The National Oil Corporation (NOC) chairman Mustafa Sanalla has emphasised the importance of the rule of law in Libya as the solution to the protracted conflict during his keynote speech at Chatham House on Monday January 27, 2020.
“The international community has to understand that if it rewards, or even tolerates, those who break the law in Libya, then it will be complicit in the end of the rule of law in our country. And that means more corruption, more crime, more injustice and more poverty,” he said.
Mr Sanalla spoke about the recent port blockades and the devastating long-term effects they would have on the Libyan economy and the lives of normal Libyans:
“We fully acknowledge there is corruption and injustice in Libya. We are all disgusted and angered by the economic situation. But acting illegally by blocking Libyan oil production will just lead to the further impoverishment of the Libyan state and erosion of the rule of law. We were told that NOC will not receive the requested budget it needs for its ambitious programme to expand oil production – that means billions less for the Libyan people in future years.”
Oil revenues are the backbone of the Libyan economy. They pay salaries for 1.3 million Libyans, support education, health and other crucial services.
The Chairman warned the international community about the precedent of allowing illegal activities:
“How will the international community react to the shutdown of oil? For me it is crucial that illegal behaviour such as this is not rewarded. That is why I publicly denounced the attempts by former UNSMIL Head Kobler to negotiate with Jadhran. That is why I have always opposed giving concessions to blockaders by anyone. Reward such bad behaviour and you will see it repeated, not just in Libya but potentially across the whole of the Middle East and North Africa, as people who feel they have a grievance decide it’s worth trying an oil blockade.”
I believe that member countries of the UNSC on the whole want peace, freedom and economic justice in Libya. But wanting it is not enough. It seems that they are happy when they secure agreement from a wide range of countries to international statements calling for ceasefires and political settlements. But they know that many of those countries will sign anything, and then continue to supply weaponry to the war-fighters, and to pour poison into social media with their sophisticated disinformation campaigns, undermining the very solutions they have officially supported. We need not just words but action from UNSC members, particularly UK, US and France, who all pride themselves on their support for the rule of law. We need them to call out the hypocrisy of those countries (or those within their own governments) who prefer instead to pursue their own national interests at the expense of the Libyan people.
Mr. Sanalla also explained the technical and environmental effects of the blockades: “Sudden stoppages of oil production are a disaster – crude oil left in pipelines is highly corrosion in the already corroded pipeline and surface equipment. And the effects last for years – in the last five years we had 817 leaks in pipelines damaged by the years of blockades instigated by Ibrahim Jadhran.
“There is a rule of law solution to problems in Libya. It is the only solution. But it seems the countries that have traditionally been the strongest backers of the rule of law need to find their voice and common purpose. This is not about choosing one side or the other in Libya. There are too many sides, too many interests. The Libya conflict is about right and wrong.”, he concluded.
(Source: National Oil Corporation)