This blog post was published under the 2015 to 2024 Conservative government

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Nicholas Hopton

Head of UK Embassy to Libya

30th August 2021 Tripoli, Libya

Farewell Libya

I finish my mission as UK Ambassador to Libya at the end of this month. So, this is my last blog in the role. My excellent successor, Caroline Hurndall, will take up post in September, leading our talented teams in Tripoli, Benghazi and Tunis. The Embassy will continue to represent the UK and promote its interests, supporting Libyan and international efforts to make a better future for the Libyan people.

Looking back over the last two years, in some respects much has changed. In 2019, Libya was stuck in a nasty civil war. After hostilities froze in June last year and the October 2020 ceasefire agreement made it possible to imagine a different future for Libya, the country has continued to move forward through a political process with the support of UNSMIL and the international community. However, big challenges persist and much remains to be done.

In my final weeks, working closely with international partners – particularly UNSG Special Envoy Ján Kubiš – I have tried to intensify British efforts to encourage and support those Libyans with influence to do the right thing for their country and people. That means strengthening stability and unifying the country. The next step towards that should be free and fair elections, as set out in the Libyan roadmap and underpinned by the UN Security Council Resolution 2570. Let me share with you some of those recent and important exchanges.

Prime Minister Dabaiba and his ministers have stressed to me that the Government of National Unity (GNU) are committed to elections and have the relevant security preparations in place. I have underlined that credible elections will require strong support and necessary funding for the High National Electoral Commission (HNEC).

When I spoke to House of Representatives (HoR) Speaker Agileh Saleh, I stressed the need for parliament to reach consensus soon on a legal basis for free and fair elections. This will enable progress, and demonstrate to Libyans that their elected representatives are working for them.

When I met with Foreign Minister Mangoush, we reflected on the strong state of the Libya-UK bilateral relationship. Building on the strong shared historical, commercial and other ties between our peoples, the UK stands ready to support efforts to help Libya fully regain its sovereignty. This will require the withdrawal of foreign fighters and forces. That would help create the right conditions across the country for elections to take place.

Security for elections will be critical. I have been reassured by both Prime Minister Dabaiba and Interior Minister Mazen that the various Libyan agencies would coordinate effectively in order to provide the security needed for elections to go ahead across the country.

And other politicians who intend to take part in the elections have reassured me of their commitment to seeing elections take place in a way that allows the outcome to reflect the will of the Libyan people.

Through all of this, it will be important to ensure Libya’s economic development continues, and safeguards the prosperous future which Libyans deserve, after so many years of turmoil. With the Chairmen of the Libyan Investment Authority and the Central Bank, I stressed the need for greater transparency, and the unity of Libya’s institutions.

At the National Oil Corporation, it was encouraging to hear how the technical work to keep Libya’s oil flowing continues, and also to stress the importance of alternatives to hydrocarbons in the face of climate change. Recent Libyan commitments to ratifying the Paris Climate Agreement are important, and I look forward to Libya playing a constructive role at COP 26, which will be hosted by the UK Prime Minister in November.

My wider engagement in Libya has not been limited to those in official positions. I have been continually inspired by those seeking to drive change in Libya from within civil society, often in challenging circumstances. The UK continues to provide support to a range of organisations, including those led by and promoting the interests of women and young people. They need to be able to make their voices heard, which should make a positive difference to Libyan lives.

What next?

Much remains to be done. Elections should be the stepping-stone towards a more stable Libya. Results must be respected, and measures should be taken against those who would seek to derail the peace process. The international community, under UN leadership, must come together to help Libya regain its full sovereignty. The present Libyan leaders – and in due course a newly elected government – have a responsibility to provide public services for all Libyans, to uphold the rule of law, and to lead reconciliation efforts, to allow a confident, united Libya to face the future on its own two feet.

The UK Government and our international partners will continue to watch developments closely and, where possible, provide support to Libyans so that the people of this huge, complex and wonderful ancient country can enjoy the future it deserves.

I wish the best to all Libyans in that challenging but achievable endeavour. I also thank them for the memorable and extraordinary time I have spent in their uniquely special country.

2 comments on “Farewell Libya

  1. Well done, Nick. I’m sure you’ve made an invaluable contribution to a terribly troubled country. Thanks.

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About Nicholas Hopton

Nicholas Hopton is former UK Ambassador to Iran, Qatar and Yemen. Nicholas is a career diplomat who joined the FCO in 1989 having studied at St Peter’s School, York, and…

Nicholas Hopton is former UK Ambassador to Iran, Qatar and Yemen.

Nicholas is a career diplomat who joined the FCO in 1989 having
studied at St Peter’s School, York, and Cambridge University (Magdalene
College).  He has also studied at La Sapienza University in Rome and ENA in Paris.
With the FCO he has also served overseas in Paris, Rome, Morocco and Mauritania.
He is married with five children.