SPEAKERS URGE SECURITY COUNCIL TO LIFT ITS SANCTIONS AGAINST LIBYA STEMMING FROM 1988 BOMBING OF PAN AM FLIGHT 10319980320 Council Asked to Suspend Sanctions Pending World Court Ruling Relating to Trial Venue for Libyan Suspects
The Security Council was urged this afternoon to lift its sanctions regime against Libya until a final solution was reached in the dispute over the trial of two Libyan nationals suspected in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
The sanctions were described as a form of collective punishment against the Libyan people that had failed to secure justice for any of the parties concerned -- the relatives and friends of the victims of Pan Am flight 103, the two accused men and the international community.
By its resolutions 748 (1992) and 883 (1993), the Council imposed a wide range of aerial, arms and diplomatic sanctions on Libya aimed at ensuring that the suspects in the Lockerbie bombing appeared before appropriate courts in the United Kingdom or the United States. Libya, however, has maintained that the suspects would not be able to receive a fair trial in either of those countries, owing to biased media coverage.
The representative of Malaysia said the Council could ease the severe impact of the air embargo on Libya's public health and social conditions by exempting flights for medical and humanitarian relief and for religious purposes, particularly for the "Umrah" and the Haj pilgrimages, which should never have been included in the sanctions regime in the first place.
The representative of Cuba said the lifting of sanctions had been held hostage to unilateral conditions imposed by some permanent members of the Council in order to restrict the right of some countries to try their own nationals. Citing a lack of consistency in the resolutions adopted by the Council, he said the United Nations should not be a tool for furthering the political agenda of the powerful.
Security Council - 1a - Press Release SC/6491 Resumed 3864th Meeting (PM) 20 March 1998
Many speakers drew attention to recent decisions by the International Court of Justice, which decided its competence to hear cases brought by Libya regarding the situation. The representatives described it as a new development which could pave the way for a fair, just and peaceful solution to the dispute by placing it firmly in the legal arena.
The representative of Zimbabwe said the Court had effectively ended the diplomatic dispute concerning jurisdiction over the Lockerbie affair and provided a firm basis for the removal of the sanctions, which had brought untold suffering and hardship to the people of Libya for seven years.
The representative of Pakistan said the Council should objectively, dispassionately and comprehensively examine the implications of the Court's judgment, which constituted a historic development in the evolution of international law. It needed to consider seriously whether its sanctions against Libya were still required.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Malta, Algeria, Indonesia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, Ghana, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iraq, Mauritania, Namibia, Morocco, Tunisia, Guinea-Bissau, Sudan, Nigeria, India, United Republic of Tanzania, Oman, Iran, Colombia, Lebanon and the Lao's People's Democratic Republic.
The meeting, which was called to order at 4:14 p.m., was adjourned at 8:26 p.m.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this afternoon to continue its consideration of the situation in Libya. (For further background information, see Press Release SC/6490.)
GEORGE SALIBA (Malta) said a collateral effect of the application and enforcement of the sanctions regime on Libya was undermining the holistic approach of the political, economic and social initiatives launched to achieve security and stability in the Mediterranean. In the case of Malta, those sanction continued to have a negative impact on its bilateral business and investment opportunities, on travel arrangements between the two countries and on other economic and social exchanges.
A debate should be launched, he said, to explore alternative measures for the application of sanctions and on measures that offered built-in incentives that encouraged changes in the behaviour of targeted countries. Sanctions on a targeted country had severe effects on the population at large, and the United Nations should take immediate remedial actions to alleviate the suffering of the vulnerable groups in that society. The time had come to address the broader humanitarian and economic effects of sanctions, as well as objective criteria in their application and the conditions to be complied with for their termination.
It was a source of satisfaction to note the increasing worldwide chorus of opinions that had joined the Secretary-General in calling for a re-assessment of the criteria for the imposition of sanctions, he said. The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights had recognized that almost always sanctions had a dramatic impact on the rights recognized in the Covenant. Sanctions often caused significant disruption of food, pharmaceuticals and sanitation supplies. They also jeopardized the quality of food and availability of clean drinking water, severely interfered with the functioning of basic health and education systems and undermined the right to work.
