Fourth meeting of the Libya Contact Group
Established at the London Conference of 29 March with a view to coordinating international efforts in support of Libya and having held its three previous meetings respectively in Doha, Rome and Abu Dhabi, the Libya Contact Group met for the fourth time in Istanbul on 15 July 2011 under the co-chairmanship of the Republic of Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Representatives from 32 countries and seven international organizations, including the United Nations, European Union, NATO, the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, the Gulf Cooperation Council and, as an invitee, the African Union discussed recent developments regarding Libya and reviewed the progress achieved since the Group’s previous successful meeting in Abu Dhabi with a view to taking further steps in support of the quest of the Libyan people for a democratic and free Libya.
The participants reaffirmed that the Contact Group remains the appropriate platform for the international community to be a focal point of contact with the Libyan people, to coordinate international policy and to be a forum for discussion of humanitarian and post-conflict support. They welcomed the participation for the first time of Brazil, India, Senegal, the Republic of Korea and Ukraine which joined the Contact Group in an observer capacity.
In the face of unfolding developments in Libya, the Contact Group affirmed its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Libya. While paying utmost importance to avoidance of long-lasting divisions among Libyans, the Group reaffirmed its solidarity with the Libyan people in the pursuit of their legitimate cause for a democratic and free Libya. In this vein, participants reiterated their continuing unity in acting in cooperation and coordination to implement in full UNSCRs 1970 and 1973. The Group welcomed the steps taken by individual countries in order to ensure the effective implementation of the said UNSCRs and strongly urged the countries which have not yet done so to ensure the full implementation of these resolutions.
The Group appreciated the efficient and effective role played by NATO’s and its partners’ "Operation Unified Protector" in the implementation of UNSCRs 1970 and 1973 with respect to the protection of civilians and welcomed the extension of NATO’s operation for another 90 days and the increased national contributions to the operation particularly those by the United Kingdom and France. Convinced that military means alone cannot resolve the crisis in Libya, the Group stressed the need for an immediate political transition.
The Group stressed that the need for establishment of a genuine ceasefire and provision of safe humanitarian access remain as urgent as ever. The participants reiterated that successful implementation of a ceasefire would require the immediate withdrawal of the forces of the Regime in Tripoli to bases, the release of all those detained or kidnapped by the Gaddafi regime, the opening of all borders and border gates in order to ensure fast and unimpeded passage of humanitarian aid and the treatment of the wounded and the provision of water and electricity to all cities and regions in order to help normalize life. The Group reaffirmed its support for the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people which requires a process of comprehensive and inclusive political transition.
The Contact Group reaffirmed that the Gaddafi regime no longer has any legitimate authority in Libya and that Gaddafi and certain members of his family must go. Henceforth and until an interim authority is in place, participants agreed to deal with the National Transitional Council (NTC) as the legitimate governing authority in Libya. The Group welcomed the role of the NTC in leading the transition process in Libya and expressed support for its efforts to broaden its popular base to embrace all Libyan people. The Group urged all relevant parties to explore ways and means of paving the way for the formation of an interim government to ensure a smooth and peaceful transition of power with the widest popular support possible. In line with the NTC’s "Road Map", the formation of an interim government should be quickly followed by the convening of a National Congress with representatives from all parts of Libya.
The Group took note of the decision of the International Criminal Court to issue arrest warrants against Gaddafi, his son Seyful Islam and Libyan Intelligence Chief Mr Senusi. On this occasion, the Group expressed its strong condemnation for violations of international humanitarian and criminal law and deplored all crimes against humanity and war crimes. Participants strongly underlined the need for Gaddafi to step down without further delay and reminded Gaddafi and his associates that their responsibilities and obligations under international law continue and that they will be held responsible for any crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The Contact Group reaffirmed the leading role of the United Nations in facilitating dialogue and supporting an inclusive political transition process, through the good offices of the UN Secretary General through his Special Envoy for Libya. The Contact Group welcomed the efforts of UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Libya and called on all actors to cooperate with the UN Special Envoy and coordinate with him their efforts for contributing to finding a solution to the crisis.
In the light of the need for Gaddafi to go and for a political transition process in Libya, the Contact Group set forth the following overarching principles that would guide efforts in this regard:
Gaddafi must leave power according to defined framework to be publicly announced.
Respect for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and unity of Libya.
There should be justice for Libyans who have suffered atrocities during the conflict, but without reprisals. Perpetrators of atrocities against civilians cannot be part of the negotiating process or of a future political settlement. The transition period will reflect the principles outlined in the NTC’s Road Map, including the formation of a national congress, an interim government, and a supreme executive council.
The transition process will be inclusive, Libyan-owned and representative including the potential participation of select members of the previous bureaucracy as stipulated in the NTC Road Map; the opposition; and other elements of Libyan society. The process should lead to national reconciliation. All groups should have their voices heard.
