SRSG Ghassan Salame's speech at the opening of the first stage of Libya's Action Plan on amendments to the LPA

26 Sep 2017

SRSG Ghassan Salame's speech at the opening of the first stage of Libya's Action Plan on amendments to the LPA


I convey to you the greetings of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and his wishes for success. I should like to inform you that he exclusively chose Libya to be the first conciliatory arena in his program of the year and that he is diligently working to enable it emerge from the spiral relying on you to launch this rescue operation and we have to assist you as much as we can towards this goal.

I also convey to you an explicit, broad and even unanimous position from the countries of the world, both neighboring and distant, super-powers and smaller states, that supports your decision to begin the process of amending the Political Agreement, values your presence this morning and relies on you to finalize drafting the envisaged amendments soon through mutual understanding, without haste, of course, but also without hesitation.
The presence of representatives of the Quartet, comprising the United Nations, the League of Arab States, the African Union and the European Union, as well as the presence of members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Libya to this opening meeting is an expression of this unanimity and I welcome them all.

I also convey to you the feelings of a large number of Libyans who communicated with me and my colleagues in the United Nations Mission looking to you to express their hopes for a new page of consensus and harmony. They say to us and to you that a window of salvation has been opened before your country and we should enter through it, and an opportunity for a qualitative leap towards capable and firm institutions is in the horizon where it is your duty and our duty to sieze it. The Libyans are tired of moving from a transition to another without a clear, explicit and reassuring horizon. We should all work together so they enter a stage of certainty and reassurance embodied only in a stable, capable and fair state.

Allow me, dear ones, to be candid by saying that in this action plan that I have proposed to the major powers and those states concerned with the Libyan issue from which it received wide support, I have only expressed what I heard from the Libyans themselves. If I have a modest contribution, it would be synthesizing the ideas of the Libyans and arranging them in a timetable I believe to be rational and appropriate. These are ideas and suggestions I have heard across your country, from you and from your colleagues, from the leaders of the country as well as from the good people, calling for a comprehensive national reconciliation, a capable and governing state, and stable institutions that rise above the interests of individuals for the national interest and rise above the specificities of places, ties and partisanship for the sake of the one nation. If they are keen to establish an effective state, it is due to their profound knowledge that there is no independence without a state to protect it and no sovereignty without a state to defend; and that foreign interference can only be stopped by a deterrent state. On the other hand, there is no state without solid national unity; no state without comprehensive adherence to the public interest; and no state without solid institutions where its concept is embodied.

I have heard, and you must have heard like me, complains of all Libyans from the deterioration of living conditions and the reluctance of state institutions to provide the appropriate services starting with security to public health or education. I have heard, like you, the Libyans' fears that their territories will be turned into uncontrolled swathes of land easily crossed or entered and exposed to interference by whoever is capable.

I have heard, as you have heard, the fear of many countries, neighboring or distant, from the caveats of inability of the public authority to address these issues and the risks of continuation or even exacerbation of these issues on the security of those countries, let alone their interests.

Therefore, there is general insistence on a new approach. It is not another transition, but rather a qualitative leap towards a capable, stable and dignified state. The action plan that we have put forward is only a crossing towards that aspired goal.
Once again, I have only expressed what I have heard from the Libyans themselves about the need to avoid delays and making light of exceeding deadlines.
The action plan, therefore, provides for a series of consecutive stages, and we will work arduously to ensure there is no delay in the completion of any stage and that all are concluded with the normal end within a year from now.
While I welcome each and every one of you and sincerely thank you for accepting our invitation, I also think of each of your fellow members of the two Councils, asking you to consult to the fullest extent with those who are not present with us today in this room and to involve them as much as you can in your work so that the amendments to be made are expressive of the broadest segment possible of the members of the two Councils. We seek transparency not concealment, clarity not conceit, and broad consensus not opinion of the minority. It is true that amendments in the first drafting stage require the effort of a limited number of volunteers among you, but they are only complete after being accepted by the largest number of members of the two Councils, and before endorsement by the largest possible number of the members of the House of Representatives.

