UN slaps arms embargo on Libya


The United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously to impose an arms embargo on Libya and has frozen the assets of its leaders, while referring the ongoing violent repression of civilian demonstrators to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The vote was supported by South Africa and the other two African nations currently serving on the Council, Gabon and Nigeria.

South Africa’s ambassador to the UN told the world body Pretoria was “very gravely concerned about the situation in Libya” and would “work with the Council to ensure that everything is done to make the authorities in Libya stop their maiming and killing of the Libyan people. Everything must be done to heed the will of the Libyan people.” He added that with its vote South Africa was sending “a clear and unambiguous message to the Libyan authorities to end the carnage against its people.”

The UN News Service reports that in its Resolution 1970, the Council obligates all United Nations member states to “freeze without delay all funds, other financial assets and economic resources which are on their territories, which are owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the individuals or entities” listed in resolution.

The Council imposed a travel ban on leader Muammar Gadhafi and other senior figures in his administration, including some members of his family and other relatives. The Associated Press notes this includes four of his sons and a daughter. The council also backed a travel ban on the Gadhafi family and close associates, including leaders of the revolutionary committees accused of much of the violence against regime opponents.

The UNSC resolution adds that all “Member States shall immediately take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, from or through their territories or by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and related material of all types, including weapons and ammunition.” The arms embargo also prohibits Libya from exporting all arms and related materiel, and obligates UN member states to prevent the procurement of such items from Libya by their nationals.

The Council directed the Libyan authorities to cooperate fully with the ICC in its investigations of the situation in Libya since 15 February 2011, while recognising that the country is not party to the Rome Statute that created the Court,” the UN News Service adds. In their resolution, members of the Council said that they considered that the “widespread and systematic attacks currently taking place in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity.” The ICC’s Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo was instructed to report back to the council in two months on his investigation.

The Council demanded an immediate end to the violence and called for steps to fulfil “the legitimate demands of the population.” It called upon the Libyan authorities to ensure the safety of all foreign nationals and their assets, and to facilitate the departure of those wishing to leave the country. It also called for safe passage of humanitarian and medical supplies, and humanitarian agencies and workers, into Libya, and demanded the immediately lifting of restrictions on the media.

In remarks to the Security Council soon after the resolution was adopted, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the move, saying that while the measure cannot, by itself, end the violence and the repression, it is a clear expression of the will of a united community of nations. “The actions taken by the regime in Libya are clear cut violations of all norms governing international behaviour and serious transgressions of international human rights and humanitarian law,” said Ban.
“It is of great importance that the Council in response has reached the consensus and is determined to uphold its responsibilities for the maintenance of international peace and security,” he said.

He reiterated that peace and stability are at stake across the Arab world, adding that the world’s collective challenge is to provide real protection and halt the ongoing violence. “The text sends a strong message that gross violations of basic human rights will not be tolerated, and that those responsible for grave crimes will be held accountable. I hope the message is heard, and heeded, by the regime in Libya. I hope it will also bring hope and relief to those still at risk. The sanctions you have imposed are a necessary step to speed the transition to a new system of governance that will have the consent and participation of the people.”

Ban said he will continue to monitor the situation closely and remain in close touch with world and regional leaders to ensure their support for swift and concrete international action. “I would like to take this opportunity to express my solidarity with the people of Libya as they brave the bloodshed and as they cope with possible shortages of food and medical supplies and other humanitarian impacts. “As the Libyan people take their destiny into their hands, as is their right, I hope that the new future for which they yearn, peaceful, prosperous and democratic, will soon be theirs,” Ban added.

Reuters reports European Union governments will sign off on sanctions against Gadhafi and his government today, including its own arms embargo and bans on travel to the bloc.