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Published on March 1, 2011
Libya – Remarks to the press by Gérard Araud, France’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations¹

New York, February 25 , 2011

M. ARAUD – The continuing brutal and bloody repression against the civilian population is appalling in Libya. As noted by the President of the French Republic, we follow these events with horror and compassion. Such use of force against its own people is shameful. The international community cannot remain a spectator faced with these massive violations of Human Rights.

The Human Rights Council has just passed a resolution on the situation in Libya. It calls for the cessation of violence, decides on an independent investigation, mentions crimes against humanity, and requested the suspension of Libya.

It must now go further and the UN General Assembly must vote the effective suspension of Libya. So we call on the President of the General Assembly to convene as soon as possible a session of the General Assembly to confirm the suspension.

The seriousness of the situation in Libya requires a strong response from the international community.

We have prepared with our British, German and US partners a draft resolution. It has been circulated among the members of the Security Council. We have had the first consultations right now on this text and I can say, quoting the Russian Ambassador, that we have seen there is a large community of views among the members of the Security Council.
We want a robust text under Chapter VII, which sends a clear message to the Libyan authorities. So as you have been told tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. our experts will meet to examine the text. At 11 a.m. we will have a session of the Security Council at the level of the Permanent Representatives and our hope is to have the resolution voted as soon as possible and, if possible, tomorrow afternoon.

What happened with the Libyan Permanent Representative was an historical moment, not only for what Ambassador Shalgham has said but the way all the Arab Ambassadors, all the African Ambassadors have rushed to congratulate him, to hug him. I think it was a very momentous time. Very often we are told that it is the West which is pressing for Human Rights, that the West is pressing for interference in internal affairs and that Libya is an internal affair. No. What we have seen here is that there is an international community. The world is changing and I think it is changing for the better. And I guess the Security Council has to be at this rendezvous with history.

Q. – How important is it to France to have a referral to the ICC, including in the resolution, can you imagine dropping that?

M. ARAUD – I said while I was entering the room that it is a sensitive topic because you have countries which are not members to the Rome Statute. The media would not understand if there was no reference to the ICC. Horrendous crimes are committed in Libya. My country is very keen on getting a reference to the ICC. We can find different wordings to accommodate the legitimate concerns of other members. But we will insist on having this reference and I have said it to the Council very clearly.

Q. – Is there broad agreement on sanctions in there?

M. ARAUD – Yes. I was quoting Ambassador Churkin. He said we don’t need to have a debate because there is such a community of views.
As for sanctions, there is absolutely no problem, everybody will agree on it. I can bet there is no problem on arms embargo. And there will be, I think, questions about the ICC, but I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t get a resolution tomorrow.

Q. – Can you tell us why the draft resolution doesn’t include any reference to a no-fly zone which has certainly been suggested and demanded by quite a number of people?

M. ARAUD – The problem is, in a sense, this organization and the Member States have some memories. We have tried to have no-fly zones in Bosnia for instance in the 1990s. It’s a very difficult operation to manage. It’s a war operation. You need to have planes to do that, you need bases. It’s a war operation. So there was no, I guess, among the 15 members, no country has proposed a no-fly zone. Again, it would be very difficult to implement.

Q. – Do you think the terms of this resolution could make possible any kind of military operation in case… That’s not an option at this point?

M. ARAUD – No, no. A military operation is not an option at this stage, very clearly.

Q. – Does it help the Libyan people to suspend Libya membership in the Council? That doesn’t help the Libyan people. That should focus on Gaddafi and Gaddafi’s family.

M. ARAUD – As for the sanctions, it will be sanctions on targeted assets, and visa bans, all these usual sanctions. We have already a list of people who will be targeted by these sanctions. And of course, at the top of the list, there is the Gaddafi family. But you don’t have only the Gaddafi family, you have the main members of the leadership.

Q. – How many people are on the list?

M. ARAUD – I think it’s something like 20, but maybe I’m wrong. I’m not sure, that’s from my memory.

As you know – and President Sarkozy has said this – our reaction to the tragic events taking place in Libya can be only one of utter outrage. This isn’t the place, it’s no longer the time to be talking about interference in domestic affairs. It’s a humanitarian issue. It’s one which concerns the whole international community.

I might add that Ambassador Shalgham’s speech was an extremely moving, extremely powerful moment, since the Libyan Ambassador was calling for sanctions against his own country and he got cheers from the Arab and African ambassadors. It’s a historic moment which proves that defending human rights and humanitarian access is an issue not for the West but for the whole international community.

In this context, the Security Council must be equal to the task. The Security Council must send a strong message, a resolution, a sanctions resolution which should include three main parts: sanctions against individuals, an arms embargo and – this is the most difficult – an appeal to the ICC.

To quote the Russian Ambassador, what’s very striking among the 15 Security Council members is their common position. There are slight differences, but the 15 want sanctions, they want a weapons embargo and they want to move very fast. And so we’re having a meeting tomorrow at 11 a.m. and nothing should stop us getting a resolution tomorrow evening.

Q. – And the ICC?

M. ARAUD – On the ICC, there will be negotiation; we must have faith in the imaginative approach of diplomats. It’s never “yes” or “no”; we can find ways of wording things, I hope. At any rate, from France’s point of view, and I’m not alone – my German colleague, my British colleague in particular, and my Colombian colleague greatly emphasized the importance of a referral to the ICC. This will be part of the negotiation./.

¹ M. Araud spoke in English and French.

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