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Statement by Ambassador Günter Sautter during the UN Security Council VTC Meeting on Libya, September 2, 2020

02.09.2020 - Speech

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Let me start with the glimmers of hope. We welcome the declarations in favor of a ceasefire by Prime Minister Serraj and Speaker of the House of Representatives Saleh. This is a real window of opportunity. This gesture of compromise must now also feed into the 5+5 for talks. It must be translated into a lasting ceasefire agreement.

This is an opportunity we must not miss. The coming days and weeks will be a test of national responsibility, including for Mr. Haftar and the LNA. Let me make this clear: protracted rejection of talks is unacceptable. The 5+5 talks must continue constructively. We take note of the optimism expressed by UNSMIL in the recent report of the Secretary General. We must all support this approach.

The country's wealth is the property of the Libyan people. Therefore, we call for an immediate lifting of the oil blockade by the LNA. 

We wholeheartedly support Acting SRSG Stephanie Williams for her unwavering dedication. At the same time, we want to strongly underline the need to agree on a successor of Ghassan Salame swiftly in this Council, with a view to the upcoming mandate renewal. UNSMIL must be enabled to quickly react to provide the necessary support for monitoring possible ceasefire and for a demilitarized zone.

Now, let me come to the gloomy elements. I want to enumerate three. The first one SRSG Williams has already referred to the tensions within the GNA. We have noted with serious concern recent internal tensions in Tripoli. And we call on all government actors to respect the rule of law and to act responsibly for the common good.

The second gloomy aspect I wish to stress is the arms embargo and the violations of this embargo. It is foreign interference by a number of countries that keep reappearing in the reports of the panel of experts of the Libya sanctions committee that is fanning the flames of this conflict. Delivery of guns and bombs, of UAVs, of missiles and launch systems, of armoured vehicles, of ground and air defense systems, this entire buildup of arms and military material is obvious, as is the harmful presence of foreign fighters and mercenaries.

These blatant violations of the arms embargo must end in this Council. We frequently have exchanges on double standards and hypocrisy. We believe that this is a very good example of this and we are extremely concerned by the fact that members of the Security Council and participants of the Berlin Conference are involved in this.

We must therefore continue to increase pressure through targeted sanctions with operation. With EUNAVFOR Med Irini, the EU has so far been the only actor implementing the mandate. We need more credible international engagement to fight against arms embargo violations and violators.

The third gloomy aspect I wish to touch upon is attacks against civilians and violations of international humanitarian law and human rights. The continued suffering of the civilian population remains alarming. We see a rising death toll of the civilian population due to mines, unexploded ordinance and victim operated explosive devices left behind in southern Tripoli by General Haftar forces. We are horrified by the discovery of multiple mass graves in Tarhouna. The perpetrators must be found and brought to justice. We therefore commend you for providing the technical support to the Libyan government to conduct its investigation as UN registered an increase in reports of human rights violations. We need to also support the mission and the Libyan people amidst the demonstrations. Libya has witnessed during the past days the call for the full preservation of the civil and political rights of all Libyans.

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