SRSG Abdoulaye Bathily's Remarks to the African Union Peace and Security Council - 18 April 2023
Distinguished Members of the Council,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank you for the honor you have bestowed on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to inform you of the efforts undertaken to restore peace, security and stability in this brotherly country.
Since I last addressed this distinguished Council, I briefed the United Nations Security Council on 27 February. On that occasion, I announced that UNSMIL will undertake an initiative to help towards the holding of elections in Libya in 2023. Since then, through a comprehensive approach, involving not only national institutions such as the Presidency Council, the Government, the House of Representatives, the High Council of the State, the High National Elections Commission on the one hand, and military and security actors, political parties and potential candidates on the other hand, civil society, including notables and tribal leaders, women and youth from all regions of Libya, I have undertaken to build consensus on the most contentious issues related to the peaceful organization and successful holding of appeased, inclusive, free and transparent elections this year. To do this, we must all ensure the positive engagement of the above-mentioned institutions as well as political actors, the involvement of military, paramilitary and armed groups, civil society, traditional and community leaders, women and youth. The elections represent a challenge that must mobilize all segments of society in an inclusive manner.
Over the past few weeks, I have met with all the institutional, political, security, community actors and citizens interested in the electoral matter. All of them expressed a definite willingness to participate in defining the parameters of the process.
At the political and institutional level, UNSMIL offered its technical and logistical support to the 6+6 Committee set up by the House of Representatives and the High Council of the State to finalize the constitutional basis and the electoral laws that are essential for the holding of elections. I commend the commitment of the House of Representatives and the High Council of the State and urge them to keep their promise to fulfill the Libyan people’s desire to choose their legitimate representatives this year by finalizing the legal texts on time.
UNSMIL has also intensified its consultations with political forces, represented either in parties or coalitions of parties. We have also met with potential candidates. It is important for the success of the political and electoral process that all parties commit, through a code of conduct, to refrain from acts that would constitute an incitement to hatred and violence and to respect the results of elections. We will continue to work tirelessly towards this end.
Although the finalization of the legal framework is a necessary condition for the holding of elections, it is not sufficient on its own. The electoral moment represents a rare opportunity for a nation to come together, in all its components, to discuss its future and forge new compromises. In Libya, which has been torn apart by a fratricidal conflict for a decade, this assertion is even more relevant.
I have therefore initiated discussions on the security level with the Joint Military Commission (5+5) and all the armed players in order to build a consensus among them on the need for their patriotic commitment to secure non-violent elections throughout Libya. Thus, in Benghazi, Tripoli and Sabha, they reaffirmed their willingness to contribute to peaceful elections, the renunciation to armed violence and the commitment to national reconciliation. In this regard, the leaders of the Libyan National Army released six prisoners on 08 April. In addition, the two Chiefs of Staff expressed the same commitment to work for the reunification of the military apparatus and the holding of peaceful elections, during their meeting in Benghazi on 13 April. I would like to hail the patriotic commitment of the military and security leaders and hope that it will inspire all Libyans.
Distinguished Council Members,
Citizen engagement has also been part on the elections enabling initiative taken by UNSMIL. You will all recall that, in 2021, over 2,8 million Libyans have registered to take part in the elections. It is therefore our duty to give voice to their demand to be given the opportunity to choose their leaders. This axis also aims to ensure that, through their active mobilisation, Libyans play their citizen role fully and hold their leaders more accountable. The country general citizenry, including notables, women and youth leaders, can play a role in preventing violence and ensuring the results are respected. They could also participate in promoting the Code of conduct I mentioned earlier.
Distinguished Council Members,
The United Nations reiterates its commitment to work in partnership with the African Union to support Libya’s Presidential Council on national reconciliation. The UN-AU partnership is highly valued in advancing Libya’s national reconciliation process, based on the principles of transitional justice and human rights while ensuring that reconciliation and transitional justice are appropriately linked with our political effort.
In my last report to your Council, I welcomed Presidential Council Vice President Abdallah Al-Lafi’s leadership in achieving the Preparatory Meeting on National Reconciliation held in Tripoli from 8-12 January, and the Presidential Council’s efforts to implement a Strategic Vision for National Reconciliation, as provided for in the Roadmap adopted at the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum in November 2020. As part of this initiative, a legal committee was tasked with drafting a comprehensive law on reconciliation, which provides for the installation of transitional justice mechanisms, including Special Judicial Chambers, a Truth Commission, a Reparations Fund, and a Vetting Committee. This draft law represents a significant step for implementing transitional justice and fostering reconciliation in Libya. I call on Libyan stakeholders, including the House of Representatives, to adopt it without delay. The UN’s ongoing consultations with victims highlighted the pressing need for justice, the denial of which can feed into renewed cycles of violence and revenge. Furthermore, the UN has also consistently called for the increased representation of victims and marginalised groups in the elaboration and operationalisation of transitional justice in Libya, especially women, ethnic minorities, youth, and IDPs. Their representation should be meaningful.
As a long-term process, reconciliation must seek to address the root causes of conflict by engaging all relevant actors and placing victims at its centre. Our effort should also focus on truth-seeking and non-recurrence guarantees. In this context, I hope that the future steps of the political process that will be undertaken by newly elected authorities, will also be guided by the imperative for the State and society to avoid and prevent the mistakes of the past. It is for this reason that we reiterate our call for the African Union to deploy, on a permanent basis, a dedicated team of high-level and experienced experts, equipped with the knowledge of lessons learned from other reconciliation processes in Africa, to assist the Presidential Council and other reconciliation stakeholders, in the conduct of the process.
By granting legitimate institutions to Libya, elections will be an efficient vehicle to accelerate the reconciliation process. In this regard I would like to commend the effort of the minister of foreign affairs of the republic of Congo, my brother, Jean-Claude Gakosso, the head of the task force of the African Union in Libya, on the issue of national reconciliation.
In the same vein, the creation of a more democratic and reconciled society also requires a healthy environment for civil society organisations. Similarly, the final report of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya, released on 27 March, expressed concern regarding the human rights situation and highlighted the need to provide redress to victims of various types of violations. I would like to call on your Council to urge Libyan authorities to safeguard and expand the civic space and spare no effort to provide effective remedies to the victims, including migrants.
Distinguished Council Members,
Our shared commitment in support of Libya should remain unwavering. I welcome the active engagement of the African Union on Libya and wish to thank the Peace and Security Council for the Communique of its 1136th meeting held on 1st February 2023, which reaffirmed the Council’s support to the progress of the national reconciliation process. I also recognise and welcome the leadership of President Sassou Nguesso, who chaired the meeting of the AU High-Level Panel on Libya on the margins of the last AU Summit, to revive international support for the Libyan national reconciliation process. In his remarks to the Committee, the UN Secretary-General noted that progress towards national reconciliation is a priority regarding the AU’s ongoing efforts to support an inclusive process.
In light of this, I reiterate the commitment of UNSMIL to continue working with the African Union in support of national reconciliation, peace and stability in Libya.
Thank you for your kind attention.