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16 May 2012 - Security Council - Libya/ICC report - Statement by Mr. Martin Briens, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(UN translation)

I would like to thank Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo for his third report and for his presentation today. I would like to make four comments.

First, France was one of the sponsors of resolution 1970 (2011), which remains an example of the Council’s capacity for unity and swift action and, more generally, that of the international community. Since mid-February 2011, given the atrocities committed by Libyan leaders, the League of Arab States, the African Union and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation have condemned the acts of violence committed by the Al-Qadhafi regime. On 26 February, resolution 1970 (2011) referred the situation in Libya to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). That started a process that, by showing unambiguously and without hesitation the total isolation of the criminals, whatever their rank, allowed for thousands of lives to be saved. At a time when the Syrian authorities are pursuing violence against civilian populations, often including children, the Council must reiterate its message about the primacy of the rule of law and combating impunity in all circumstances.

Secondly, with regard to the work of the International Criminal Court, following the adoption of resolution 1970 (2011), the Prosecutor carried out his inquiry in a three-month period. On 16 May 2011, he submitted three requests for arrest warrants. On 27 June, the judges issued the warrants. The International Criminal Court thereby showed its ability to act swiftly and to exert pressure on those who organized and committed atrocities. It also enabled us to understand the machinery of the violence in Libya. In that respect, the judicial decisions are edifying: the arrest warrants for crimes against humanity describe planned, systematic attacks against civilians and the methods — forced disappearances, arbitrary detention and torture — that were used to crush all forms of opposition to Muammar Al-Qadhafi. We have noticed that, more than a year after those events, the international community sometimes tends to forget history. Sometimes people tell us that Muammar Al-Qadhafi was apparently ready to negotiate and that the price paid to put an end to his crimes was too high. But the arrest warrants and the clarity with which they expose the orders given to torment civilians are there to prevent such a rewriting of history.

Given the atrocities, the international community and the Security Council are able to turn to an impartial, independent and permanent judicial body — and therefore immediately operational — in order to identify the main perpetrators of the crimes. In the light of the Libyan example, inaction is more inexcusable than ever.

Thirdly, on the follow-up of the process, in November 2011, the Prosecutor promised us an overall accounting of his activities. We have received it and we thank him for it. Muammar Al-Qadhafi was killed and two arrest warrants remain outstanding, one against Saif Al-Islam Al-Qadhafi and the other against Abdullah Al-Senussi. The Libyan authorities have asked to try Saif Al-Islam Al-Qadhafi themselves. It is a great tribute to that post-conflict country to want to shoulder its responsibilities in that way. It is even a lesson for other countries, such as the Sudan, which has never expressed the will to itself try the three people indicted by the ICC.

We welcome the fact that the Libyan Government has chosen to submit its admissibility challenge in full line with the Rome Statute. As the Prosecutor said, the final decision on Saif Al-Islam Al-Qadhafi will be up to the ICC’s judges, whose decisions must be enforced. Libya’s respect for its international obligations, in particular under the terms of resolution of 1970 (2011), is a key indicator of its commitment to the rule of law. With regard to Al-Senussi, the Court has asked for his transfer, and France and Libya have asked for his extradition. We are awaiting a response from Mauritania.

The Prosecutor has also said that he would pursue his inquiry into allegations of gender-based crimes committed in Libya by Al-Qadhafi forces. We welcome the attention paid to the dignity of victims. With regard to persons detained by militias, the Prosecutor referred to the report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Libya (A/HRC/19/68) and noted abuses that were committed. Like him, we encourage the efforts by Libyan authorities to transfer the detainees under their control. The Prosecutor also talked about Tawarghan civilians who were the target of violence in Misrata. We welcome discussions held with the Government on preparing a global strategy to bring an end to crimes and impunity in Libya.

With regard to crimes allegedly committed by NATO, the Prosecutor’s report underscored that there was neither proof nor elements suggesting that NATO command intentionally planned or committed crimes against the civilian population. With regard to the five cases of airstrikes identified by the Commission of Inquiry as having led to civilian losses, the Libyan Prime Minister undertook, here, before the Security Council, to carry out his own inquiry. NATO has said that it would offer its full support.

The process initiated by resolution 1970 (2011) must continue. Combating impunity is essential for a country like Libya that has embarked upon the path of the rule of law. Incidentally, the Council has just reaffirmed that proposition in resolution 2040 (2012), to which the Prosecutor made reference. Pursuing that process requires both the full cooperation of Libya with the Office of the Prosecutor and the full support of the Council, the Secretariat and the United Nations Support Mission in Libya for the work of the ICC.

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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