2 November 2011 - Security Council - Libya
Report of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court - Statement by Mr Martin Briens, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
I would first of all like to congratulate you, Sir, and to express our best wishes for the success of your presidency. I also wish to thank Ambassador Ogwu and her entire team for their effective presidency in the month of October. I would also like to thank Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo for his report and briefing today.
I should like to make three comments.
First, on resolution 1970 (2011), since mid-February of this year, in the face of the outrages committed by Libya’s leaders, the League of Arab States, the African Union and the Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation condemned the serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The Security Council itself, on 26 February, responded swiftly by unanimously adopting resolution 1970 (2011), which referred the situation in Libya to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). When a Government attacks its own citizens, rather than protecting them, and when the crimes committed are an affront to the conscience of humankind and affect the stability of an entire region, the international community has the responsibility to intervene to protect civilians. That is what we did in Libya with resolution 1970 (2011). The imperative of ensuring justice, underscored in the resolution, continues to be valid today. That is true in the case of Libya just as it is for all countries in which civilians’ aspiration to respect for their freedom and fundamental rights is met with repression on the part of authorities who ignore the calls of the international community. As the violence in Syria and Yemen continues, the Council must reiterate its message as to the primacy of law and the need to combat impunity in all cases, just as it did following the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire.
Secondly, with regard to the work of the International Criminal Court, following the adoption of resolution 1970 (2011), the Prosecutor mobilized his entire team and was able to complete his investigation in three months. On 16 May, he issued a request for three arrest warrants — against Muammar Al-Qadhafi, Saif Al-Islam Al-Qadhafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi. On 27 June, the Court’s judges decided to issue those warrants for murder and persecution as crimes against humanity. The warrants detail the systematic attacks against civilians, the methods employed to crush any form of opposition — forced disappearance, arbitrary detention, torture — as well as the role of Muammar Al-Qadhafi and his circle in organizing the violence.
The International Criminal Court, the sole permanent court of a universal character, was able to gather legal evidence of those acts even as the violence was taking place. It has therefore demonstrated its ability to react swiftly, thereby putting pressure on those organizing and carrying out the crimes. That is a message we should bear in mind. When faced with the commission of atrocities, the international community and the Security Council can turn to an impartial and independent judicial institution that can begin to work immediately to identify those primarily responsible for committing crimes. International justice henceforth has a role to play in deterring crimes both during and after a crisis. After the Libyan example, inaction is more inexcusable and intolerable than ever.
Lastly, with regard to the process, the judicial process is now under way and must follow its course. Investigations must be carried out if necessary. I am thinking in particular about investigations concerning sexual violence, to which the Prosecutor referred. Also, as he explained, the ICC will pursue only the principals, those who organized and ordered crimes.
The first of those, Muammar Al-Qadhafi, has been killed and will not be able to answer to justice. But the other two individuals who have been indicted, Saif Al-Islam Al-Qadhafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi, must turn themselves in or be arrested.
We welcome the good cooperation and dialogue between the Office of the Prosecutor and the Libyan authorities. In the light of the scale of the crimes committed and given the risk of violence still affecting the country, and to meet the aspirations of the whole of Libyan society for more law and justice, complementarity between the actions of the ICC and those of the new Libyan authorities will be essential.
France welcomes the fact that, in accordance with resolution 1970 (2011), States and regional organizations have offered the Prosecutor their full cooperation, thus enabling his investigation to progress rapidly. Today, two arrest warrants remain outstanding.
The Council must continue to track the implementation of those warrants, and the entire international community — including, if necessary, States in the region — must assist the authorities and the Prosecutor to ensure that the two individuals concerned finally answer for their acts before the law.