Libya - Statement by Jean-Yves Le Drian at the UN Security Council (15 July 2021)


Prime Minister,


Special Envoy of the Secretary General for Libya,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Following a decade of instability, the Libyan people are aspiring to live in a safe, united and sovereign country.

This aspiration is legitimate. We have the responsibility to support it, by mobilizing to ensure that the window of opportunity that opened at the end of last year does not close.

The signing of the October 23 ceasefire agreement between the Libyan parties, the meeting of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, and the inauguration of the National Unity Government by Parliament are all signs that progress is possible.

Many Libyans have demonstrated good will, regardless of the camp they belong to, showing their determination to write a new chapter in the history of their country, prioritizing their commitment to Libyan sovereignty.

I would like to thank the United Nations, which supported them on the path towards dialogue. In particular the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy, Jan Kubis, with whom we are working closely.

I would also like to commend the spirit of responsibility that has guided the work of this Council since the beginning of the year. The unanimous adoption of resolutions 2570, 2571 and 2578 send a strong message of support to the political transition and the return to security.

But we also know that there are real threats hanging over this process, and the Special Envoy’s briefing shows us this. We must work to dispel these threats.

Firstly, it is essential, imperative that the electoral calendar be respected.

The legislative and presidential elections must take place on December 24.

  • This date is expected by Libyans.
  • It was set by the Political Dialogue Forum.
  • It was endorsed on April 16 by Resolution 2570 of this Council, and on June 23 by the Berlin II Conference.
  • However, it was contested by some participants at the last meeting of the Forum in Geneva.

This calendar is the cornerstone of the transition process. We cannot, therefore, under any circumstances, compromise on the date of December 24, whatever the reason may be.

I recall that the mandate given by the Political Forum and the House of Representatives to the Libyan Transitional Executive is to ensure the organization of elections by the end of the year, and that this mandate runs until December 24.

I would also like to recall that this Council was clear, with its resolution 2571: anyone who attempts to jeopardize the political process may be designated for sanctions.

Another imperative is the withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries, whose presence is a violation of this Council’s resolutions and a grave attack on Libya’s sovereignty.

It is time to implement a progressive, symmetrical and sequenced timetable for the departure of foreign elements from both sides. We have made precise proposals to this effect, which have been widely discussed with members of the Berlin Process.

This withdrawal could initially concern Syrian mercenaries from both sides, starting in the coming weeks. This first step would allow to initiate a dynamic aimed at the ultimate departure of all foreign forces and mercenaries from Libyan territory.

In this perspective, the situation of Libya’s neighbouring countries must of course be taken into account. I am thinking in particular of countries of the Sahel, which have already paid far too heavy a price due to the instability in Libya. Recent events in Chad remind us that we must ensure that mercenaries from neighbouring countries from Libya are returned to their countries of origin as part of a credible demobilization process.

In terms of security, the utmost vigilance must be maintained.

The end of foreign interference in Libya must be accompanied by progress on the reunification of the army and the dismantling of the militias, to allow civilian authorities to assume their security responsibilities. This process must have the support of all.

Monitoring the ceasefire must remain a priority, through the deployment of a monitoring mechanism under the aegis of UNSMIL and in support of decisions taken by the Libyans.

The fight against terrorism must also continue, particularly in the south of Libya, in close cooperation with the countries in the region.

We must also support the effective reopening of the coastal road, beyond the announcements that have followed one another. This is a strong measure, on which the 5+5 joint military committee has done a remarkable job, which I wish to commend.

Finally, we must work with the Libyan authorities, in full respect of Libya’s sovereignty, to strengthen their control over their land and sea borders.

On the maritime front, the European Union, Italy and France are ready to do more to support the training and equipment of the Libyan coast guard. In terms of training, the IRINI operation could make an essential contribution, beyond its primary function, which is the implementation of the arms embargo decided by this Council.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

For the first time in a long time, peace is within reach in Libya.

I wish to tell you once again today, Mr. Prime Minister, and through you to the Libyan people: the Security Council and the international community are determined to accompany you in the implementation of the political and security roadmap that I just mentioned.

This is also the idea behind the unanimity that was expressed when we adopted the resolutions I mentioned earlier.

This is also the idea behind the Berlin process, which Heiko Maas, who chaired this essential meeting, Berlin II, will detail, where we were able to assess progress made since the first Berlin conference, a year and a half ago.

This is also the aim of the EU commitment, which is united on the Libyan dossier, as we demonstrated with my Italian and German colleagues during our joint visit to Tripoli last March.

And this is also the idea behind the presidential statement that we agreed upon, and I am delighted about this. It sets a clear course and holds to account all those who continue to hinder the process towards a return to stability, whether they be Libyan or non-Libyan actors.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for your attention.