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Libya/adoption of UNSCR 1970

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

New York, February 26, 2011

M. ARAUD – Ladies and gentlemen,

A wind of liberty and change is blowing through the Arab world and the Security Council has succeeded in responding to this new era of international relations.

In this resolution you have new steps for the international community.
First, responsibility to protect: in this very strong text we have recognized it, under chapter VII. You know what it means: if a government is not able to protect its own population, it means the international community has the right and the duty to step in.

The second important step is, of course, international justice. It is obvious that this referral is going well beyond Libya. It is a warning to all the leaders who could be tempted to use repression against this wind of change, this wind of liberty. We feel it, we felt it in the Security Council chamber, we feel it in the corridors of this organization. There is an earthquake going on, and it has reached New York. I don’t know if there will be a tomorrow. I do hope there will be a tomorrow. I do hope that responsibility to protect, international justice and sanctions against dictators will have a follow-up and that dictators will listen to what is happening even in the usually prudent Security Council.

Q. – What influence has the letter from the Libyan [UN] mission, asking for the matter to be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC), had?

M. ARAUD – The very fact that Libya’s Permanent Representative appealed to the Security Council and the ICC, in the most moving terms, obviously had an influence in the debates, particularly on our African friends.

Q. – Article 6 excludes the citizens of non-Rome Statute members even for crimes committed by mercenaries; do you agree with that?

M. ARAUD – It was for one country. It was absolutely necessary for one country to have that, considering its parliamentary constraints. It was a red line for the United States, it was a deal breaker. This is the reason why we accepted this unanimously.

Q. – We noticed in the resolution that you asked for the help of the Arab league and the African Union to facilitate the work of the Prosecutor. It gives him two months for his staff to investigate; for sure they will not be allowed access to Libya any time soon… How can they get the job done? Do you expect a report?

M. ARAUD – Again, I am not an investigation specialist, but on all the TVs, on the Arab TVs, on the European TVs at least and the American TVs you see thousands of refugees fleeing from Libya and describing what they have seen, the atrocities.

Q. – Six Council members aren’t members of the ICC; they nonetheless voted on this resolution. What significance do you see in this?

M. ARAUD – I see it as a clear justification; it’s an acknowledgement of international justice, an acknowledgement that the ICC is justified, since even the countries which aren’t part of it are appealing to it. It’s a wonderful tribute to international justice, and for France and the United Kingdom – we’re the only two Permanent Members who are party to the ICC – it’s a great victory for the cause we’re defending.

Q. – In the resolution there’s a reference to Article 16 of the Rome Statute. What’s the point of it?

M. ARAUD – Nothing: this reference already appeared in UNSCR 1593 on Darfur. It’s a way, for the States which aren’t party to the ICC, of recalling what already appears in the Rome Statute, i.e. that the Security Council potentially has the right to intervene in the proceedings if it sees fit for political reasons. It’s only repeating what everyone knows.

Q. – If the killings start again, by this government, what additional measures can be taken immediately by the Security Council to stop the killing?

M. ARAUD – We have to realize that we are breaking new ground. We are facing challenges that we have never faced. It think that so far the Security Council, with all its limitations, has reacted very strongly and has broken new ground. If tomorrow the situation worsens again, we will have to meet again and see what we can do. I have the impression that the 15 of us are determined to act and react as much as we can./.
¹ M. Araud spoke in English and French.

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