Stephanie Williams Accuses Libyan Authorities of Undermining Sovereignty


On Monday, the former acting UN Envoy to Libya, Stephanie Williams shed light on the dominant role of foreign intervention in the country’s crisis, which has been ongoing since 2011.

The US diplomat strongly criticized the ruling elites of Libya, stating that “foreign powers found open doors for intervention, an invitation made by the conflicting Libyan parties.”

She asserted that “foreign entities have, at times, exploited Libya’s disintegration, and profited from the frailty of the virtually non-existent state.” As well as charging Libya’s governing elite with their “pronounced inclination to trade off their nation’s sovereignty for trivial gains.”

Williams expounded that “Libya, since 1969, plunged into the grips of four decades of rule under a single tyrannical figure. Consequently, Libya was transformed into an internationally ostracized state, groaning under the weight of multiple sanctions, with its people increasingly secluded from the world.”

The political and military successors to Gaddafi, whom she terms “neophytes in the global arena, embarrassingly attempted to balance between domestic and international matters. They revelled in political tourism, seeking legitimacy in foreign capitals, a legitimacy they could not attain from their own citizens.”

These priorities span a wide range of issues that include combating terrorism, addressing immigration fears, controlling oil resources, countering religious extremism, exploiting Libya’s wealth, and securing strategic bases within geopolitically significant regions in the country.

Williams clarified that the “international community, at the bare minimum, needs to respect Libyans’ wishes, support the rule of law, honour human rights, and enforce accountability in Libya. There’s no need to start from scratch concerning the international structure, especially the Berlin Process and its associated task groups. The factors which formed the bedrock on which the process was constructed still stand – an impotent Security Council and opportunistic approaches by influential nations.” Williams underscored the necessity of this international framework to “back UN mediation and exert pressure on Libyan parties.”

Williams, who departed from her role as advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Libya in July 2022, stated that this approach, characterized by self-interest and opportunism, stands in stark contrast to the UN’s mandate.

She contended that the UN’s mission is to “facilitate peace, and enable the Libyan people to establish a representative government as well as accountable institutions.”