International Conference for Libya (12 November 2021): last push for the political transition in Libya


France is working towards finding a lasting solution to the Libya crisis, ending 10 years of instability, which have had significant security consequences for the Libyan population, North Africa, the Sahel and Europe.

An unwavering commitment to resolving the crisis in Libya

The French President Emmanuel Macron was personally involved in laying the groundwork to find a political solution in Libya:

  • At the International Conference in Paris in May 2018, where the main Libyan political leaders (Prime Minister Al-Sarraj, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, Speaker of the House of Representatives Aguila Saleh and President of the High Council of State Khaled al Mishri) committed to the implementation of an inclusive political roadmap.

France has stood alongside Libyan politicians ever since, in the face of their security, political and economic challenges, through constructive dialogue with all stakeholders in the conflict.

It has actively participated in building the international consensus needed to resolve the crisis, by:

France has also helped rally support from Libya’s neighbouring countries and regional players to facilitate the resumption of inter-Libyan dialogue.

France’s efforts have also led to ongoing mobilization at European level. The Libyan crisis has had serious consequences on Europe, including terrorist threats, migration risks and foreign interference, particularly from Turkey and Russia, requiring the European Union to act together on this issue to ensure the safety of all its members.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, travelled to Tripoli on 21 October 2021, to attend the Libya Stability Support Conference organized by the Government of National Unity. He took this opportunity to call upon Libyan leaders to complete the political process.

Why was the Paris Conference organized at this stage of the political process?

Libya has entered into a political transition, with the help of the United Nations. A ceasefire was agreed on 23 October 2020, followed by an agreement on a political roadmap providing for presidential and legislative elections to be held on 24 December 2021.

The electoral process continues to move forward. Libya’s High National Elections Commission (HNEC) confirmed that registration for candidacies would be open from 7 to 21 November, following the adoption of a legal basis for the elections, and that they had begun to distribute voter cards throughout the country. In just three days, 286 people submitted their candidacies for the legislative elections and more than 111,000 – one third of them women – came to collect their voter cards. This highlights the genuine determination of the Libyan people to move towards elections.

As the presidential and legislative elections draw near, renewed international mobilization is needed for the political transition to succeed. There is still some resistance, from Libya and abroad, to prevent Libyans’ democratic expression. We must leverage our collective mobilization to overcome these issues and provide the political impetus needed for the Libyan people to implement the commitments they themselves made.

With this in mind, President Macron decided to organize an International Conference for Libya on 12 November 2021. The aim is to maintain a positive trajectory towards elections, whose results must be respected by all.

This conference is co-chaired with our German, Italian and Libyan counterparts in close collaboration with the United Nations. It aims to:

  • Give decisive impetus to the political process ahead of the upcoming elections;
  • Rally all partners involved to fully implement the ceasefire agreed on 23 October 2020 and put an end to foreign interference in Libya;
  • Fully take into account the regional dimension of the Libyan crisis.

The International Conference for Libya brings together Berlin Process Member States, Libya’s southern neighbours (Niger and Chad), as well as Cyprus, Spain, Greece, Jordan, Malta and Qatar.

Outcome of the International Conference on Libya

The International Conference on Libya was an unprecedented event, with Libya taking part as co-chair alongside Germany and Italy. The participants adopted a four-part declaration:
• A political dimension (supporting the holding of the elections);
• A security dimension (including on withdrawal of foreign mercenaries and foreign forces);
• An economic dimension (particularly focused on equitable and transparent distribution of resources across the whole country and the reform and reunification of financial institutions);
• A dimension on international humanitarian law and human rights.

The declaration confirm the participants’ clear support for the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections and respect for the electoral calendar and the work of the High National Elections Commission (HNEC). It commits the Libyan transitional authorities and the international community to respecting the outcome of the elections. The participants expressed their intention to provide the necessary support for the smooth running of the elections.

With this in mind, France stressed the need to help Libya’s men and women to restore their full sovereignty, by working to ensure full implementation of the ceasefire agreement of 23 October 2020 reached by the 5+5 Joint Military Commission (JMC). As such, the participants endorsed the Action Plan for the withdrawal of mercenaries, foreign fighters and foreign forces developed by the JMC. The JMC, which the transitional authorities wished to rename the “Commission of 10” during the Conference to highlight the restoration of the country’s unity, announced an initial departure of 300 African mercenaries. This progress created conditions conducive to real progress and the definition of upcoming milestones by the JMC for the implementation of the Libyan Action Plan.

This progress has continued since the conference, with the preparation of the elections by the HNEC. The enthusiasm of the Libyan people across the country has not waned:
• Since poll cards began to be distributed on 8 November, almost all the 2.8 million people on the electoral register have received their cards. This highlights the genuine determination of the Libyan people to move towards elections.
• The candidates in the presidential and parliamentary elections come from all Libya’s regions and represent all political movements. Dozens of them have submitted their candidacy for one or the other of the elections.

France continues to work to ensure an inclusive electoral process and encourages dialogue between all political stakeholders in order to ensure the results of the elections are recognized and respected by all.