An arms embargo aimed at curbing fighting in Libya is meaningless because of violations and it is imperative those who breach it are held to account, a senior UN official said.
“The arms embargo has become a joke, we really need to step up here,” UN Deputy Special Representative to Libya Stephanie Williams said after a meeting of foreign ministers to follow up on a Berlin summit last month that agreed to uphold the embargo. Fighting continues despite a call for a truce.
“It’s complicated because there are violations by land, sea and air, but it needs to be monitored and there needs to be accountability,” Williams told a news conference, adding Libya was now awash with advanced weapons.
Countries backing rival factions in Libya repeatedly violated an arms embargo, according to the UN, which previously named the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Turkey as breaching the embargo. After the Berlin conference violations increased and the UN denounced them without naming countries.
The Libyan National Army led by eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar and forces aligned with the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli have been fighting since April last year for control of the capital.
The UAE and Egypt support Haftar while the GNA is backed by Turkey.
A joint statement by 13 countries involved in Libya, including Egypt, UAE and Turkey, said there had been discussion on the “deplorable” arms embargo violations and “renewed determination to contribute to its thorough implementation.”
There was no mention of how the embargo would be monitored, enforced or whether there would be any consequences for violating it.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas wanted EU foreign ministers to make a decision on their role in monitoring the embargo.
“Everyone needs to know if they violate the embargo in future then they violate a UN resolution and this can’t remain without consequences,” Maas said.
“The situation on the ground remains troubling. The truce is holding only by a thread, the economic situation continues to deteriorate,” Williams said.