Thank you for the opportunity to brief the Security Council on recent developments in Libya.
On the political front, I am pleased to report that, since the last briefing to the Council on 20 June, there has been some progress on the constitutional track.
The third and final round of consultations of the House of Representatives (HoR) and the High State Council (HSC) regarding a constitutional basis for elections was held in Cairo from 12 to 20 June.
The delegates reached a broad consensus on most of the contentious articles in the 2017 Constitutional Proposal. However, differences remain on measures governing the transitional period leading to the elections.
Nevertheless, the progress achieved is commendable. The meeting was the first time the House of Representatives and the High State Council engaged in a serious review of the Constitutional Proposal since its adoption in 2017.
We are encouraged that the leaders of both Chambers have accepted the invitation of Special Adviser Stephanie Williams to meet in Geneva from 28 to 29 June to discuss and reach agreement on measures governing the transitional period leading to elections.
We are firmly convinced that elections are the only path to settle the disagreements over the democratic legitimacy of all Libyan institutions.
Let me recall that the House of Representatives was elected in 2014 for a four-year term, and the High State Council, which is the legacy body of the General National Congress, was elected nearly ten years ago in 2012.
I encourage this Council and all of Libya’s international partners to call on the leadership of the two Chambers to seize the opportunity presented by the agreement reached in Cairo. It is high time to agree on outstanding issues and make the elections happen.
We remain committed to supporting Libyan national reconciliation efforts, working closely with our partners, including the African Union.
In this regard, we welcome the launch, on 23 June, of the Presidency Council’s Strategic Vision for National Reconciliation.
We appreciate the document’s focus on addressing the root causes of conflict. At the same time, we reiterate the need for a reconciliation process that is inclusive, victim-centred, rights-based, and grounded in the principles of transitional justice, with a focus on truth, accountability and reparations.
Continued political divisions are contributing to a tense security environment in and around Tripoli. The issue of the executive is yet to be resolved.
As armed groups continue to position themselves in support of either Mr. Dbeibah or Mr. Bashagha, the risk of escalation increases.
I reiterate the United Nations readiness to facilitate dialogue between Mr. Dbeibah and Mr. Bashagha.
I call again on all Libyan political and security actors to exercise maximum restraint and address all disputes through dialogue.
I also welcome the recent resumption of the activities of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission (JMC) and the Chiefs of Staff and commend their joint call for maintaining calm and stability in the country.
On 7 June in Tunis, Special Adviser Williams co-chaired with France a plenary meeting of the Security Working Group of the Berlin Process, with the participation of the 5+5 JMC.
The discussion focused on the need to strengthen the ceasefire, including by ensuring progress in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of armed groups and militias and the withdrawal of mercenaries, foreign fighters, and foreign forces from Libya.
The meeting also provided a valuable opportunity for the Libyan ceasefire monitors from the East and West to hold their first discussions to operationalize the Libyan-led and Libyan-owned Ceasefire Monitoring Mechanism (LCMM). With UNSMIL facilitation, the JMC and the local monitors plan to meet again in Tunis on 28 and 29 June.
Meanwhile, UNSMIL ceasefire monitors continue to be based in Tripoli, pending approval by relevant authorities of accommodation and workspace, among other conditions necessary for the monitors to operate from Sirte.
On the economic front, the partial shutdown of Libya’s oil sector continues. Since 16 April, the shutdown has reduced Libyan oil exports by one third and cost the country 3.1 billion US dollars in lost revenue.
In addition, the disagreement over the control and use of public funds that triggered the partial shutdown continues and could lead to further oil field closures in the near term.
The suspension of oil revenue transfers could negatively impact the ability of the Government of National Unity to pay salaries and meet other spending needs, including for basic social services.
On a positive note, I am pleased to report that on 7 June, the United Nations and the Ministry of Planning signed the first Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, covering the period 2023 to 2025.
The Framework serves to guide the peacebuilding and development work of UN entities in Libya, in alignment with national priorities and in support of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The human rights situation in Libya remains alarming.
Nine civil society and humanitarian workers arrested between November 2021 and February 2022 for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression remain in detention.
On 8 June, four of these arbitrarily detained persons were not permitted to attend a scheduled court hearing. The hearing, moreover, fell far short of fair trial standards.
I remain concerned that civic space is consistently being eroded. Arbitrary restrictions continue to be imposed on civil society organisations. Politically active women and men defending human rights are targeted with hate speech and incitement to violence, compromising their safety and security.
Since May, UNSMIL has received further reports of serious allegations of torture against Libyans, migrants, and asylum-seekers in detention facilities and prisons.
Libyan authorities must investigate all allegations of torture and other human rights violations in detention centres, including those facilities under the control of the Ministry of Interior’s Department for Combating Illegal Immigration.
Those responsible for grave human rights violations, including atrocity crimes, must be held accountable domestically or, as applicable, by international justice mechanisms, such as the International Criminal Court.
Regrettably, for many victims and survivors, justice and accountability – including remedies and reparation – are illusive or painfully slow.
For example, on 14 June, the Tripoli Appeals Court referred the 1996 Abu Salim massacre case to the military justice system, asserting that it lacked the competency to process the case.
This latest judgment, coupled with the time lapsed, suggests that the Libyan criminal justice system is unable or unwilling to try individuals for atrocity crimes.
To this end, the extension of the mandate of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya is essential to investigate and report on violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law.
The Fact-Finding Mission’s role will serve to advance human rights, contribute to securing sustainable peace, and foster rights-based national reconciliation in Libya.
As of 14 June, the United Nations recorded the return of an additional 10,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their places of origin since the start of the year. The total number of IDPs now stands at 159,000.
However, threats of forced evictions of IDPs remain of concern. In Tripoli, on 15 June, around 90 displaced families were threatened by members of armed groups with bulldozers. They were ordered to evacuate buildings where they reside within ten days. This warning follows forced evictions of three camps hosting displaced Tawerghan families in May.
Increased efforts are needed on the part of the Government, with the support of UN partners, to find durable solutions for those who remain internally displaced, in line with international standards.
In closing, let me stress that Libya has made significant progress in the last few years toward a more inclusive society. For the sake of the Libyan people, we should not allow this progress to dissipate.
The United Nations’ priority in Libya remains to facilitate a return to the electoral process, based on a sound and consensual constitutional basis for elections. This is what the Libyan people have asked for.
The outcome of the Cairo talks is a step in the right direction.
It is my hope the upcoming meeting in Geneva between the heads of the House of Representative and High State Council will result in a final agreement that would lead to elections at the earliest possible date.
Let me stress the Council’s continued and united support to these efforts is essential.