Powers renew pledge to uphold Libya arms embargo

Germany, UN host ministers and top officials in bid to cut off external military support to Libya’s warring sides.

Munich Security Conference
Members of the international committee gather for a follow-up meeting on Libya [Michael Dalder/Reuters]

Violations of an arms embargo in Libya have become a joke and those who breach it must be held to account, a senior UN official has said.

Foreign ministers and other top officials from about a dozen countries gathered on Sunday in Munich to discuss the conflict in Libya and reaffirmed a commitment to respect a much-violated arms embargo and back a full ceasefire.

“The arms embargo has become a joke, we all really need to step up here,” UN Deputy Special Representative to Libya Stephanie Williams said.

“It’s complicated because there are violations by land, sea and air, but it needs to be monitored and there needs to be accountability.”

Germany and the UN hosted the meeting in a bid to maintain pressure to cut off external military support for the warring parties in Libya.


“It has been obvious in the last weeks there have been many not insignificant breaches of the weapons embargo,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said at the press conference after the meeting.

There have been decidedly differing explanations offered up from Libya as to what the reasons for this are but everybody agrees that the path we have taken, which is to separate the conflicting parties from their supporters is still the only path to a possible successful outcome in ending the civil war in Libya.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said a previous agreement reached in Berlin last month has been repeatedly violated by continuing arms deliveries and escalating fighting.

Libya has been in turmoil since 2011, when a civil war toppled longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was later killed.

There are two competing administrations in the country: the UN-recognised, Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), and a separate administration based in the eastern city of Tobruk, which supports the rebel military commander Khalifa Haftar.

The UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) is supported by Turkey, which recently sent thousands of soldiers to Libya.

Haftar, whose forces launched an offensive to capture the Libyan capital of Tripoli last April, is backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

Reporting from Munich, Al Jazeera’s James Bays said Sunday’s talks were similar to those that took place in January, noting that some countries have continued to supply arms in high numbers to both sides.

“If you don’t succeed, try again, that is what is happening at the conference in Munich. The foreign ministers hope to try and get the international plan back on track to stop all the weapons flowing to Libya, to get to the two sides to hold a ceasefire, then to get all the Libyan parties to talk and eventually have a UN-brokered election in Libya,” he said.


Reporting from Tripoli, Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed said sporadic fighting has continued over the past two weeks.

“In Libya, the two major issues of the arms embargo and the ceasefire on the ground have not been implemented,” he said.

In April, Haftar launched a campaign to seize Tripoli from the GNA, dramatically escalating the crisis. 

Since the Berlin summit, the rival Libyan military factions have met in Geneva in a UN-led effort to forge a lasting truce.

A first round faltered when officials concluded negotiations without signing an agreement, though another round of talks is expected next week.

On Wednesday, the UN Security Council endorsed a 55-point road map for ending the war in Libya and condemned the recent increase in violence in the oil-rich North African country. 

The European Union, whose foreign ministers are set to discuss Libya on Monday, is considering whether and how to have naval ships enforce the UN arms embargo against Libya.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies