The United Nations is implementing its Action Plan for Libya to create the necessary conditions for the completion of the North African country’s post-conflict transition, the head of UN mission there said Wednesday.
“The United Nations is poised to increase its presence in Libya,” Ghassan Salamé, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), told the Security Council via video link, noting that more staff will be working in the capital, Tripoli, and they will visit more communities across the nation.
“It is only by truly understanding the country that we can succeed in the implementation of the Action Plan for Libya and help its citizens put an end to a too long transition,” he added.
Following six months of armed conflict in Libya in 2011, the UN established UNSMIL, a political mission, to support the country’s transitional authorities in their post-conflict efforts.
Mr. Salamé, who brifed the Council alongside Hajer Sharief, Co-founder of 'Together We Build It,' a professional network for Libyan women, said that the second anniversary of the Libyan Political Agreement, on 17 December 2017 passed peacefully due in no small part to the unity of the Security Council, which, in its recent Presidential Statement declared that the international community stands behind the Agreement and will not accept attempts to undermine it.
However, the specter of violence remains present; clashes occurred recently between forces affiliated with two rival communities in the area at the eastern vicinity of Tripoli. Tension has also heightened around the city of Derna.
The efforts of UNSMIL have been pivotal to the relative quiet Libya has enjoyed over the last months. These extremely time-consuming conflict prevention efforts must continue if hope in the political process is to be maintained, he stressed.
“Libya needs a competent and efficient government,” he said, “One which can deliver the public services the people desperately need. One that is able to unify the institutions of the country. One which can provide order and justice. One that will preside over the elections that will end the transition.”
Mr. Salamé said that the Mission’s work focused on supporting efforts to adopt a new constitution, achieve national reconciliation and hold elections.
“The transition cannot definitively end until Libya stands upon a true constitution,” he said, noting that the draft constitution is undergoing judicial review.
The fabric of Libyan society is frayed, and requires meaningful reconciliation if it is to be mended. The UN has successfully facilitated numerous dialogues between representatives of local communities formerly in conflict while seeking to include the major players and groups previously marginalized in the political process.
The UN has been able to provide extensive technical support for voter registration, with six hundred thousand Libyans newly registered to vote in just over six weeks. The number of people on the electoral register now exceeds two million, and continues to rise.
The political crisis in Libya has been accompanied by an equal humanitarian crisis. The UN will launch a humanitarian response plan next week.
A matter of great humanitarian concern is the dire situation many migrants in Libya continue to face. In just the last weeks of 2017, thousands of migrants have been voluntarily returned for humanitarian purposes from Libya to their countries of origin, but thousands more migrants remain arbitrarily detained in centres, many of them in inhumane conditions.
Individual predatory agendas continue to dominate at the expense of the collective good, he said.
“Conflict over resources is indeed at the heart of the Libyan crisis,” he said, pledging that the Mission will not spare any effort to advocate that national wealth be directed toward the provision of public services rather than to special interests.
Mr. Salamé said that UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, who visited Libya from 9 to 12 January, urged Libyan interlocutors to truly commit to working together and implement the Action Plan to create the necessary conditions to end the transitional period.