On Tuesday, Barbara Woodward, the UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and President of the Security Council for the month of April, reiterated her continued support for the work of the UN Envoy to Libya, Abdoulaye Bathily.
During the UN Security Council’s meeting on Libya, the British diplomat said, “All Libyans, from social leaders to civil society, have an important role to play in Libya’s long-term efforts towards stability.”
Woodward stressed the need to “continue to work together constructively to support the Libyan people to address long-standing issues. It is only through coordinated efforts, with a leading role by the UN, can we help pave the way for elections and beyond, to ensure Libya achieves the stability and prosperity its people deserve.”
She pointed out that “it is vital to bind Libya’s power-brokers into an agreement that will enable the holding of elections as soon as feasible, without risking progress achieved on peace and stability to date.”
Woodward noted that UN mediation “should take place between those empowered to resolve key sticking points that have long delayed Libya’s progress toward long-term security.” She also praised the positive efforts being exerted by security actors to come together in support of delivering successful elections, adding that their initial commitments are “welcome and should be the foundation for more substantive political compromises that create the conditions for successful elections.”
The British diplomat said that these security actors “also have an important role in committing to and upholding, the security guarantees necessary to enable Libyan’s access to safe, free, and fair elections.”
Woodward reiterated that the crackdown on civil society is deeply concerning, as “civic space must be protected to empower all Libyans to play a role in developing an open and democratic society. It is incumbent on Libyan authorities to rapidly develop and clarify a sustainable legal mechanism that allows for freedom of association, operation, and assembly, as guaranteed in the Constitutional Declaration.”
The British Ambassador encouraged Bathily to “continue undertaking meaningful engagement with civil society to ensure wider Libyan voices, including women and youth, are heard throughout the political process.”
Libya has been chaotic since a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The county has for years been split between rival administrations, each backed by rogue militias and foreign governments.
The current stalemate grew out of the failure to hold elections in December 2021, and the refusal of Prime Minister Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba, who is leading the transitional government, to step down. In response, the country’s eastern-based Parliament appointed a rival Prime Minister, Fathi Bashagha, who has for months sought to install his government in Tripoli.