SASG Williams Remarks to members of the High Council of State Consultations with High Council of State
• I would like to welcome all of you to Tunis and thank you for your presence here with us today. I would like to express my thanks to the High Council of State for its support to this UN-facilitated initiative.
• I commend your participation and commitment to this most important task of determining the constitutional basis needed for national elections.
• As you may have noticed, your counterparts from the HoR have not yet arrived, but we still expect that they will join us soon, so as to be able to formally launch the work of the joint committee to determine the constitutional basis.
• In the meantime, I propose that we make good use of our time together to hold in-depth consultations in preparation of the formal meeting with the HOR delegation. These consultations can be a good opportunity to present and discuss your ideas and proposals.
• Libya is at yet another critical inflection point, and it is extremely important for all of us to respect the will of the 2.8 million Libyans who registered to vote. The promise of elections is at the forefront of the hearts and minds of the Libyan people, who want and deserve to elect their leadership for the since the last election eight years ago.
• In all my engagements, I have attempted to lift the voices of the registered voters, and have consistently called on all political stakeholders to respect and realize the political rights of the Libyan people to choose their leaders through the ballot box.
• I look forward to using this opportunity to consult with you on the many components of the constitutional basis, both to better understand your perspective and vision, and to see where we can find potential points of consensus.
• The UN has had a longstanding commitment to the constitutional track that is worth revisiting. In more recent memory, we convened a meeting in Cairo in October 2020 with 10 participants from each chamber. Two issues were discussed: the draft constitution, and a consensual constitutional basis. However, the meeting was mostly focused on the contentious articles in the draft constitution and ended without an agreement.
• The committee met again in January and February 2021 in Hurghada. During its first meeting in January the delegation did not reach an agreement on the contentious articles of the 2017 draft Constitution but agreed that on the holding of the referendum on the basis of the existing law. In its second meeting in Hurghada an agreement was reached to ask the High National Elections Commission to organize a referendum. Should a referendum not be possible, it was agreed that the chambers would pursue a constitutional basis, as laid out in a draft document consisting of 57 articles (February Committee Proposal). Unfortunately, after the agreement went back to the respective chambers, HCS approved it, while the HOR determined that consensus was no longer mutual.
• Given the inability of the Constitutional Committee of the two Chambers to reach a lasting consensus, the LPDF legal committee held 16 meetings between February and April 2020 and reached preliminary agreement on a constitutional basis, although a number of issues remained outstanding. These issues could not be resolved despite multiple efforts within the LPDF plenary and ad hoc committees subsequently established.
• I should note that I was also supportive of the consensus, to a certain degree, that led to the issuance of Constitutional Amendment 12, and note that this consensus has inspired our invitation to you and to the HoR to unite the chambers in this effort to determine the constitutional basis for national elections.
• And now, with the electoral experience of December 2021 as a stark reminder of the importance of holding elections on a solid constitutional and legal basis, you have a new opportunity to build on the work already done, and to seriously devote yourselves to reaching consensus on a constitutional framework thatwould enable the holding of inclusive, free, fair and transparent national elections.
• You will be addressing delicate and challenging questions, about Libya’s future political system, eligibility criteria and electoral framework, among other key issues. But I have faith in your professionalism, your commitment to the country, and your dedication to the higher interest of the Libyan people.
• You have a critical role to play in making your voice heard in support of the nearly 3 million Libyan citizens who have registered to vote. You can help lift their voices by paving the path to elections by determining a constitutional basis so that future generations can live in a united, prosperous and peaceful Libya.
• We are here to help facilitate this consensus, mindful of the central role of the two chambers in agreeing on a constitutional basis and within our mandate to facilitate the holding of elections in the shortest possible timeframe.