Your meeting today is the beginning of that plan, as the Skhirat Agreement, our reference and our framework, needs refinement to make it better suited to the transformations Libya has witnessed since its adoption. Certainly, its legitimacy will be enhanced if we can convince the largest number of Libyans to adopt, endorse and support it to expand the level of harmony and strengthen the unity of our people in Libya through it.

The amendment of that Agreement in our view is nothing but an entrance from which the majority of Libyans embark towards completion of the qualitative leap, which includes successive stages culminating in general, free and fair elections the results of which are accepted by all of us even before its organization. One of these stages is a national conference that expands the number of those taking exclusively the path of political solution other than costly means. It also includes the adoption of a constitution for the country the draft of which has been presented to us and it needs a referendum.

Therefore, as we meet today in the framework of limited amendments to the Skhirat Agreement according to the amendment rules provided for in that Agreement, I salute here the members of the two delegations representing the House of Representatives and the State Council. I hope they work together in the framework of a unified and small drafting committee as stated in that Agreement. I, along with my colleagues in the Mission, will be by your side as much as you want to agree on the texts that satisfy your conscience and that are in the interest of the country. I hope that this technical work will not take long time so that these amendments are submitted to the House of Representatives, hoping to be endorsed by the largest possible percentage of Representatives.

My brothers, members of House of Representatives, I have appealed to you from the United Nations Headquarters in New York and today I appeal to you in our beautiful language. I appeal to you to assume your responsibility, in awakening your pivotal institution, to participate actively in its work and strengthen its legitimacy through regular presence at its sessions, particularly when the time comes to endorse the amendments. At that day, I hope that we go together to enjoy seeing you restoring life to that great institution. The amendments to the Skhirat Agreement will be the first chapter, not necessarily the most important, for a set of constituent legislations that your people are waiting for and that you cannot under any excuse hesitate to adopt, particularly those related to the presidential and parliamentary elections. And I honestly say that we are looking forward to the endorsement of the amendments by the House of Representatives as a crucial day for which we are preparing with the required move of the largest number of representatives to the headquarters. I would like to thank them in advance for conscientiously exercising their natural voting role, whether they vote yes or no.

Although it is not always wise to quote what one has earlier said, but let me repeat the goal I set for my plan in the UN. It is a qualitative leap towards the State of Institutions. Perhaps the most important sentence in that statement, which some did not notice, is the following: "In Libya, there are dormant institutions that must be revived, split institutions that must be reunified and captive institutions that must be freed."

The adoption of such amendments of course will only be through dialogue. Let me at the end of these remarks pause for a moment before the meaning of that word (dialogue). Many believe that dialogue is the antithesis and alternative of conflict. I am sure that this view is somehow deficient. On the contrary, I have always believed that dialogue is a form of conflict, it may rather be the severest form. Conflict is a struggle with the other, while dialogue in essence is an internal conflict with oneself.  If you enter a dialogue with a truly sincere intention, you first have to convince yourself that the opinion of the other exists and you cannot condone its existence unless you deny the other expressing it. Second, you must accept that it is legitimate for the other to have different opinion from yours, since plurality of ideas and visions is the natural situation among human beings and respect for the legitimacy of plurality is the basis of democracy. Third, and this is the most difficult of all difficulties, is to accept the possibility of changing your previous position when interacting with the other and genuinely listening to their point of view. My dear ones, do not take dialogue light in its deeper sense; dialogue involves not only seeking to change the position of the other but also accepting in advance the possibility of the other to convince you to alter your positions and change your views. Therefore, dialogue is not subjugation, it is a risk, but a courageous and noble risk for the common good that I think we all aspire to.

Once again, I welcome you and look forward to your consensus. My colleagues and I put ourselves at your disposal to agree together on a revised text of your Political Agreement that opens a window in the blocked wall, gives a bright picture for the ability of the Libyans to work together for the greater interest and restores the glimmer of hope to the sons and daughters of Libya who rightly aspire to a promising prosperous future.

Thank you