While a spirit of optimism was taking hold in Libya, even amid persistent security concerns, a predatory economic system — including the oil smuggling and human trafficking — must be overcome if elections in 2018 were to succeed in restoring peace and stability, the United Nations senior official in the country told the Security Council today.
Ghassan Salamé, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), presenting the Secretary-General’s latest related report (document S/2018/140), emphasized that his task was to bring Libyans together around a common national narrative.
Popular movements were currently emerging across Libya to demand change, while armed groups that had been fighting one another several months ago had now accepted to sit around the same table.
“This spirit provides new hope, a hope we must nurture,” he said, speaking via videoconference from Tripoli. For the United Nations, working towards fair, free and credible elections by the end of 2018 was a top priority.
Remarkable participation in voter registration, which had ended on 12 March, was a clear message that Libyans wanted to be heard. Work on a permanent constitution was still under way, but the Council must make it clear to all the country’s leaders that the status quo was untenable.
While there was cause for optimism in the political process, violence and localized conflicts persisted, with Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Qaida carrying out attacks and armed groups perpetrating human rights abuses, he said.
At the heart of Libya’s troubles was an economic system of predation that must be shattered. With Libyans getting poorer every year and health and education services in decay, the United Nations and its partners must address the plundering of resources as a key pillar of their engagement.
Sweden’s representative, speaking as Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya, presented the body’s report, covering 18 January to 21 March 2018.
Among other things, he said, the Committee had approved an extension to the exemption request submitted on behalf of Sayyid Qadhaf Al‑Dam, a cousin of Qadhafi, who had been authorized to travel from Libya to Egypt on the basis of humanitarian need. The Committee had also renewed measures imposed on two vessels for illicitly exploiting gasoil from Libya, based on requests from Libya.
Libya’s representative said that, through the United Nations action plan, endorsed by the Security Council in October 2017, the international community had emphasized its firm commitment to end the crisis through a comprehensive political settlement, based on the Libyan Political Agreement of December 2015.
Warning against any interventions or unilateral actions that might upset the road to sustainable peace, he expressed hope that all political parties would accept the outcome of the election, leading to the reconstruction of the State.
Turning to the economic situation, he said there had been a tangible increase in oil exports, but — due to the security situation — less than the production target set by the national oil corporation.
Oil was being looted at the local and international levels, to the detriment of the Libyan people, he said, stressing the need for Libyans to work together and agree on unifying core institutions.
In the ensuing debate, the representative of Equatorial Guinea said priority must be given to protecting and respecting the human rights of the most vulnerable sectors of the population as well as to the safety of humanitarian and health workers. Expressing support for UNSMIL’s role as a mediator in Libya, he said dialogue was the way to achieve a political transition that Libyans had long been yearning for. He also underscored the need for elections to be conducted with no outside interference.
“We need to move from the phase of transition to permanent stability in Libya,” said Kazakhstan’s delegate, expressing support for a referendum on a new Libyan constitution, and the conducting of free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections to mark the end of the transition period.
Broad political consensus over the elections would be essential to encourage acceptance of election results. Libya’s oil resources must be used for the benefit of Libyans, he said, noting that smuggling channelled revenue to cross‑border criminal networks and expressing support for the arms embargo.