Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on Libya
National statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Libya, 8 November 2018, New York.
Thank you very much, Mr. President,
And thank you to the SRSG Salamé for your briefing today, and for the excellent work you do on the ground, and your staff, and thank you also once again for facilitating the indeed historic visit by the Sanctions Committee last week.
We read the reports and our cables, but nothing can really replace a field visit. I was in Tripoli for less than two days last week, but that was enough realize how the spike in violence in Tripoli at the end of August and in September, really shattered the capital and put the country at the brink of rupture. Windows of the Oil Company were blown out by rockets and the building remains with glaring holes in it, as a symbol of fragility. If it was not for the mediation efforts by the UN and the SRSG of course, the situation could easily have spiraled out of control and we could have seen a return to 2014. Hopefully this now is a signal to those who thrive and hold on to the status quo, that that is not tenable.
The ceasefire, as well as the recently announced security agreement in Tripoli, must now be effectively implemented. We urge all parties to end hostilities, refrain from further destabilizing threats or actions and protect civilians.
The crisis at the end of August should also be a wake-up call for us all, and serve as a turning point for the political process. We all agree that only through political solutions can there be sustainable peace in Libya. The Libyans themselves must of course own the political process, but active international support and unity is needed. The facilitating role of the UN is critical in this regard.
Special Representative Salamé’s determined efforts to use his good offices and promote reconciliation and dialogue between the East and the West, as well as the intention to expand the mission’s presence to eastern Libya, should be commended. All international and regional partners need to unite in fully backing the UN efforts.
We welcome Salamé’s plans, as outlined for us today, to prepare for a National Conference in the beginning of next year. The upcoming conference can provide an important opportunity to find a way out of the current protracted transition, and promote conditions for free and fair elections. My UK colleague has rightly pointed to the virtue of inclusivity in the national conference.
We must now therefore urge all Libyan actors to engage responsibly and constructively in the process, and to work together in a spirit of peaceful compromise. The House of Representatives, for its part, must honor its commitment to ensure a legal framework for elections. Elections must be thoroughly prepared to ensure that the necessary conditions are in place, and all parties should recommit to respect the election results.
The recent crisis also provides an opportunity to address some of the underlying root causes. Economic issues underpin the conflict and there is little chance to make progress unless serious efforts are undertaken. Predatory economic practices and profiteering for personal gains must be more effectively countered. Economic reforms are also critical to ensure a more fair and equitable distribution of resources. Recent initiatives are encouraging, but more needs to be done to enhance transparency and accountability, fight corruption and promote unity of the financial institutions. I met with some key new ministers in charge of finances and internal affairs who seem to understand all the challenges and they seem to be committed to get to work in addressing them. They need to be supported.
To restore stability, there is an urgent need to establish functioning and unified security institutions. Security Sector Reform and further efforts to build professional armed forces and police should be a priority.
Any sustainable political solution in Libya will require the full and equal participation of women. We stress the importance of women being engaged at all stages and levels of the political process. For instance, they should be adequately represented in the Libyan delegations to the upcoming Palermo conference and have seats at the table.
Continued reports of human rights violations and abuses, including sexual and gender based violence, is of deep concern. Widespread abuses in prisons, detention facilities and migrant centers, is unacceptable and must be stopped, as the SRSG rightly pointed out. We welcome the introduction of sexual and gender-based violence as a separate listing criterion for sanctions in resolution 2441 adopted earlier.
The Sanctions Committee’s visit to Libya 1-2 November was the first of its kind since the adoption of the sanctions regime in 2011. It provided the opportunity to obtain first-hand information from various counterparts, receive briefings on the political transition and security situation, review the implementation of sanctions, and strengthen the engagement and cooperation with the Panel of Experts. I hope that the planned visit to the East of the country that had to be postponed this time, can be carried out soon.
The aim of the sanctions is to advance peace, security and stability. In 2018 seven individuals were added to the sanctions list for engaging in acts that meet the sanctions designation criteria, including violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, attacks against oil installations and attempts to export oil illegally. This shows the readiness of the sanctions committee to use this tool in pursuit of peace and stability and to protect the broader interests of the Libyan people.
The illegal flow of arms continues to fuel the conflict and cause suffering to the civilian population. In my meeting with President Serraj he pointed to reported violations of the arms embargo. All UN members must do more to fully implement the sanctions, including the arms embargo and the Council needs to act on reported violations.
We remain open to further use of the sanctions instrument, including against those who seek to obstruct the UN facilitated process.
Upholding the sanctions regime is also crucial to helping ensure that Libya’s natural resources are protected and properly managed for the benefit of the Libyan people. This also applies to the country’s frozen assets. As Chair, as well as in our national capacity, we have listened carefully to Libya’s concerns regarding the management of frozen funds. We have actively pursued a way forward on this issue in discussions with other members of the sanctions committee, Libyan representatives in New York and now in Tripoli, and the entities whose assets are frozen.
I am encouraged by the readiness expressed by Libya to continue its dialogue with the World Bank to start finding a way forward on this issue albeit partial. We stand ready to continue supporting the process.
The people of Libya want peace, they want security, and they want a brighter future for their children. The main conclusion from my visit last week is that status quo is untenable. The recent crisis was a close call. We are now at a moment when momentum should be seized to break the impasse and firmly put Libya back on a credible path towards peace and unity. This Council, the wider UN membership and regional organizations have a common strategic interest in Libya reaching a political solution.
From almost every situation on our agenda, we know that the unity of this Council and among the main regional players and neighboring countries is a key element for success. We must stand united and rally behind the UN facilitated process. The high-level conference in Palermo next week provides an opportunity in this regard.
I thank you very much, Mr. President.