Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on UNSMIL/Libya
National statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on UNSMIL/Libya, 21 May 2018, New York.
Check against delivery.
Thank you, Madam President,
I would like to begin by thanking you, Special Representative, Ghassan Salamé, for your briefing to the Council today. As we are reminded by the Secretary-General's report, the situation in Libya remains very difficult, and we commend your tireless efforts to implement the United Nations Action Plan and to work towards a peaceful and stable Libya.
I would like to highlight three areas in my remarks today.
Firstly, the security situation in Libya remains fragile. The terrorist attack on the High National Election Commission, which we condemn, was a stark reminder of this fact.
Nonetheless, we note the gradual improvement of the security situation in Tripoli.
Every effort should be made to consolidate and build upon this improvement. It is imperative that all parties refrain from destabilizing threats or actions that risk reversing this trend.
We share the concern expressed by the Special Representative about the escalation of violence in Derna. While we note that commitments to spare civilians have been made, the potential for further significant civilian casualties cannot be ignored. We call on all parties to respect human rights and international humanitarian law. This includes protecting civilians and allowing their free and safe passage. We are also concerned about the escalation of violence in the south, not least in Sabha, where we encourage continued regional cooperation to defuse the conflict.
We welcome the focus, in the Secretary-General's report, on human rights and the rule of law. We welcome, in particular, the visits to Libya's prisons and detention facilities, and the documentation of widespread abuses such as torture, sexual and gender-based violence and arbitrary detention – in the East as well as the West.
It is clear that thousands of individuals now languish in detention, many without knowing the charge against them or what their future holds. This is entirely unacceptable. Accountability is needed for crimes committed against those in detention.
We call on all parties to ensure access for the United Nations, and other humanitarian organisations, to detention centres under their control, including to the Mitiga detention facility.
We applaud the cooperation between UNSMIL and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on these issues. We encourage continued collaboration and support, not least for the International Criminal Court's important work in Libya.
Secondly, we repeat our firm support for the UN facilitated political process in Libya.
We urge all Libyan leaders to engage constructively, and to create the legal, political and security conditions necessary to hold free and fair elections to end Libya's protracted transition.
We are impressed by the ambitious bottom-up approach being taken in the ongoing National Conference consultations across the country, including the valuable on-line activity to engage more Libyans in the political process. Such initiatives help build trust in the political process and contribute towards increasing the legitimacy of the elections.
Moving forward, every effort must be made to promote women's equal representation and participation in the political and election process. This includes ensuring that women from all parts of the country will have access to information on election procedures and the opportunity to run for election. Concrete efforts to prevent stigma and address all types of security threats facing female candidates is essential.
As co-chair of this Council's informal working group on Women, Peace and Security, we are pleased that Libya has been added as a country of focus for 2018. We aim to continue to provide the Council with up-to-date information and analysis on the women, peace and security agenda in Libya, which we hope can better inform our deliberations.
Finally, Madam President, let me turn to the situation of refugees and migrants.
We remain deeply concerned about situation of the more than 50,000 refugees and the estimated 700,000 migrants currently in Libya. Refugees and migrants are often vulnerable and risk being exploited or being arbitrarily detained. We would like to highlight the work of the UNHCR and IOM to assist refugees and migrants under difficult circumstances, and underline the importance of full access for humanitarian actors.
Serious efforts to safeguard against human rights abuses and violations, to create accountability, and promote changes in behaviour in order to end impunity are needed.
We believe that the Council must come together and send a strong signal in this regard. This includes the use of sanctions to target those responsible for smuggling and trafficking in persons.
The political, security and humanitarian situation in Libya is one of the most complex on this Council's agenda. We have given UNSMIL, under the leadership of Special Representative Salamé, a huge task to support the Libyan people to move their country forward. We must continue to stand united and give them our full support.