Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the UN Security Council Meeting on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), 2 September 2020

Mr President,

I thank the Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ms Stephanie Williams, for her statement as well as the Chair of the 1970 Committee, Ambassador Günter Sautter for his briefing.

Allow me to begin by expressing South Africa’s deep concern at the prevailing security situation in Libya. The continued military confrontations and escalations, particularly in and around Sirte in weeks, are of grave concern to us.

We call on the parties to cease all hostilities with immediate effect and heed the calls for a permanent and lasting ceasefire, as called for by the parties. South Africa firmly believes this will create an environment for inclusive dialogue to pave the way towards a Libyan-led, Libyan-owned political process.

In this regard, we welcome both the ceasefire announced on Friday, 21 August 2020, by the Government of National Accord that indicated that all "combat operations in all Libyan territories" had been halted, as well as the announcement to hold elections as early as March 2021. South Africa continues to support the peace process as supported by the African Union (AU) through its Peace and Security Council, the 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 the main stakeholders in Libya.

Mr President,

The continued insecurity in Libya has further exacerbated the humanitarian and economic conditions on the ground, which have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reports of alleged abuses and violations of international humanitarian law and human rights are worrisome. In this regard, we welcome the appointment of the members of the international Fact-Finding Mission to Libya, which will be crucial in ensuring that the perpetrators are held accountable.

Moreover, Libya’s ailing economy, exacerbated by the continued blockage of oil exports is a worrying trend which does not serve the interests of all Libyans. We welcome calls for the resumption of oil production, and for exports to resume fully, which will bring in much-needed revenue and improve the economic and financial situation for the benefit of all Libyans. We encourage continued talks to find a sustainable solution to the economic challenges.

Mr President,

In seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict, we wish to reiterate South Africa’s and the African Union’s support for the conclusions of the Berlin Conference as endorsed by Resolution 2510 (2020). These processes are vital for the achievement of peace in Libya. In this regard, South Africa encourages the continued support and commitment of the Security Council to strengthening the cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations. This is of paramount importance to ensure common purpose to put an end to the conflict in Libya.

Mr President,

Despite repeated calls for strict adherence to the arms embargo, violations persist by both parties as well as external players, with an influx of weapons and foreign fighters into Libya. In this regard, we welcome the calls for the implementation of sanctions against those who violate the arms embargo.

We appeal to all countries concerned and those responsible for recruiting foreign fighters to immediately withdraw them from Libya and cease these activities. We recommend demobilisation and demilitarisation of those involved in the confrontations, integration of Libyan citizens into local societies and for foreign fighters to be repatriated to their countries of origin.

Furthermore, the continued involvement of external actors remains a threat to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Libya. We therefore reiterate our call for an end to foreign interference in order to allow efforts to unify state authority.

Mr President,

In conclusion, we underscore the importance of appointing a new Special Representative of the Secretary-General who will oversee and support the political process in Libya. We extend our full support to UNSMIL and the important work it continues to carry out through its mandate. In this context, we support the renewal of its mandate for another 12 months.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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