The decisions of the International Court of Justice provided an opportunity to view the Lockerbie incident and related issues in a new light, he said. The most significant implication was that the Court, through its decisions, had recognized the fact that Libya's case had a legal basis. The judgment in itself was a positive development in an issue that had been dragging on for too long a time. Malta awaited further development in that issue and hoped that the legal and political instruments and measures provided by the Charter would soon lead to a just and fair solution to that sad episode.
Security Council - 3 - Press Release SC/6491 Resumed 3864th Meeting (PM) 20 March 1998
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said that for too many years the Libyan people had been subjected to an embargo which had serious implications in the health and social sectors.
The consequences of the sanctions were well documented in Mr. Petrovsky's report, he said. The Libyan people were increasingly cut off from the rest of the world for reasons they did not completely understand. Algeria called for a strengthening of international cooperation to tackle terrorism and to uncover all the truth in the Lockerbie case. That was a crime that should not go unpunished.
Libya had already declared its readiness to commit the two suspects to a trial in a third country, he said. The country was ready to end the dispute in a fair fashion. What ultimately counted was that the truth be established and justice done. Terrorists should be tried, and if their guilt was established, they should receive a punishment that would discourage similar acts in the future. In addition, the unspeakable suffering of the Libyan people should end.
The International Court of Justice's recent decisions should mark the start of a process that would end the current deadlock in the matter, he said. The long-awaited resolution of the tragedy should lead the way to the lifting of sanctions on Libya. The end of the Lockerbie crisis would also lessen the tensions in the region. Algeria hoped that the Court's judgment would prompt the Council and the Assembly to hold a debate on the general fruitfulness of sanctions and the arrangements and conditions for lifting them.
ARIZAL EFFENDI (Indonesia) expressed deep concern at the continuing dispute between Libya and some permanent members of the Security Council over the Lockerbie incident. The stalemate in finding a just and fair solution had only prolonged the agony and suffering of the victim's families. The sanctions had taken a heavy economic toll on Libya and its people. If the situation remained unsettled, it might lead to tension and instability in the region and beyond.
The report of the Secretary-General's fact-finding mission to Libya had portrayed a sombre picture of the sanctions' detrimental consequences, not only on the Libyan people but also on the neighbouring countries. It was therefore incumbent on the Council to reappraise the humanitarian dimension of the situation in Libya, mitigate the adverse impact of sanctions and consider ways of settling the crisis expeditiously and peacefully.
Since the beginning of the crisis, Libya had consistently striven to fulfil its obligations under relevant Council resolutions and the provisions of the Charter, he said. Libya's measures had been widely acknowledged as significant contributions in clarifying the issues and in promoting a peaceful
Security Council - 4 - Press Release SC/6491 Resumed 3864th Meeting (PM) 20 March 1998
solution. Libya had also expressed its readiness to cooperate with the efforts of regional and international forums in defusing the situation and in the endeavours to reach an amicable settlement. Libya had supported the Arab League's initiative which was endorsed by the OAU and the Movement of Non- Aligned Countries. Its acceptance by the Council would serve the cause of justice and the interests of the parties concerned. A settlement of the dispute should also be sought on the basis of the judgments delivered last month by the International Court of Justice, which upheld the legality of Libya's claims as well as the applicability of the 1971 Montreal Convention.
Regrettably, the balanced and well-meaning initiatives and recommendations of the international community and the new situation created by the Court's judgments had been cast aside, leading to an impasse and increased suffering for the Libyan people. Indonesia deplored the indifference by some Member States to the proposals and options submitted to them.
As a rule, sanctions should be terminated once their original objectives were achieved. In the present crisis, those goals had been accomplished and any prolongation of sanctions would lead to the further worsening of the situation in Libya, ultimately benefit no one and even prove to be counter- productive.
It was time for the Council to take steps to achieve a breakthrough in the deadlock. He called on the countries most directly affected to be flexible and to respond positively to the initiatives for dialogue and negotiations that would lead to an urgent, peaceful, just and comprehensive settlement of the crisis and to refrain from actions that further exacerbated the situation.
