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25 February 2011 - Libya - Remarks to the press by Mr. Gerard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(in English and in French)

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 U.S. 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 communality 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 9am our experts will meet to examine the text. At 11am 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 rendez vous 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?

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 to have this reference and I have said it to the Council very clearly.

Q: Is there broad agreement on sanctions in there?

Yes. I was quoting ambassador Churkin. He said we don’t need to have a debate because there is such a communality 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?

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?

No. No. 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 Kadhafi and Kadhafi family.

As for the sanctions it will be sanctions on targeted assets, and visa ban, 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 Kadhafi family. But you don’t have only the Kadhafi family, you have the main members of the leadership.

Q. How many people are on the list?

I think it’s something like 20, but may be I’m wrong. I’m not sure, that’s from my memory.

Je vais maintenant parler en français.

Comme vous le savez, et le président de la République française l’a déclaré, on ne peut réagir qu’avec la plus grande indignation aux événements tragiques qui ont lieu en Libye. Il n’est pas lieu, il n’est plus le moment de parler d’ingérences dans les affaires intérieures. C’est une question humanitaire. C’est une question qui concerne l’ensemble de la communauté internationale.

J’ajouterai que le discours de l’Ambassadeur Shalgham a été un moment extrêmement émouvant, extrêmement fort, puisque l’ambassadeur de Libye a appelé à des sanctions contre son propre pays et qu’il a été acclamé par les ambassadeurs arabe et les ambassadeurs africains. C’est un moment historique qui prouve que la défense des droits de l’Homme, la défense de l’accès humanitaire n’est pas un sujet occidental mais un sujet de l’ensemble de la communauté internationale.

C’est dans ce contexte que le Conseil de sécurité doit être à la hauteur de la tâche. Le Conseil de sécurité doit envoyer un message fort, une résolution, une résolution de sanctions qui devrait comporter trois principales parties : sanctions contre les personnes, embargo sur les armes, et, c’est le sujet le plus difficile, appel à la Cour pénale internationale.

Pour citer l’ambassadeur de Russie, ce qui est très frappant parmi les 15 membres du Conseil de sécurité c’est la position commune des 15 membres du Conseil de sécurité. Il y a des nuances, mais les 15 veulent des sanctions, les 15 veulent un embargo sur les armes, et les 15 veulent aller très vite. Et donc nous nous réunissons demain à 11 heures et rien ne devrait s’opposer à ce que nous ayons une résolution demain soir.

Q. Et la Cour pénale ?

Sur la Cour pénale internationale, il y aura une négociation, il faut faire confiance à l’imagination des diplomates. Ce n’est jamais oui ou non, on peut trouver des formulations, je l’espère. En tout cas, du point de vue français, et je ne suis pas le seul, mon collègue allemand, mon collègue britannique notamment, mon collègue colombien, ont beaucoup insisté sur l’importance d’une référence à la Cour pénale internationale. Ce sera une partie de la négociation.

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU