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The UN is Failing Libya

The UN is Failing Libya

Al-Etihad, UAE, August 22

The mission to end the Libyan crisis does not require the appointment of a new UN envoy to Libya, who will be the seventh to assume this title since 2011. Things will not change overnight simply because a new liaison is appointed. Indeed, it is highly unlikely, if not outright impossible, that a new envoy would succeed in doing what six others before him failed to do. Following the resignation of the most recent envoy, Ghassan Salame, from the post in early March, the position of UN Libya envoy has remained vacant. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council could not agree on the identity of Salame’s successor, especially since the United States demanded to split the role into two separate portfolios. Unfortunately, UN Secretary-General António Guterres thinks that envoys can just be deployed without any institutional support. However, no UN envoy can achieve progress in conflict resolution without adequate support from the United Nations Secretariat. Such support cannot be provided without the clear vision of the secretary-general. In the absence of such a vision, it is impossible to develop a plan on the basis of which, and in the light of which, the envoy can act. In most cases the existence of such a vision requires courage. The secretary-general and his assistants in the UN Secretariat must confront countries about their role in prolonging a given conflict and demand action on their behalf. It is no secret that there are several major countries that are directly involved in the Libyan war. Despite this, the UN General Secretariat turns a blind eye to this behavior. Instead of leveraging its power to promote a peace deal in the country, the UN is allowing an illegal regime to continue ruling Libya with the help and support of foreign mercenaries who have been imported to the country from afar. The Secretariat of the United Nations is a body with extensive power and substantial leverage over member states. However, the ability to exercise this power depends on the secretary-general and his readiness to take bold actions. Dag Hammarskjöld (1953-1961) and Boutros Boutros-Ghali (1992-1996) were two secretaries-general who weren’t afraid to make a difference. The current one, Guterres, is quickly running out of time to live up to their legacy. – Wahid Abdul Majeed (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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