The participants welcomed the involvement of the African Union as a regional organization in international efforts towards ending the crisis in Libya through a political solution and encouraged the African Union to continue to pursue its constructive efforts in coordination with the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Libya. The Contact Group welcomes the role played by regional organizations such as the African Union, European Union, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the League of Arab States in finding a solution.
While stressing the need to build political, economic and military pressure on the Regime in Tripoli, the Contact Group highlighted the importance of extending political, economic, financial and administrative support to the NTC. In this vein, participants welcomed the decision of an Egyptian court that the satellite provider NILESAT should cease broadcasting Libyan State Television and called for its swift implementation. The Group welcomed the growing political support extended to the NTC manifested by the increasing number of high-level official visits to Benghazi and by the opening of representations or liaison offices in Benghazi.
Participants recalled the obvious need for bolstering international support to the NTC in order to alleviate the Council’s urgent need for cash particularly for sustaining public services and maintaining basic living conditions among the people. In this regard, the Group and the NTC agreed to work together on the disposition of Libya’s overseas assets for use during this transitional period for the benefit of the Libyan people.
The Group took stock of the functioning of the Temporary Financial Mechanism (TFM) which has disbursed its first funds following the Abu Dhabi meeting of the Group and reviewed the state of the flow of financial aid to the NTC through this mechanism. The Group reiterated its strong call to the international community to extend financial support to the NTC through the TFM.
The Contact Group also encouraged the participants to provide substantial financial aid to the NTC within the context of applicable laws, including through mechanisms enabling entities controlled by the NTC to export hydrocarbons, unfreezing Libyan assets to the benefit of the Libyan people or using these frozen assets as guarantee for providing financial aid to the NTC in accordance with the provisions of the relevant UNSCRs. In order to put financing on a more sustainable footing, participants stressed the importance of international support to help the NTC to resume the production and export of crude oil. The Contact Group also welcomed the fulfilment of pledges of US $200 million from Turkey, $100 million from Qatar, $5 million from Bahrain and Italy’s contribution of €250 million in cash and €100 million in refined oil products, and looked forward to disbursement of remaining pledges by France and Kuwait. The Group urged others to follow a similar path in support of the Libyan people.
Participants urged countries which have frozen Libyan assets on their territories pursuant to UNSCRs 1970 and 1973 to open credit lines to the NTC corresponding to 10 to 20% of the frozen assets by accepting them as collateral. In this respect, the Group welcomed Turkey’s and Qatar’s initiatives to provide the NTC with credit accordingly.
Participants also commended the use of frozen assets, at the request of the NTC, to allow continuing funding of bursaries and stipends for Libyan students abroad thereby helping Libya to build its future.
The Contact Group also took note of the activation of the Libyan Information Exchange Mechanism (LIEM) which aims at matching the requests of assistance by the NTC with the offers by the donor countries and commended Italy’s efforts to coordinate its functioning. The Group encouraged those who have not yet assigned a LIEM focal point to designate one as soon as possible and invited potential donors to channel to the designated focal points all information regarding in-kind assistance to the NTC.
Noting that the unfolding situation in Libya since mid-February has disrupted the operations of foreign companies and contractors, the Contact Group welcomed the commitment of the NTC to open up Libya to foreign investment as soon as possible and its commitment to honour any existing legal contracts signed under the Gaddafi regime.
The Contact Group reviewed the humanitarian situation that Libya has been undergoing since the outbreak of events last February which led to partial displacement of the population, mass evacuation of foreigners and destruction of basic socio-economic infrastructure.
The Group expressed deep concern about the humanitarian situation on the ground within and across the borders of Libya where a considerable number of people remain stranded and, thus, in need of immediate help in addition to the growing humanitarian needs of Libyans caught in the fighting with daily accounts of deaths. The Group also noted that continued violence in the country put strains on an already overloaded medical system and hinders the proper functioning of the country’s supply lines for basics like food and water.
In the face of the worrying humanitarian situation in the country, the participants underlined the importance of ensuring unhindered flow of humanitarian assistance to the Libyan people and encouraged states and humanitarian agencies to redouble their efforts in order to relieve the suffering of the Libyan population and support the neighbouring countries that are hosting refugees from Libya.
Reaffirming its strong commitment to support the Libyan people in rebuilding their country to meet their legitimate demands and hopes, the Contact Group held an extensive discussion on Libya’s immediate stabilization and reconstruction needs and those in the early post-conflict stage. In their discussion, the participants welcomed the presentation by the NTC of their plans for the post-conflict stage and noted that this process will be Libyan-led, with the international community in a supportive role.
The participants reiterated the coordinating role of the UN in leading the international efforts to assist Libyans in the field of post-conflict planning for early recovery and peace-building and they encouraged the UN to accelerate its planning to coordinate for the immediate transition, in order to coordinate the efforts of the international community to support Libyan needs.
The participants of the Contact Group expressed their thanks and appreciation to His Excellency Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, for organizing and hosting this timely meeting. It was agreed to hold the fifth meeting of the Contact Group in New York on the sidelines of the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly, or sooner if necessary./.
¹ Source of English text: US Department of State website.