Statement by Ambassador Matthew Rycroft of the UK Mission to the UN following adoption of Security Council resolution taking action against the illegal flow of weapons into Libya
Thank you Mr President.
At the outset I’d like to offer my sincerest condolences to you, David, following the horrific attack in Orlando on Saturday. This was a hateful act of terror against the LGBT community and you have the fullest support of the United Kingdom, and I hope of this whole Council, as you come to terms with this unspeakable tragedy.
Sadly, it is clearer than ever that we are all threatened by terrorism and those who follow terrorist ideologies. It is absolutely imperative that we fight these threats together; that we fight them as a united Council. So I warmly welcome the unanimous adoption of this resolution today.
As the penholder on this issue, the United Kingdom has made it a priority to take meaningful action against the illegal flow of weapons to Libya. We do so as a sign of our support for the Libyan Government of National Accord. They are making progress; taking control of the machinery of government in Tripoli and beginning to assert their authority.
But it is clear that such progress still faces challenges. The existing arms embargo has not fully stopped the flow of weapons. Illicit weapons are undermining the peace and security of the region. They are enabling terrorists to murder, to maim, to bring yet more chaos to the people of Libya and the region; people who have suffered for too long.
So this resolution authorises all Member States, and regional organizations, to take specific, and measured steps in response. It enables us to interdict vessels on the high seas off Libya when we believe that there are arms, going to or from Libya, on board. It enables us to inspect, seize and dispose of weapons and to divert vessels to a suitable port to facilitate that disposal.
In adopting this resolution today, let us remember that we have taken but one step. It is sensible, proportionate and necessary. The Libyans need our support and I want to pay tribute to the courage of the Libyan forces fighting and increasingly defeating Daesh in Benghazi, in Sirte, and elsewhere.
But Libya faces a twin threat. Just as Daesh continues to exploit Libyan territory, criminal gangs continue to exploit the fear of people seeking a safer future. The waters of the Mediterranean are now synonymous with suffering. So many people feel they have no choice but to flee, to risk all they have, so that they might escape to safety.
So in adopting this resolution today, let us also reassert our support to the EU’s mission Operation Sophia and all that they are doing to address the migrant crisis. We fully support their efforts to build the capacity of the Libyan Coast Guard and as the British Prime Minister made clear at the G7 summit, we stand ready to provide an additional ship to increase interdiction efforts further.
Let me close Mr President by thanking all the members of the Council for their support for this resolution today, including our European colleagues from Spain and France. Together we have taken an important step forward, one that will help secure the coast of Libya, that will limit Daesh’s freedom of movement and that will ultimately help tackle the migration crisis.