The following has been prepared by Next Century Foundation Research Officers Mais Mayouf and Ivan Tarkhanov for submission by the Next Century Foundation as a statement to the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council:
The Next Century Foundation notes with concern the build-up of forces around the town of Sirte in the State of Libya. The near total violation of the UN arms embargo continues, as does the proliferation of foreign forces on the ground, many of whom are mercenaries.
Increasing levels of foreign involvement in Libya have helped a civil war become a proxy war. As things stand, the blatant breaching of the UN arms embargo sustains the proliferation of weapons in Libya.
The Next Century Foundation notes shortcomings with the way the arms embargo is currently enforced. It is important to emphasise that most weapons do not arrive in Libya by sea but rather by land and air.
Only a swift return to negotiations can avoid a bloodbath around the town of Sirte. The Next Century Foundation calls on both principal parties to halt the military buildup and return to talks. Any comprehensive political arrangement should also be approved by the Council of Representatives seated in Tobruk. It is vital that the unity and sovereignty of Libya remain the ultimate goal of any peace talks.
The need for a national, Libyan owned, political dialogue is paramount.
Peace building initiatives must harness local energy and include civil society actors to ensure a stable and socially grounded framework for a lasting peace. The Next Century Foundation believes that Libyan civil society actors have been grossly underrepresented in previous peace initiatives and in a failed state like Libya they are important.
Stop thinking of the Libyan conflict as a mere domestic issue. The conflict has caused great suffering in Libya but it has also proliferated instability throughout the Sahel and in the Mediterranean as a whole. Further escalation of the Libyan conflict will send ripples far beyond Libya’s borders.