National Reconciliation Must Be Given Priority, Country Representative Says, Stressing ‘We Need to Heal the Nation’
Despite some progress in talks towards a framework for elections, briefers warned the Security Council today that Libya remains deeply unstable, mired in leadership uncertainty, continued violence and with women being omitted from political processes.
Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, reported on recent progress on the constitutional track, with the third round of consultations of the House of Representatives and the High State Council on a constitutional basis for elections. She called on the Council and international partners to urge leadership of the two chambers to agree on outstanding issues and make the elections happen.
With armed groups positioning themselves in support of either Abdul Hamid al-Dbeibah, Prime Minister of the internationally recognized Government of National Unity, or Fathi Bashagha, Prime Minster Designate of Libya, she underlined the United Nations’ readiness to facilitate dialogue between them. As well, a recent plenary meeting of the Security Working Group of the Berlin Process, with the participation of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission, focused on the need to strengthen the ceasefire, including the reintegration of armed groups and militias and the withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign forces.
She drew attention to an alarming human rights situation, with the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) receiving further reports of serious allegations of torture against Libyans, migrants and asylum-seekers in detention facilities and prisons. Against that backdrop, the extension of the mandate of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya was critical. Stressing that Libya has made significant progress in the last few years toward a more inclusive society, she called for collaboration to ensure that momentum does not dissipate.
Bushra Alhodiri, Operation Manager of the Fezzan Libya Organisation, via video teleconference from Libya, described the complex position of women in the country, noting that females are seen as weak, with employment policies and the workplace discriminating against them. In addition, women are often rejected from peace negotiations, as when the Minister of State for Women's Affairs announced Libya's withdrawal from the Memorandum of Understanding on Women and Peace, signed with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN‑Women). Women are further impeded from participation in politics, with activists, human rights defenders and journalists still the targets of social media harassment, kidnappings and murders.
She called on the Security Council to endorse recommendations — including encouraging women’s participation in the political space and peacebuilding; improving services aimed at women; and establishing greater coordination between governmental bodies, nongovernmental organizations and the international community. In addition, women’s quota in upcoming parliament elections should be increased to 50 per cent, with UNSMIL supporting Libyan authorities to assist rural, displaced and domestic-violence-victimized women.
During the ensuing debate, speakers echoed concerns that progress towards eventual free and fair elections remained slow, with violence and a faltering economy threatening to reverse any gains. Several called for the need for a more robust and extended mandate for UNSMIL.
The United States’ representative said it was appalling that small cabals of men — in most cases backed by weapons instead of popular legitimacy — have spent six months cutting deals to decide who will be in power and who gets which spoils, while 3 million Libyans wait to vote for their leaders. The country has reached a critical moment and must either build consensus and foster unity towards fair elections and stability, or wallow in the status quo, condemning the people to uncertainty, stagnation and potential violence. He urged the Council to provide UNSMIL with a substantive one-year mandate.
Echoing that sentiment, Mexico’s delegate said the situation has become unsustainable, with a contradiction between the interests the people, and those using all types of tactics to delay the transition. He criticized the violence occurring on the outskirts of Tripoli and called for respect for the arms embargo. He further condemned efforts to ban and boycott Libyan oil, which deprive the country of the ability to meet the needs of its citizens.
Ghana’s representative, also speaking for Gabon and Kenya, stressed that a true Libyan-led and owned peace process cannot be achieved without mainstreaming dialogue and reconciliation. Commending the Libyan authorities for the launch of the strategic vision for the National Reconciliation Project, he also underlined the need for the structure on which elections are held, with full participation of women and young people. UNSMIL must be clearly structured, as well. Further, any action on Libya’s frozen assets be done in consultation with the Libyan authorities to ensure they are preserved for the benefit of the people.
Striking a different tone, the Russian Federation’s delegate cited Western aggression in 2011 as the cause for the collapse of the Libyan State and the ongoing political crisis. While international efforts should be consolidated on the Libyan track, he pointed out that those who destroyed the country have a very unconstructive position, with bare-faced double standards. UNSMIL’s structure has been decapitated, and it cannot fulfil its key functions without a leader to facilitate national dialogue, while Western colleagues pursue neocolonialist thinking, aiming to impose their script on the future of Libya, which they view as their backyard.
Libya’s delegate warned of an electric and energy crisis in the country, with anger rising among the people. While it is important to prepare for the parliamentary and presidential elections, he noted conflicts generated by several superpowers fighting over the country, with divisions inside the Council and some States intervening in Libya’s internal affairs. He asked the Secretary-General to consult first with the Libyans about special representative candidates without consulting with the Council, underscoring that the candidate is the envoy of the Secretary-General, not the Council.
However, despite all the initiatives and dialogues over the past years, all tracks that have been introduced have been either political, military or economic, he pointed out, adding: “We can call them technical tracks; none of them have been addressing the root cause of the conflicts which is national reconciliation.” To that aim, he called on the African Union and the United Nations to support those efforts. “We need to heal the nation,” with priority given to the national interests of Libya and build a modern State, he stressed.
Also speaking were the representatives of the United Kingdom, India, Norway, Brazil, France, China, Ireland, United Arab Emirates and Albania.
The representatives of the United Kingdom and United States also took the floor a second time.
The meeting began at 3:03 p.m. and ended at 4:42 p.m.