UN Council hits Qaddafi with sanctions over crackdown

By AFP
Published: February 27, 2011

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi before a dinner at the G8 summit in L'Aquila in this July 9, 2009 file photo. PHOTO: REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS: UN Security Council has imposed sanctions against Moamer Qaddafi in a new bid to halt the bloodshed in Libya while ordering a crimes against humanity investigation into his crackdown on opponents.

A vote by the 15-nation body at a solemn Saturday night meeting called for a travel ban and assets freeze against Qaddafi and his family and associates and an arms embargo against Libya, where the UN says more than 1,000 people have been killed.

The council united to condemn what it called violence incited “from the highest level” of Libyan leaders.

The travel ban and assets freeze in Resolution 1970 target the 68-year-old Libyan leader, four of his sons and daughter Aisha, and top defense and intelligence officials accused of playing a role in the bloodshed.

The 16 names on the sanctions list were cut from 22 during negotiations. Diplomats said this was a move to encourage senior regime members to turn against Qaddafi.

The bloodshed was referred to the International Criminal Court because the council said “the widespread and systematic attacks currently taking place (in Libya) against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity.”

Under the resolution all arms sales to Libya must stop immediately. The resolution also called on Libya to let in humanitarian supplies and to protect foreigners.

The measures were “a powerful signal of the determination of the international community to stand with the people of Libya and determine their own future,” said Britain’s UN ambassador Mark Lyall Grant who led the resolution campaign with France, Germany and the United States.

Reflecting the unanimous condemnation of Qaddafi, South Africa’s envoy Baso Sangqu said the whole world had been shocked by “the untold atrocities”.

US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said the council “has come together to condemn the violence, pursue accountability, and adopt biting sanctions, targeting Libya’s unrepentant leadership.”

The landmark vote saw the United States support referring a crisis case to the International Criminal Court for the first time.

The United States is not a member of the ICC and abstained when the Darfur conflict in Sudan was sent to the international court in 2005. China and Russia also backed the Libya resolution even though they also traditionally oppose sanctions action against individual countries.

Libya is the first of the Arab nations hit by political and social turmoil in recent weeks to be discussed at the Security Council.

Its deputy ambassador, Ibrahim Dabbashi, who has turned against the Qaddafi regime, said the resolution would give “moral support for the people who are resisting and being fired upon by the regime.”

Pressure on the council to act had increased by a warning from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday that a delay in taking “concrete action” would cost lives.

Libya’s UN ambassador, Abdurrahman Shalgam, the country’s former foreign minister, also made an impassioned plea for the council to take action against the “atrocities” committed by his childhood friend Qaddafi.

In negotiations, several countries raised reservations about referring Libya to the International Criminal Court.

But Shalgham wrote a letter to the council on Saturday expressing strong backing for the resolution and involving the ICC.

“Faced with the atrocities we are seeing, impunity is no longer an option,” French UN envoy Gerard Araud told the council.

Debate on the Libya crisis returns to the UN headquarters next Tuesday when the general assembly votes on a motion to suspend the nation from the UN Human Rights Council. The action requires a two thirds majority from the 191 member states and western nations are already lobbying for support.

Reader Comments (4)

  • Waqar
    Feb 27, 2011 - 6:52PM

    According to William Hague, the UK Foreign Secretary,

    The UK has withdrawn his diplomatic immunity on British soil…The order also applies to his family and household.

    “It is very clear where we stand on his status as the head of state,” he said.Recommend

  • Ahmad S.
    Feb 28, 2011 - 1:36PM

    After the sort of (war) crimes and violence Moammer Gaddafi has committed against the Libyian people, in order to show some allegiance and moral support to the people of Libya, Pakistan change the name of Qaddafi Stadium to something else. To begin with, it was after all a bad decision based on political expediences. Recommend

  • Abdullah
    Mar 1, 2011 - 11:14AM

    Is Muammar Qaddafi a draq queen?

    Lemme get this straight. Muammar Qaddafi wants to hold on to power, to do that he’s attacking his own population who’re revolting against him. The so called developed nations want Qaddafi to stop attacking his population and amicably step down from power and hand over the reigns to the people so that they can elect a leader, the democratic way, the american way.

    And therefore these developed nations along with the U.N decide to impose sanctions on Libya. Hmm, does that make any sense? On one hand, they want Qaddafi gone, on the other they impose sanctions on Libya. Qaddafi is not Libya. The people of Libya are Libya. Sanctions on Libya means weakening the economy and therefore the resistance. I am pretty certain the Libyan government has reserves and caches of essentials for a rainy day. The mass public on the other hand can’t afford such a luxury. So at the end of the day who’s going to suffer? The public. Who’s going to win? Qaddafi. So who do these sanctions actually hurt? The public.

    In essence, the sanctions are a tool to support Qaddafi and not the public. They’re standing behind their man all the while lining themselves up cunningly with the public sentiment and vote. Recommend

  • Tommy Wilson
    Mar 1, 2011 - 8:27PM

    Crimes against humanity? That’ll have to join the queue behind investigations into crimes against humanity in Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, Vietnam and a gazillion other places. Oh wait, those were American crimes, so no-one even looks at those.Recommend

More in World