24 March 2011
Security Council

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6505th Meeting (PM)

Secretary-General, Briefing Security Council, Says International Community Must


‘Continue to Act with Speed and Decision’ for Sake Of Libyan Civilians


Delivering a briefing today on the critical situation in Libya following the Security Council’s imposition of a no-fly zone on the country, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the international community must “continue to act with speed and decision” to save civilian lives.

“The international community has acted together to avert a potential large-scale crisis,” Mr. Ban said as he recounted his activities since last week’s passage of Council resolution 1973 (2011).  “In all my meetings, public and private, I took special care to stress that action under resolution 1973 is governed by an overriding objective — to save the lives of innocent civilians,” he added.

“I emphasized how important it is for the international community to speak with one voice, both in implementing resolution 1973 and in dealing with the humanitarian situation,” he continued, praising the efforts of Tunisia and Egypt in bearing the brunt of the refugee crisis resulting from the turmoil in Libya.  Pointing out that the resolution placed “great responsibilities” on the United Nations system, he pledged: “I assure you that we will work closely with Member States and regional organizations to coordinate a common, effective and timely response.”

He reported that the campaign to secure a no-fly zone through military strikes initiated by the United States and European forces was ongoing.  So far, the United States, United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Canada, Italy, Qatar, Belgium, Norway, Spain and the United Arab Emirates had sent the letters of notification required by those taking measures to enforce the no-fly zone and protect civilians while facilitating humanitarian operations and evacuation flights.

There was no evidence to support the repeated claims by Libyan authorities that they had instituted a ceasefire and otherwise taken steps to carry out their obligations under relevant resolutions, the Secretary-General said.  He expressed continuing concerns about the protection of civilians, human rights abuses, violations of international humanitarian law and access to basic commodities and services in areas under siege.

More than 335,600 people had fled Libya since the beginning of the crisis, with some 9,000 remaining stranded along the borders with Tunisia and Egypt, he said.  As of 21 March, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had provided evacuation assistance for more than 60,000 fleeing people.  The regional flash appeal, which had requested $160.3 million, was 63 per cent funded, and there were contingency plans to deal with possible new waves of as many as 250,000 migrants.  However, no agreement had been reached on how an inter-agency needs assessment mission would be carried out, he added, reminding all parties of their obligations to facilitate safe access by humanitarian organizations to populations in need.

The Secretary-General said his Special Envoy, Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, had held consultations with Libyan officials in Tripoli on 13 March and with leaders of the armed opposition in Tobruk on 21 March, in the interest of reaching a ceasefire and a political solution.  The Special Envoy’s mission had been too brief to reach definitive conclusions about the human rights situation, but there were many worrying signs.  His request that the Government cooperate with an independent commission to investigate alleged violations of human rights, as called for by the Human Rights Council, had been met with a positive response, even though specific actions had not been discussed.  Tomorrow, Mr. Khatib would travel to Addis Ababa for a meeting convened by the African Union, Mr. Ban added.

Regarding the requirement, under resolution 1973 (2011), that he establish a panel of experts to monitor the sanctions imposed on Libya, the Secretary-General said the Secretariat was now reviewing its roster of candidates.

Adopting resolution 1973 (2011) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Security Council demanded the immediate establishment of a ceasefire and a complete end to violence and to all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians.  It stressed the need to intensify efforts to find a solution to the crisis that would be responsive to the legitimate demands of the Libyan people.  (See Press Release SC/10200 of 17 March.)

The meeting began at 3:08 p.m. and ended at 3:25 p.m.

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For information media • not an official record