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Statement at Arria Meeting on Impact of Departure of Foreign Fighters from Libya

Thank you very much indeed Martin and I want to say thank you also to our A3+1 colleagues for bringing us together once again on what we regard as a really important issue.


I want to thank our briefers for their perspectives and very useful

contributions this afternoon.


As I have said before, the political progress we have seen in Libya has been significant and of course welcome, and in line with the desire of the Libyan people themselves for a better future. To continue to move forward, my country reiterates the need for effective implementation of all the provisions of the 23 October Ceasefire Agreement, and this includes of course the immediate withdrawal of all foreign fighters and mercenaries.


We share the concerns of the A3+1 who convened us today that, despite the clear provisions in the Ceasefire Agreement and repeated calls from this Council, armed foreign fighters and mercenaries continue to be present in Libya.


Ireland believes that the Council should actively consider possible measures to support Libya in implementing the provisions of the Ceasefire Agreement. 


However, as we have heard this afternoon, the concerns of Libya’s neighbours regarding relevant groups must also be addressed. Supporting peace in Libya must also be accompanied by dedicated efforts to ensure that instability in the Sahel region is not further exacerbated by the return of foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya to countries of origin in the Sahel.


As regards those groups who originated in the Sahel, there is a need to integrate our efforts right across the region, including support to effective development and peace interventions in countries of return. Key to this is effective disarmament, demobilisation and community reintegration activity, which enhances—rather than undermines—ongoing peace processes.


Instability in the Sahel is not only a concern for the region, but is a concern for all of us. We commend the countries of the G5 Sahel and the broader region in leading efforts to promote peace and security in the Sahel, efforts contributed to by the European Union including through significant support to the G5 Sahel Joint Force. 


We recognise the need for predictable and sustainable funding for the Force and we are open to exploring ways forward to ensure this, listening particularly to the perspectives of the region.


UN missions and offices can play of course a coordinating role here, including generating support for implementing measures, as requested, and as mandates allow.


Regional Organisations, including the African Union and the European Union, can also play a valuable part in this effort, as demonstrated by the EU’s Border Assistance Mission.


In this context, the co-sponsorship of today’s session is an encouraging testament I think to the commitment of regional states to this effort.


Ireland believes that the Council can play a role in bolstering this commitment by more effectively leveraging our sanctions toolbox and mechanisms, both in the context of Libya and beyond.


In advancing the process of DDR, we must also consider gender-responsive and human rights based approaches. Addressing root causes is essential to effective and lasting DDR. We need to consider how to create peace dividends for all of our societies, particularly ex-combatants, and to ensure DDR is integrated in peacebuilding processes.


Security Sector Reform in Libya and in neighbouring countries also has a vital role to play.


It is critical in our view that these processes have strong community and civil society involvement and oversight, both in Libya and in neighbouring countries of the Sahel, including through addressing community grievances over access to justice and human rights compliance.  The inclusion of women should also be ensured, and facilitated.


To conclude, Ireland agrees fully with the A3+1 on the need to consider effective measures to support Libyan implementation of this crucial provision of the ceasefire agreement, while also recognising the need for regional cooperation to address the concerns of neighbouring countries.


We encourage future written and oral reporting by UNSMIL, drawing on the wider UN System, to address this important issue, so that Member States can be assured that this issue is receiving the highest priority.


In the light of this reporting, my country Ireland is willing to consider adjustments to UNSMIL’s mandate when the Council reviews it in September, in particular whether more can be done on SSR and DDR to help address this important issue. 


Thank you.

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