UN chief urges Libya cease-fire, warns its future at stake

In this photo provided by the United Nations, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres briefs reporters during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at U.N. headquarters in New York. (Rick Bajornas/UN Photo via AP)
In this photo provided by the United Nations, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres briefs reporters during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at U.N. headquarters in New York. (Rick Bajornas/UN Photo via AP)

BERLIN – U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday urged world powers and others with interests in Libya’s long-running civil war to stop sending arms to its rival governments and keep working toward a lasting cease-fire, warning that the country’s very future “is at stake.”

Guterres implored those at a virtual ministerial meeting co-hosted by the U.N. and Germany to support peace efforts “not only in words but in actions,” including immediately backing a widely violated U.N. arms embargo against Libya.

“The violations of the embargo are a scandal and call into question the basic commitment to peace of all involved,” he told the closed meeting. “Foreign deliveries of weapons and other military support must stop immediately.”

Germany, which has been trying to act as an intermediary, said the virtual meeting was a chance to review what’s been achieved since Berlin hosted a summit on Libya in January at which participants from both sides agreed to respect an arms embargo and push Libya’s warring parties to reach a full cease-fire. That agreement has been repeatedly violated.

A summary of the ministerial meeting by the co-chairs said participants reaffirmed their commitment to the conclusions of the Berlin conference, strongly welcomed the planned resumption of talks between the rival Libyan parties, and “stressed the need to immediately stop foreign intervention in Libya.”

“There was broad agreement that repeated violations of the United Nations arms embargo had to stop immediately,” the co-chairs said.

A report by the U.N. panel of experts monitoring sanctions against Libya, seen by The Associated Press last month, said the warring parties and their international backers — the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Jordan versus Turkey and Qatar -- violated the arms embargo, which remains “totally ineffective.”

Acting U.N. special envoy Stephanie Williams told a news conference after what she called “a very candid dialogue” among the major players that weapons, mercenaries and equipment “are still pouring into Libya ... on both sides.” This “risks miscalculations on the ground” and poses “a direct threat to Libya’s neighbors,” she said.