Friday, March 18, 2011

The Security Council effectively authorized the use of force in Libya to protect civilians from attack

Security Council authorizes ‘all necessary measures’ to protect civilians in Libya. The Security Council today effectively authorized the use of force in Libya to protect civilians from attack, specifically in the eastern city of Benghazi, which Colonel Muammar Al-Qadhafi has reportedly said he will storm tonight to end a revolt against his regime.

Acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which provides for the use of force if needed, the Council adopted a resolution by 10 votes to zero, with five abstentions, including those of veto-wielding China and Russia, authorizing Member States “to take all necessary measures… to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamhariya, including Benghazi, while excluding an occupation force.”

Mr. Ban, who is currently visiting Guatemala, is keeping in close touch with “the critical discussions” under way in the Security Council over measures aimed at protecting civilians, and last night spoke by phone with Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa.

The special envoy whom Mr. Ban sent to Tripoli, the capital, for humanitarian and political talks with Mr. Qadhafi’s Government, former Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul Ilah Khatib, has now left the city after two days of discussions in which he conveyed “the strong calls by the international community to cease the fighting and the violence, to ensure humanitarian access and to work toward a peaceful solution of the crisis,” the statement said.

“The Special Envoy stressed the need for a firm and unambiguous commitment on the part of the Libyan government to cease hostilities immediately,” it added.

Mr. Khatib is continuing his efforts, including contacts with representatives of Libyan political groups in Benghazi, as well as with the authorities in Tripoli.

Muammar Gaddafi
Security Council members are holding consultations over an Arab League request that it impose a no-fly zone against Mr. Qadhafi’s air force, which has been pounding cities held by his opponents.

The 15-member body last month imposed sanctions against the Libyan authorities, placing an arms embargo on the country and freezing the assets of its leaders, while referring the violent repression of civilian demonstrators to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo subsequently announced that he is opening an investigation into Mr. Qadhafi, some of his sons and members of his inner circle for crimes against humanity in repressing peaceful protesters in violence that has claimed hundreds or even thousands of lives, according to media reports. Mr. Ban has said Mr. Qadhafi lost his legitimacy when he declared war on his people.