SRSG Abdoulaye Bathily's opening remarks: Security Working Group for Libya - Benghazi
***As delivered ***
Distinguished members of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission,
Excellencies present in person and online,
First, I want to express my appreciation to all of you for attending this Security Working Group meeting here in Benghazi, an ancient city with much historical significance. I am grateful to Italy, the lead co-chair, to other co-chairs, and to the 5+5 JMC for their support in organizing this meeting for the second time on Libyan soil and to the Libyan authorities in Benghazi for their warm welcome. I look forward to attending Security Working Group meetings in different regions of Libya in the future.
This meeting is a continuation of our efforts to consolidate peace in Libya and support the implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the reunification of military and security institutions. Security is essential to enabling the elections Libya needs to establish legitimate institutions and pave the way for sustainable stability.
I would like to commend all of you for your achievements so far and encourage you to maintain your dialogue, cooperation, and commitment to Libya’s national unity and territorial integrity.
While the JMC has accomplished much, we acknowledge that continued progress toward fully implementing the ceasefire agreement requires the conjunction of national and international actions.
Taking stock, a number of 5+5 JMC decisions and recommendations have been implemented while others seem challenged.
On the armed formations, a key article of the ceasefire agreement, the JMC strived to engage the security and military leaders and were successful in their endeavor. They initiated trust and confidence building measures, including release of detainees. In parallel, they recommended the establishment of a disarmament demobilization and reintegration (DDR) committee to categorize armed formations that is yet to be formed.
Similarly, they decided to establish and activate Liaison Committees for the withdrawal of Mercenaries, and Foreign Fighters. These committees have now an established office, their equipment is under procurement, and they have launched work on a database, despite the conflict that erupted in Sudan that has slowed their progress.
I would like to recall the outcomes of my visit to Sudan, Chat and Niger where I discussed the work of the liaison committee and the need for coordinated and systematic withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign fighters from Libya. Few days after my visit, the conflict erupted in Sudan. We hope that very soon peace and stability will be restored in Sudan for the collective peace and stability in the region.
The joint military force, another article of the ceasefire agreement, the 5+5 JMC have identified the structure, needs, etc. and submitted the request to their hierarchies. Our collective support might be needed to further implement this article.
On the political front, the efforts of the House of Representatives and High Council of State 6+6 Committee are an important step; however, the electoral laws in their current state will not facilitate successful elections. Additional work is needed to refine the draft laws by filling the legal and technical gaps identified by the High National Electoral Commission (HNEC). We urge key stakeholders and Libyan institutions to reach an inclusive settlement on the main politically contested issues. Here again I would like to call on all leaders to attend to the aspirations of the Libyan people. The continuation of the current stalemate is dangerous. The lessons from Sudan should be learnt for all.
These political obstacles should not prevent you (the JMC) from continuing with the same commitment. Building confidence among military and security leaders is key to advancing the political process and creating an environment where transparent and inclusive elections can be conducted with all parties respecting the results. We emphasize in this regard the importance of the military actors as key guarantors of peace and stability in Libya.
There are many challenges ahead of you, to name a few:
• Ensuring a safe and secure environment for the elections.
• Addressing issues in relation to armed formations.
• Advancing national reconciliation and transitional justice.
• Ensuring that human rights are protected, and humanitarian laws are upheld.
UNSMIL is committed to accompanying you on this journey. We will continue to provide our support and expertise to facilitate your tasks and ensure that your voice is heard, and your recommendations are respected by all stakeholders. I call on all leaders in the east, west, and south to support consolidating peace in Libya and to respect the outcomes of your dialogues and deliberations.
I am confident that your cooperation and commitment in creating the necessary conditions for peace and stability in Libya will benefit the sub-region and the entire country. Please seize this opportunity to consolidate your achievements and overcome the challenges.
Thank you, again to the Italy – the lead co-chair for this month - and to Libyan authorities for their support in organizing today’s discussion. I hope it will be fruitful, yielding concrete results. I look forward to hearing your perspectives and proposals on how to advance common goals and interests.
Thank you for your attention