Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, on the occasion of Security Council Meeting on Libya, 29 July 2019

Mr President,

I would like to welcome and thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr Ghassan Salamé for his enlightening briefing and I also thank the Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany, Ambassador Jürgen Schulz for a comprehensive update on the work of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee.

At the outset, I wish to express my delegation’s concern with the continued air strikes and indiscriminate artillery in areas that are densely populated in Libya, which has resulted in loss of lives and further exacerbated the already dire humanitarian situation in the affected areas. Therefore, we urge the parties to agree to an immediate cessation of hostilities in order to end the military confrontations.

Following the unfortunate attacks on the Tajoura Migration Detention Centre earlier this month, the African Union Peace and Security Council called for an independent investigation into the attacks, which South Africa firmly supports. In this regard, we look forward to the outcomes of the investigation with a view to bring the perpetrators of these atrocious acts to justice.

The worsening humanitarian situation remains the central concern for South Africa. In this regard, we urge the international community to continue to contribute towards the United Nations Humanitarian Plan to assist those in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.  

South Africa wishes to express its concern that the longer the crisis continues it further exacerbates the humanitarian and developmental challenges that are faced by the people of Libya and the region as a whole. These consequences include the proliferation of terrorist groups, which are gaining ground, the illegal smuggling and use of arms, trafficking and transnational organised crime.

On the political process, I extend my delegation’s gratitude to SRSG Salamé and express full support for his continued efforts to take forward the two-track mediation process to engage with the stakeholders in Libya as we were informed in the last briefing to the Council. However, we deeply regret the political stalemate highlighted by the report received from the SRSG. South Africa is of the firm belief that the peaceful resolution of the conflict should remain the utmost priority for this Council with regard to its efforts in Libya. For close to a decade now, we have been witnessing the effects of armed conflict as well as a military interventionist approach. The Council should take a lesson from this. Military solutions may appear to have short-term benefits, but they often do not lead to the lasting peace that is needed.

It is of concern that both sides have not agreed to resume the political process. It is South Africa’s belief that compromise from both sides is critical for the de-escalation of tensions, to pave the way for the political process to resume as soon as possible.

It will also be crucial for Libya to decide on a new date for the national conference as its indefinite postponement does not inspire trust and confidence in the process. In this regard, we urge the parties to resume the political process and create an environment conducive for the national conference to take place. We wish to take this opportunity to remind the parties that the national conference must be led by the Libyans themselves, with the support of the United Nations, the African Union, neighbouring countries and the broader international community, which we believe will lead Libya on a positive trajectory. 

Mr President,

We would like to emphasise the central role of the African Union as provided for in the Chapter VIII of the UN Charterin working closely with the countries of the region to find a durable solution to the political stalemate in Libya. In this context, we echo the views of the AUPSC at its 857th meeting in July 2019 that all partners involved in the political process of finding a sustainable settlement to the crisis in Libya, should endeavour to complement the efforts of the AU.

Mr President,

With respect to sanctions, South Africa wishes to reiterate its position on the importance of sanctions as a useful tool to advance a political process. Sanctions are not an end in themselves and should not be politicised in any way to advance a particular agenda.

The renewal of the Libya sanctions regime in June this year demonstrates the Council’s recognition of the importance of the sanctions regime and the positive impact it will have on the political process in Libya. We are however concerned about the reports received from the Panel of Experts regarding the lack of effective implementation of the Libya sanctions measures. This is indicative of the continued involvement of external actors in Libya and will only serve to prolong the armed conflict and hostilities. It is imperative for Member States to meet their obligations in this respect.

We are also particularly concerned about the continued violations of the arms embargo, which are counterproductive to the political process and also fuel the conflict in Libya. In this regard, we urge the perpetrators to refrain from such practice, which continues to undermine any prospects for progress in finding a solution to the conflict.

In conclusion Mr President, we wish to emphasise the importance of both sides to the conflict committing to a ceasefire and resuming the political process, which in our view will pave the way for the National Conference led by the Libyans themselves. It is crucial for this process to be inclusive of all members of society, including women and youth, to ensure that no one is left behind in the implementation of the collective decisions taken at the National Conference.

I thank you

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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