Libya/UNSCR 1973/no-fly zone/sanctions
New York, March 17, 2011
I’d like to thank you for your warm words of welcome, which I greatly appreciate.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The world is currently undergoing one of those great revolutions that change the course of history: from North Africa to the Persian Gulf, Arab peoples are proclaiming their hope for freedom and democracy!
In Tunisia, with the “Jasmine Revolution”, in Egypt with 25 January, a great hope has arisen: the democratic transition is under way, in a spirit of maturity and responsibility.
In Morocco, in a brave and visionary speech, King Mohammed VI announced the establishment of a constitutional monarchy.
This “new Arab spring” is – I’m sure of it – good news for us all. Our duty and our interest compel us to support it with confidence and openness, certainly not in order to teach lessons or set examples to anyone but to help each people to build its own future by itself.
In Libya, sadly, the will of the people has for several weeks been trampled underfoot by the regime of Colonel Gaddafi, who is leading a bloody crackdown on his own citizens.
That’s why the United Nations General Assembly, as recommended by the Human Rights Council on 25 February, suspended Libya from that Council.
It’s why, on 26 February, the Security Council said – I quote – that “the widespread and systematic attacks (…) against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity”. In UNSCR 1970, adopted unanimously, it recalled that the Libyan authorities have a responsibility to protect the Libyan people.
It also demanded “an immediate end to the violence”. It expressed the wish that those responsible for these crimes be brought before the International Criminal Court, and it referred the matter to its prosecutor. It imposed sanctions on Colonel Gaddafi, his family and his accomplices. Finally, it ordered an embargo on arms bound for Libya.
These measures were not sufficient. Throughout the country, the violence perpetrated against the civilian population only grew fiercer.
In the face of these intolerable provocations, the international community reacted with virtual unanimity:
the European Union did so at the Extraordinary European Council of 11 March;
the G8 countries did so in Paris on Tuesday;
the regional organizations also spoke out strongly. I’m referring firstly to the Arab League, which, in its resolution of 12 March, appealed to the Security Council, calling for the establishment of a no-fly zone. I’d also like to welcome the commitment by the African Union, which 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 Gaddafi’s troops are continuing the violent recapture of the towns and territories that liberated themselves. We can’t let the warmongers do as they please! We can’t abandon civilian populations suffering brutal repression to their fate. We can’t allow international law and morality to be treated with contempt.
That’s why France wished to contribute with all her might to the international community’s strong reaction by working with Britain, the United States and others, to draw up the draft resolution submitted to us.
Through this resolution, we create the means to protect the Libyan civilian population:
first of all, by imposing a no-fly zone and authorizing those Arab League members and [UN] Member States who so wish to take the necessary measures to implement it;
secondly, by authorizing those Member States to take all necessary measures, in addition to the no-fly zone, to protect the population and territories, including Benghazi, which are under threat of an attack by the Gaddafi regime’s forces;
and finally, by strengthening the sanctions adopted against the regime, whether it be by implementing the arms embargo, freezing the assets of the Tripoli authorities or banning flights by Libyan airlines.
France solemnly calls on all the members of the Security Council to support this initiative and adopt this resolution. If this mandate is passed, she is ready to act with those Member States, particularly Arab ones, who so wish.
We no longer have much time. It’s a matter of days; it may be a matter of hours. With every day, every hour that goes by, the forces of repression are closing the net around a civilian population who long for freedom, particularly the population of Benghazi.
Every day, every hour that goes by increases the weight of responsibility on our shoulders.
Let’s be sure not to arrive too late!
It will be to the Security Council’s credit to have made law prevail over force, democracy over dictatorship and freedom over oppression in Libya.