The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, said at the Friday meeting of the High-level Committee on Libya, taking place in Addis Ababa as part of the African Union’s summit, that what is urgently needed is the political will to break the protracted political stalemate and achieve progress on multiple fronts in Libya.
Guterres said that progress is sorely needed towards holding elections and advancing gains in security, national reconciliation and human rights, adding that the UN continues to be committed to Libyan-owned and Libyan-led solutions.
UN has no Agenda
He also reiterated that the UN has been totally committed to overcoming the misunderstandings of the past and outlined priorities’ areas for action.
“We have no agenda and no goal but one: to secure the right of the Libyan people to live in peace, to vote in free and fair elections, and to share in the prosperity of their country.” Guterres said.
He also indicated that he shared the growing frustrations of the Libyan people, saying that the absence of elections worsened economic insecurity, heightened political instability, risked renewed conflict, and increased the specter of partition.
Joint Efforts to Support Elections
“But, without agreement, the United Nations, in close collaboration with key Libyan stakeholders, the African Union, and international partners, should propose and pursue alternative mechanisms towards finding solutions,” he said, explaining that there is no alternative to elections, which remain the only credible pathway to legitimate, unified governance.
The UN Secretary General underlined that the 2020 ceasefire agreement continued to hold, commending progress on security challenges, which included the work of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission that “represents an instrument of hope for all Libyans”, and hailing as well the African Union’s engagement and support.
“The next priority of the Joint Military Commission must be the complete withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya,”Guterres remarked, recalling that external interference had fuelled Libya’s descent into conflict.
He also welcomed the recent meeting in Cairo between the joint military commission and representatives of Libya, Sudan, and Niger, saying that the the decision to establish a coordination and information sharing committee marked an important step toward greater stability and peace in Libya and the wider region.
“Progress towards national reconciliation is also a priority,” he said, pointing to the African Union’s ongoing efforts to support an inclusive process.
Immigration and Human Rights
Guterres also said that immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers continued to suffer abuses with impunity, adding that thousands who attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea are returned to Libya and detained in inhumane and degrading conditions with restricted humanitarian assistance, with thousands more unaccounted for.
He reiterated his call for all countries involved to respect the integrity of international refugee law, and for Libyan authorities to find rights-based alternatives to detention.
“The United Nations and the African Union – together with other key regional actors and organizations – must work together to support the Libyan people in realizing their legitimate aspirations to a more peaceful and prosperous future.” The UN Secretary General said.