Key to a resolution of the conflict: Libya Conference in Berlin

Libya Conference in Berlin

Libya Conference in Berlin, © Guido Bergmann/Bundesregierung/dpa

20.01.2020 - Article

Heads of State and Government as well as representatives of international organisations agreed in Berlin to work together to exert influence on the parties to the Libyan conflict. We provide answers to the most important questions.

What was the conference about?

The German Government is supporting the work of UN Special Representative Ghassan Salamé through the Berlin Process. In line with his plans for a political process leading to peace, the first step is to be an end to external interference and military support. The aim is to persuade the parties to the conflict to end the hostilities and enter into a peace process under the auspices of the UN. To this end, the German Government has hosted a total of six expert-level meetings at senior official level in Berlin since September. The results of these meetings were integrated into the conference conclusions in Berlin.

Who was there?

At the invitation of Chancellor Merkel, Heads of State and Government as well as Foreign Ministers from a total of eleven countries took part: in addition to the permanent Security Council members China, France, Russia, the UK and the United States, regional actors such as Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey also attended. Italy, which plays a leading role vis-à-vis Libya within the EU, was also represented. Algeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo participated as regional mediators. The European Union, the Arab League and the African Union were represented by their High Representatives. UN Secretary-General Guterres and his Special Representative to Libya, Ghassan Salamé, chaired the meeting together with Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Maas.

What was decided?

Following intensive negotiations, the participants adopted a 55-point paper in which they expressly committed to refrain from interfering in the armed conflict and to support the work of the UN Special Representative. Other key elements and basic conditions for a political process are:

  • Support for the work of the UN Special Representative for the return to an intra-Libyan political process
  • A call to the parties to the conflict to transform the current temporary ceasefire into a permanent one and to disarm the various militia groups
  • An undertaking by the participating states that they will respect the existing UN arms embargo and step up its implementation
  • Support for reforms in the economic and financial sectors in Libya
  • Respect for international humanitarian law and human rights

Furthermore, the participants were able to convince both parties to the conflict to appoint representatives for a ceasefire dialogue organised by the UN. The committee will now come together in Geneva under the leadership of the UN Special Representative and transform the current temporary ceasefire into a permanent one.

After the meeting, Foreign Minister Maas stressed that what mattered now was to implement what had been agreed:

We have found the key which can help us resolve the conflict in Libya.“ ”We now have to put it in the lock and turn it.“ ”This is the start to what we regard as a political solution in Libya.

What happens next?

An International Follow-Up Committee will monitor the implementation of the decisions adopted. The committee is open not only to the participating states and organisations but also to other interested countries. It will consist of a plenary session of representatives at senior official level as well as technical working groups at expert level on various issues contained in the conference conclusions. Foreign Minister Maas announced after the conference that the committee was to start work in Berlin in early February within the framework of a foreign ministers’ conference.

Today (20 January), Foreign Minister Maas and EU High Representative Josep Borrell briefed EU Foreign Ministers on the outcome of the conference at the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels. Foreign Minister Maas emphasised in Brussels that the involvement of the entire EU was important:

Today we will look at how the EU can support the process.

This week, the UN Security Council will consider the conclusions of the Berlin Libya Conference, in particular the arms embargo. This has been initiated by a Security Council resolution and its compliance will be overseen by a Security Council committee which Germany has chaired since 2019.


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