Libya and the United Nations Security Council
What are Libya’s priorities in the United Nations Security Council? This is a question that has been raised repeatedly since my country sought membership in the Security Council, and particularly since Libya was elected to the Council for the period of 2008-2009.*
Libya, through its membership in the UN Security Council, will seek to maintain constructive collaboration with permanent and elected members, in order to achieve the aims of the UN Charter, as outlined in Chapter I, particularly with respect to the maintenance of peace and security in accordance with the principles of justice and international law. Libya also will contribute, with its utmost capabilities, to the settlement of issues of immediate concern to its interests, namely African and Arab issues.
Undoubtedly, as the only Arab member in the Council, it is our duty to give special attention to the issues of the Middle East and North Africa. At the forefront of Middle Eastern issues is the “Question of Palestine.” Six decades have elapsed without an end to the devastating conflict from which all the peoples of the region have suffered. The fact remains, however, that the plight and suffering of the Palestinian people is sui generis, unique in its dimensions and severity.
The international community must work diligently to enable the Palestinian people to regain their legitimate rights, and an agreement must be achieved regarding the right of return of refugees. It seems that there is a tendency in the Security Council to curtail discussion of the Palestinian question. We believe that an issue of such seriousness, with important repercussions for international peace and security, should not be withheld from consideration by the Security Council. Practices of the last two decades have proven the ineffectiveness of this exclusionist trend. The Libyan vision towards the treatment of the Palestinian question may differ from that envisioned by some Arab parties. Nonetheless, Libya will be keen on reflecting Arab views, through consultation with the Arab Group in the United Nations, especially given that the Arab Summit in Beirut endorsed an Arab initiative in 2002.
Libya also will deal with issues pertaining to North Africa. My country has extensive borders with Sudan (383 km.) and Chad (1,055 km.). Events in both countries, which are related to Libya on human, cultural, geographic, historical and strategic levels, have a direct and prompt effect on Libya. Consequently, since its independence in 1951, Libya has been keenly interested in cooperating with these two countries and cementing relations with them. My country also has shown a dedicated interest in addressing unstable conditions that may arise in these two countries. Recent instability in Sudan and Chad, coupled with escalating tensions in relations between them, is truly regrettable. Those tensions have brought with them an unprecedented deterioration in humanitarian conditions in the Darfur region of Sudan, Eastern Chad and Central Africa.
Through the Security Council, Libya will support the deployment of a combined force in Darfur. It also will support UN efforts to stabilize the security situation in Eastern Chad and the northeast region of Central Africa.Libya believes that diplomacy and reconciliation are the most effective methods to achieve stability and thus create circumstances conducive to the improvement of living conditions and the realization of sustainable development which puts an end to misery and poverty in those regions. Libya has worked directly with the concerned parties locked in conflict in Darfur and Chad, and also with those in Chad and Sudan. These efforts culminated in the signing of the Tripoli Agreement between Sudan and Chad on February 8, 2006. An agreement also was concluded between the Chadian rebels and the Government of Chad in Sirt on October 25, 2007.
Libya supports the efforts of the United Nations to reach an agreement between the Government of Sudan and the rebel groups. In October 2007, my country hosted the talks between the Government of Sudan and the rebels in Sirt. We coordinated with Mr. Jan Eliasson and Mr. Salem Ahmed Salem, envoys of the United Nations and the African Union respectively. The African Union, at its summit conference held in Addis Ababa,** entrusted the brother Leader, Muammar al-Qadhafi and the Congolese President, Denis Sassou-Nguesso, with the task of overseeing the reconciliation efforts in Chad between the disputing parties.
Libya’s interest in the African region, however, is not limited to those countries with whom it shares a border. We also work through the Security Council to address conditions along the Ethiopian-Eritrean border, and also in Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone. We also are working with the Security Council to promote a direct presence for the United Nations in Somalia, similar to Darfur. The situation in Somalia has deteriorated to such an extent that makes it imperative for the international community to intervene.
Another priority for Libya in the Security Council is the fight against terrorism. Our country has suffered considerably from extremism and terrorism. For this reason, our cooperation in the fight against terrorism has been appreciated by all. However, in order to render truly effective the efforts of the international community in the fight against terrorism, Libya believes that it is necessary to develop a definition for terrorism. To this end, we called for the convening of an international conference, under the auspices of the United Nations. Libya feels that a clear distinction should be drawn between terrorism and the legitimate right by nations to oppose occupation. We further believe that the use of military force is not enough to eradicate terrorism. In order to conquer terrorism, the root causes must be addressed. Nonetheless, we firmly believe that acts of terrorism are unethical and unjustifiable. However, certain circumstances and conditions could create an environment conducive to its evolvement. We believe that this is an important factor to be addressed, concurrently with other efforts related to the fight against terrorism.
A fourth major issue—and one that we feel the international community must accord a degree of attention commensurate with its serious consequences for mankind—is non-proliferation. We think that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) is based on three pillars, which should be respected, in a balanced and non-discriminatory manner:
- First Pillar: Nonproliferation.
- Second Pillar: Nuclear disarmament must be comprehensive. Libya, therefore, demands that countries which possess nuclear weapons comply with this principle, in accordance with the Sixth Article of the Treaty, as nonproliferation and disarmament are two faces of the same coin.
- Third Pillar: The right of all states to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the development of capabilities in this area is inalienable.
Libya has set an example for others when it voluntarily took the initiative in 2003 to dispose of all equipment and programs which could lead to the production of internationally prohibited weapons. Libya thus feels strongly that the efforts of the international community in this area should be comprehensive and non-selective. All states should have an obligation to subject their nuclear installations and activities to the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya is a small developing country with limited capabilities. It will always endeavor, however, to collaborate with other members of the Security Council to address all issues and matters put before the Council, even those concerning countries geographically remote from its region.
* Editor’s Note: According to a January 3, 2008, report from the UN News Service, Libya “was elected last year by the General Assembly to serve as a non-permanent member on the [Security] Council for a two-year term beginning on January 1, along with Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Croatia and Vietnam. It also assumed the Council’s presidency for January under a system by which the post rotates every month in alphabetical order by country name.”
** Editor’s Note: According to the Web site of the African Union, the tenth African Union Summit was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from January 25-February 2, 2008.
Permanent Representative of Libya to the United Nations