Libya: Too many migrants continue to risk their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean [fr]
Libya / Renewal of EUNAVFOR MED Sophia
Explanation of vote by Mr. Antoine Michon, Political coordinator at the French Permanent Mission to the United Nations
Security Council - 3 October 2018
France welcomes the unanimous renewal, for a period of 12 months, of the authorization on which the action of the European Union military operation in the Southern Central Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA) is based in order to fight against the smuggling of migrants and human trafficking on the high seas off the coast of Libya. The unanimous support of the Security Council for the European Union’s commitment to peace and stability in Libya is a recognition of the key role played by the EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA in disrupting the smuggling networks and in saving tens of thousands of lives every year, as the most recent report of the Secretary-General (S/2018/807) recalls. The authorization of the Council is a sine qua non, allowing the operation to have the appropriate means to effectively combat the smuggling of migrants, in cooperation with the Government of National Accord, led by Prime Minister Serraj.
The text comes to the point by renewing the authorizations under resolutions 2240 (2015) and 2380 (2017) through which the Security Council expresses its deep concern about the extent of migrant smuggling in the Mediterranean and the humanitarian, political and security consequences for Libya and beyond. However, it is regrettable that the text is not more explicit in recalling the Council’s positions on that serious issue, especially with regard to the applicable international legal framework, in particular the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
As the report of the Secretary-General points out, too many migrants — many of them women and children — continue to risk their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean. They are the victims of traffickers who exploit their distress. The human rights violations to which those vulnerable people are exposed shock the world’s conscience. Moreover, the migrant smuggling and human trafficking fuel economic predation and jeopardize the fragile political balance in Libya. That is why the Council adopted its first sanctions against six smugglers of migrants in June, at the initiative of France and its European and American partners.
Finally, France recalls, as stated in resolution 2240 (2015), that migrants should be treated with humanity and dignity and with full respect for their rights and that all States must fulfil their obligations under international law, including international human rights law and international refugee law. It also recalls the obligation to protect the human rights of migrants regardless of their migration status.