The United Nations has seen no evidence of a ceasefire in Libya or of any steps by the country’s authorities to fulfil their obligations under Security Council resolutions aimed at protecting civilians in the strife-torn North African country, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.
“We have serious concerns about the protection of civilians and respect for human rights and international humanitarian law,” Mr. Ban told Member States during an informal closed meeting of the General Assembly, which he briefed on his recent travels. “I call, once again, for full respect for international humanitarian law and human rights by all those involved in the fighting.”
He also stressed the urgent need for humanitarian access, reiterating that all parties to the fighting have an obligation to allow unimpeded access to people in need.
The Secretary-General said he would continue to take part in “wide-ranging diplomatic efforts aimed at a ceasefire and a political solution” to the conflict in Libya, where military forces allied to leader Muammar al-Qadhafi have waged a fierce battle with opposition forces.
On 17 March the Security Council adopted a resolution authorizing Member States to take “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya, and since then several countries have carried out air strikes as part of their efforts to implement the resolution.
Mr. Ban told the General Assembly that there are reports that opposition groups have made a series of westward advances in the past few days, although he cautioned that the situation on the ground is rapidly changing.
Tomorrow the UN chief will, along with his Special Envoy Abdul Elah al-Khatib, take part in an international conference in London on the situation in Libya. Mr. Khatib is also expected to travel again to Libya soon.
The Security Council today also received an update on the implementation of a Council resolution that imposed sanctions on Libya’s leadership because of their actions during the current crisis.
The fighting in Libya is part of a broader wave of protests and unrest that has swept across North Africa and the Middle East, toppling long-standing regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.
During his briefing today Mr. Ban told UN Member States about the details of his recent visit to Tunisia and Egypt, and the wider situation in the region.