On Saturday, UN Secretary-General, António Guterres stressed the “urgent need for a political will to break the protracted political stalemate in Libya, and achieve progress on multiple fronts.”
Addressing the latest meeting of the High-level Committee on Libya, taking place in Addis Ababa, the UN Chief stated that “progress is sorely needed towards holding elections and advancing gains in security, national reconciliation, and human rights.” He added that the UN “continues to be committed to Libyan-owned and Libyan-led solutions.”
Guterres noted that the UN has been “totally committed to overcoming the misunderstandings of the past. 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.”
“I share the growing frustrations of the Libyan people,” the Secretary-General said. “The absence of elections worsens economic insecurity, heightens political instability, risks renewed conflict, and raises the spectre of partition. But, without an 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,” Guterres noted.
“There is no alternative to elections,” he stated. “They remain the only credible pathway to legitimate, unified governance.”
The UN Chief affirmed that the priority of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission (JMC) “must be the complete withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya,” recalling that external interference had fuelled Libya’s descent into conflict.
Welcoming the recent meeting in Cairo between the JMC and representatives of Libya, Sudan, and Niger, he said that “the decision to establish a coordination and information-sharing committee marks an important step towards greater stability and peace in Libya and the wider region.”
“Progress towards national reconciliation is also a priority,” he said, pointing to the AU’s ongoing efforts to support an inclusive process.
Outlining serious human rights concerns, he said “migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers continue to suffer abuses with impunity. 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.”
Since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, the oil-rich nation has grappled with multiple crises and rival administrations. There is currently a UN-recognized Government of National Unity (GNU), based in the capital Tripoli, and the Libyan Parliament-designated government, based in Sirte.
In December 2021, legal disputes and other challenges forced the cancellation of much anticipated Presidential and Parliamentary elections. To address this pressing issue, the Secretary-General said his Special Representative “has engaged the Libyan parties and international partners to agree on a constitutional basis for elections by the end of February.”
Meanwhile, the 2020 ceasefire agreement continues to hold. Guterres commended the progress on security challenges, including the work of the JMC, convened by his Special Representative, which represents “an instrument of hope for all Libyans”, he said, “as well the African Union’s engagement and support.”