Allow me first to thank you, Sir, for your warm words of welcome, which I deeply appreciated.
The world is experiencing one of the great revolutions that change the course of history. From North Africa to the Persian Gulf, the Arab people clamour to breathe the air of liberty and democracy.
From the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia and the events of 25 January in Egypt, great hope arose and democratic transition was launched in a spirit of maturity and responsibility.
In Morocco, King Mohammed VI announced in a courageous and visionary speech the establishment of a constitutional monarchy.
This new Arab spring is good news, I am certain, for all of us. Our duty and interest require us to support these developments with confidence and availability — not to teach lessons or set examples, but to help each people to build its own future.
In Libya, alas, for a number of weeks the will of the people has been crushed by the murderous repression led by Colonel Al-Qadhafi’s regime against his own people.
That is why the General Assembly, pursuant to the 25 February request of the Human Rights Council, suspended Libya from that Council. That is why the Security Council determined on 26 February that "the widespread and systematic attacks currently taking place in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity" (resolution 1970 (2011)).
In its resolution 1970 (2011), which was adopted unanimously, the Security Council recalled the Libyan authorities’ responsibility to protect the Libyan people and at the same time demanded an immediate end to the violence. It expressed the hope that those responsible for these crimes will be brought before the International
Criminal Court and referred the matter to the Prosecutor. It imposed sanctions on Colonel Al-Qadhafi, members of his family and his accomplices. Finally, it imposed an embargo on arms destined for Libya.
These measures have not been sufficient. Throughout the country, violence against the civilian population has only increased.
Given this intolerable provocation, the international community has reacted in near unanimity.
— The European Union did so at the extraordinary meeting of the European Council on 11 March.
— The Group of Eight countries did so in Paris on Tuesday.
— Regional organizations have also expressed themselves forcefully. First and foremost, the League of Arab States called on the Security Council in its 12 March resolution to establish a no-fly zone. I also wish to commend the commitment of the African Union, which has called for an end to the violence against civilians.
Despite these calls for peace, the situation in Libya today is more alarming than ever. As I speak, Colonel Al-Qadhafi’s troops pursue their violent conquest of liberated cities and territories. We must not give free rein to warmongers; we must not abandon civilian populations, the victims of brutal repression, to their fate; we must not allow the rule of law and international morality to be trampled underfoot.
For this reason, France sought to contribute its utmost to the international momentum by working alongside the United Kingdom, the United States and others to prepare the draft resolution before the Council.
The draft resolution provides the Council with the means to protect the civilian populations in Libya.
— First by establishing a no-fly zone and by authorizing the members of the Arab League and those Member States that so wish to take the measures necessary to implement its provisions.
— Furthermore, it authorizes these same States to take all measures necessary, over and above the no-fly zone, to protect civilians and territories, including Benghazi, which are under the threat of attack by Colonel Al-Qadhafi’s forces.
— Lastly, it strengthens the sanctions that have been adopted against the regime, including implementing the arms embargo, freezing the assets of authorities in Tripoli and prohibiting flights by Libyan airlines.
France solemnly calls on all members of the Security Council to support this initiative and to adopt the draft resolution. If it is adopted, we are prepared to act with Member States — in particular Arab States — that wish to do so.
We do not have much time left. It is a matter of days, perhaps even hours. Every hour and day that goes by means a further clampdown and repression for the freedom-loving civilian population, in particular the people of Benghazi. Every hour and day that goes by increases the burden of responsibility on our shoulders.
If we are careful not to act too late, the Security Council will have the distinction of having ensured that in Libya law prevails over force, democracy over dictatorship and freedom over oppression.