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Arria: Foreign Fighters and mercenaries from Libya in Sahel

Statement delivered by Permanent Representative Mona Juul in the Arria-formula meeting on Foreign Fighters and mercenaries from Libya in Sahel, 18 June 2021.

We thank the A3+1 for convening this timely meeting, and the briefers for their insights.

The security and stability of Libya and the wider Sahel region is undermined by the use of southern Libya as a safe haven for foreign fighters. Norway shares the concerns about the destabilising effect of fighters leaving Libya – both on Libya itself, and on neighbouring countries who face increasing instability and human suffering. The recent FACT-attack in Chad clearly illustrates the risks.

We reiterate our condolences for the death of late President Déby – and renew our pledge to support sustainable solutions.

Regarding Libya:

We support the Libyan ceasefire agreement from October 2020, and again urge its full implementation.

Norway echoes the demands of the agreement - and the Libyan Government of National Unity - that all foreign fighters must leave Libya immediately,
and surrender all weapons before leaving Libya.

A substantial security sector reform, as well as the reconciliation and unification of armed groups into one national armed force, is crucial. This must be supported by the UN.

We welcome the establishment of a High National Reconciliation Commission to address human rights violations and abuses and promote transitional justice and national reconciliation.

These processes must be Libyan led and owned. And it is our responsibility as Council members to support the transition.

Regarding the Sahel:

We are encouraged by Libyan signals of cooperation with neighbouring countries on the DDR processes. The urgent need for dialogue and coordination mechanisms with Sahel countries cannot be overstated.

Norway commends the work of UNSMIL, the UN, and the African Union in facilitating cooperation through capacity building and exchange of “lessons learned”.

One “lesson learnt” in DDR is the importance of including gender perspectives in all levels of design, monitoring, and coordination. It is vital to include women, and promote gender equality in de-radicalisation and re-integration programming.

President,

I will conclude my remarks with a few questions to the briefers:

Few, if any, countries affected by the departure of foreign fighters from Libya have national ongoing DDR processes, and armed groups based in Libya are hardly ever included in existing DDR processes. This presents a significant gap in a comprehensive solution to the issue of returning foreign fighters. How can the UN and the AU support transnational DDR processes, especially for groups not included in national DDR processes?

How can the Council support the role of regional organizations, particularly the African Union, in assisting national DDR processes?

We recognise the overlaps and interlinkages between DDR, PVE and Community Violence Reduction programming- and urge especially for taking a rights-based approach, and doing so in consultation with civil society groups.

How can the UN facilitate coordination between diverse actors in the Sahel engaged in programming to include returning fighters from Libya?

Which experiences from the implementation of the AU’s operational guidelines on national and regional DDR initiatives would in your view be particularly useful in the Libyan context?

Are there any indications that returning fighters from Libya are being co-opted into already existing jihadist groups in the Sahel and thus strengthen these groups’ fighting capacities and influence?