Ambassador Kelly Craft
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
September 2, 2020
Thank you, Abarry. Congratulations on your presidency this month. And a special thank you to Acting SRSG Stephanie Williams for your commitment to UNSMIL and the people of Libya.
Libya is at a critical juncture. With UNSMIL and international partners, we welcome the August 21 declaration by Libya’s Prime Minister and Speaker of the House of Representatives calling for a ceasefire, demilitarization, resumption of oil sector operations, and a return to UN-facilitated political talks.
These Libyan statements represent the hope of the Libyan people that their leaders will turn away from the violence and forge a peaceful political solution that rejects continued foreign interference and preserves Libyan sovereignty. This initiative by Libya’s leaders is a positive, courageous step forward that we all should collectively support.
Respect for Libya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity should remain the international community’s guideposts. We oppose any scheme purporting to divide Libya, occupy it, or foist an external political settlement on Libyans. Libyan parties must drive the solution, which will best be reached through inclusive UN-led political negotiations aimed toward national elections. But a political solution will remain elusive as long as foreign backers on both sides continue to fuel the conflict.
To be clear, the United States opposes all foreign military interference in Libya, supports UN-led negotiations toward a sustainable ceasefire, and backs an immediate return to a UN-facilitated political process. We have said it before, and we say it again: There is no military solution to the conflict in Libya.
All actors involved in the conflict should abide by the commitments they made in Berlin and immediately suspend military operations, halt the ongoing transfer of foreign military equipment and fighters to Libya, and allow local authorities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We urge member states to continue to share information with the Libya Panel of Experts concerning potential arms embargo violations.
We must make progress toward a lasting ceasefire. We believe finding a demilitarized solution beginning with Sirte offers a practical way forward to build confidence on the ground.
There is no place for foreign mercenaries or proxy forces in Libya, including the Russian Ministry of Defense proxy Wagner Group, which is fighting alongside and in support of LNA forces.
The United States remains appalled by reports of mass graves in Tarhouna. We welcome the appointments of three members of the fact-finding mission for Libya. The fact-finding mission will assist in holding accountable those who have committed human rights violations and abuses and deter further violations and abuses. Accountability for human rights violations and abuses committed by all actors is key to strengthening the durability of a political solution, so that Libyans see a genuine path to reconciliation and justice. This Council should consider ways to hold violators accountable, including possible sanctions.
We reiterate our strong support for UN Acting Special Representative Stephanie Williams and commend her and UNSMIL’s leadership in facilitating a comprehensive political process and confidence building measures.
As we begin discussions on UNSMIL’s mandate renewal, we must not waste this opportunity to ensure that UNSMIL is fit for purpose going forward. We must capitalize on these recent positive developments and ensure that UNSMIL is as effective and efficient as it can be, and that its leadership structure reflects this goal. Reforming UNSMIL now gives us the best chance to capitalize on battlefield changes to bring about a permanent political settlement and reinforce the Berlin Process.
The United States believes the peace process will succeed in the country, but only when the outside parties to the conflict stop fueling the conflict and support the UN-led peace process, so the opposing leaders reconcile and come up with a peaceful, power-sharing agreement that truly represents the wishes of the Libyan people.