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Ambassador Jerry Matjila: United Nations Security Council Briefing on Libya

19 Nov 2020

Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the Security Council Briefing on Libya

Let me begin by thanking Ms Stephanie Williams (the Acting Special Representative of the Secretary General) for her briefing.

Acting Special Representative, Ms Williams, we would like to thank you for your tireless efforts and sustained diplomatic shuttling between the Libyan parties. Your broad and consistent consultations with all actors throughout Libya, testifies that indeed, given the opportunity, women can lead!

You have given pride to millions of women everywhere especially as we celebrate in 2020, Beijing +25, the 20th anniversary of Resolution 1325 on WPS and the 75th anniversary of the UN Charter towards the future we want.

We also welcome the PR of Libya, Amb Taher Elsonni, to our meeting today and are looking forward to his briefing on the latest developments in his homeland.

Madame President,

South Africa is encouraged by the recent positive developments in Libya which we believe has initiated a process to lead Libyans on a positive trajectory, therefore, we encourage the parties to continue the momentum in the interest of all Libyans. In this regard, my remarks this morning will focus on three points, the security developments, political track and the economic and humanitarian situation.

Firstly, South Africa welcomes the progress made in Libya with the signing of the ceasefire agreement on 23 October 2020 and the continued in-person engagement of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission to give practical expression to the agreement.

 We welcome the relative calm and cessation of hostilities, which are a result of the holding ceasefire. We are also encouraged by the prevailing amicable and harmonious conduct of the parties at the negotiations.

These developments build trust and confidence in the process as it unfolds and we must sustain this momentum going forward, as we reaffirm that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Libya. This has proven to be self-evident as the drawn-out conflict has held no benefit for the people of Libya and has only brought destruction and unnecessary suffering.

Instead, the constructive discussion we have witnessed have paved the way towards a political roadmap which should ultimately contribute to a peaceful and sustainable political solution. In this regard, South Africa wishes to reiterate that an inclusive Libyan-led and Libyan-owned political process is essential to build towards a sustainable political solution.

Madame President,

Secondly, South Africa believes that united institutions in Libya will form the basis for the restoration of justice, and accountability for all Libyan citizens and we continue to express our full support for the UN’s three-step political process as per the outcome of the UN-led Berlin process.

 We welcome the resumption of the in-person Libyan Political Dialogue Forum held in Tunis from 9 November and express our appreciation to the Government of Tunisia for accompanying the Libyan people in their quest for peace and stability.

These talks are significant and have led to agreement on critical decisions including the holding of elections on 24 December 2021, opening of airports and resumption of local flights, opening of roads linking cities, and establishment of a joint force to protect oil facilities and infrastructure. We express our full support to these talks as the parties move ever closer to a roadmap for free, fair, and credible parliamentary and presidential elections.

In this regard, South Africa reiterates its support for the on-going efforts of the African Union through its Peace and Security Council and High-Level Committee on Libya and its Contact Group as well as the work of the AU Special Envoy for Libya as they continue to engage with main stakeholders in the country. We believe these efforts of the United Nations and the African Union should work in unison to achieve the common goal of ending the conflict in Libya.

Madame President,

Thirdly, we must all bear in mind that if conflict continues in Libya it will only lead to the further deterioration of the humanitarian and economic conditions, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. South Africa is, therefore, deeply concerned by the devastation and humanitarian impact which the conflict has already wrought.

We welcome the resumption of oil production and export of oil for the benefit of all Libyans. We are pleased to note that oil production has consequently increased to one million barrels a day, which will increase revenue and alleviate some of the economic suffering. We also welcome the efforts of the Libyan sanctions committee to ensure that all Libyan’s do in fact benefit and that the arms embargo is respected to stem the fuelling of any further conflict.

In this regard, we call on all foreign interference in Libya to end as it not only prolongs the suffering as a result of continued armed conflict, but it threatens the sovereignty of Libya and efforts to unify State authority.

Madame President,

Much remains to be done to ensure that this positive start towards ensuring sustainable peace, security and development in Libya. It is important to put in place a ceasefire monitoring and verification mechanism that will help to preserve the current relative calm and any further violence.

The verification of the repatriation of foreign fighters with all their equipment and arms should form an important part of this process. It is further necessary to remove all land mines around cities, service points and infrastructure.

As for the road ahead in terms of the political dialogue and putting in place the constitutional framework whereby elections will eventually be held, we call on all parties as well as the UN, AU and partners to work expeditiously to commence this work so that elections can take place as agreed by the parties.

We believe these steps can take place concurrently with the African Union’s efforts to convene an inter-Libyan Reconciliation Conference in Addis Ababa which will be key to bringing Libyans together and healing the country.

In this regard, South Africa would like to call on the Secretary-General, in accordance with Resolution 2542, to appoint a Special Envoy to oversee and support the political process in Libya without delay.

In conclusion, Madame President, we are confident that soon, the Libyan people will deliver themselves from the near decade-old tumult and armed conflict through sustained inclusive political dialogue with the coordinated support of the international community.

I thank you.