Libya: all parties to the conflict must abide by international law and ensure civilian protection

Today, the ICJ called on the parties to the conflict in Libya to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law to protect affected people, particularly the civilian population.

The ICJ also called on the UN Security Council to urge the parties to respect international law.

The gravity of hostilities led UNSMIL to postpone the UN-sponsored Libyan National Conference aimed at finding a solution to the ongoing political deadlock late yesterday. The Conference was planned to commence on 14 April in Ghadames.

“The postponement of the political dialogue is a major setback for peace and the rule of law in Libya, and for the Libyan population,” said Kate Vigneswaran, the ICJ’s Senior Legal Advisor for the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“Civilians taking no part in the fighting have already suffered the brunt of hostilities between the warring parties in Libya. Those who remain, including the thousands of migrants held in arbitrary detention, are at grave risk,” she added.

IHL requires parties to the conflict to respect the principles of distinction and proportionality and take precautionary measures to avoid, or in any event minimize, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects.

“The parties must ensure that not only civilians but civilian objects are protected, and that measures are taken to ensure they don’t become collateral casualties,” said Kate Vigneswaran.

“International actors should continue to push for a political solution to the situation in Libya based on the rule of law and incorporating human rights protections to avoid further suffering,” she added.

On April 7, the UN Security Council reportedly discussed the situation in Libya but could not find the necessary consensus to issue an official statement.

According to the AFP, the Russian Federation blocked a statement that would have called on Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, head of the House of Representatives backed Libyan National Army, to stop military operations, on all the parties to de-escalate and for “those who undermine Libya’s peace and security to be held to account.”

“The Security Council should adopt a resolution calling for the protection of civilians and accountability for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Member States should desist from exercising their veto powers to block resolutions intended to ensure compliance with international law,” said Vigneswaran.

Reportedly, at least 27 people have been killed, including two doctors and two other civilians, 80 have been injured, and more than 2,800 persons have been displaced as a result of the fighting. The only functioning airport in Tripoli (above photo), the hub of the fighting, was closed Monday after being hit by an airstrike by the Libyan National Army (LNA).

Read this article in Arabic


Kate Vigneswaran, ICJ Senior Legal Adviser, t: +31624894664, e: kate.vigneswaran(a)