Haftar. He called on the Security Council to end its silence in that regard. Foreign interference has been one of the main drivers of Libya’s conflict, he said, recalling the Council’s repeated appeals to Member States not to deal with any parallel institutions that run counter to the Government of National Accord.
While foreign mercenaries remain active across Libya, many States have breached the longstanding arms embargo, he said, adding that advanced weapons, including drones, are now present in his country. Underlining the sovereign right of all States to defend their people, he said the Government continues to suffer from the embargo while militias easily obtain such weapons. Adding his support for the upcoming Berlin conference, he expressed hope that it will help end the international polarization which continues to drive Libya’s conflict.
Also speaking today were the representatives of the Dominican Republic, Peru, Poland, China, Indonesia and Belgium.
The meeting began at 10:03 a.m. and ended at 11:38 a.m.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations – Security Council.