KHALIL ABOU-HADID (Syria) said the Security Council was meeting to debate a legal question. The Arab States were profoundly satisfied with the recent decision by the International Court of Justice. It had provided the right path to treat the crisis on a sound legal basis. According to the British newspaper, The Independent, the real victors in the Court's decision were the families of the victims who were fed up by the Anglo/American stalling. Syria had hoped the Council would debate the issue in all its details and not just listen. It was only fair to take into consideration the fact that Libya had initiated its International Court of Justice proceeding before the adoption of resolutions 748 (1992) and 883 (1993). It had presented its case to the Court in good faith regarding the application of the Montreal Convention. Unfortunately, the Council had gone ahead and imposed sanctions against Libya, which had been suffering with no hope of light at the end of the tunnel.
Security Council - 5 - Press Release SC/6491 Resumed 3864th Meeting (PM) 20 March 1998
He said Libya had shown good intentions in attempting to resolve the situation. Equitable and fair solutions had been considered by the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the League of Arab States and the Non- Aligned Movement and Organization of Islamic Conference. Hopefully, the Council would end the suffering of the Libyan people, which had gone on for too long. It was wrong for the Council to continue its sanctions. He urged the parties concerned to cooperate. The sanctions should be lifted or frozen pending a final decision by the Court on the case.
MOHAMMAD SAMHAN (United Arab Emirates) said his Government was concerned that the dispute between Libya and the United States and the United Kingdom was not moving towards a final and just settlement. In fact, it had worsened, due to a lack of consensus on whether the matter was political or legal in nature. The Council resolutions imposing sanctions against Libya linked that country with terrorism because of two persons that were presumed guilty and who were residing in that State. Libya had shown the purity of its intentions from the outset of the dispute and had stated it was prepared to cooperate with international efforts. Libya was also willing to accept the extradition of the two suspects in order to bring them to trial by an impartial legal body outside its territory. That was a solution that would allow Libya to protect its national dignity and sovereignty. Yet the other States involved had rejected all of Libya's proposals, thereby causing the stalemate.
The sanctions regime imposed on Libya was unsuccessful because the sanctions were designed to affect vital spheres for development in Libya, he said. Therefore, they had become sanctions against the Libyan people as a whole. The fact-finding mission to Libya verified the human and material losses suffered by Libya, a majority of which were caused by the sanctions. The human and social crisis had now taken on tragic dimensions, leading to an increase in the mortality rate and the number of disabled persons. The International Court of Justice's recent decisions showed that the matter was juridical and fell under the jurisdiction of the Court. There was a need to adopt and endorse the decisions of the Court and regard them as binding. Steps should be taken to reconsider the question of sanctions against Libya until a final decision was taken by the Court, resolving the matter once and for all. The Council must adopt measures to allow for humanitarian exemptions to the sanctions.
SAMHAN ABULHASAN (Kuwait) said Libya had taken several steps to address the measures contained in the Council's resolutions. The OAU and the League of Arab States were among regional organizations which had undertaken efforts to resolve the dispute. The lack of a solution to the situation had led to a great deal of suffering for the Libyan people. He expressed condolences to the families and friends of the victims. The case was entering a new phase which might lead to a just solution for all the parties concerned. The findings of the International Court of Justice concerning the application and
Security Council - 6 - Press Release SC/6491 Resumed 3864th Meeting (PM) 20 March 1998
interpretation of the 1971 Montreal Convention could be the beginning of a way for the Council to examine the situation.
He said Kuwait believed that the implementation of all Council resolutions by all States was vital for supporting the United Nations Charter and international law, while maintaining peace and security. Kuwait rejected all forms of terrorism and shared the feelings of families who suffered as a result of terrorist acts. It commended efforts by the Secretary-General to resolve the situation, including the sending of experts to examine the Scottish legal system. Kuwait was satisfied by the report of the fact-finding mission to Libya. A positive view should be adopted according the Court's decisions and to consider them a worthy development. The decision was a beginning which could reinforce the achievements and objectives of the relevant Council resolutions. The Council should positively consider proposals by regional organizations aimed at finding a speedy solution to the case.
ABDALLA AL-ASHTAL (Yemen) said the entire world had strongly denounced the terrorist operations that were responsible for the destruction of the Pan Am and UTA flights. The criminals should be identified and punished, provided that the trial was held according to due process. Fairness had not always prevailed. The Council imposed sanctions against Libya on the basis that two Libyans were suspected of being responsible for the Lockerbie incident. Despite Libya's willingness to cooperate in a fair and impartial forum, the only response Libya had received in return was demands to give up its citizens for trial in either the United Kingdom or the United States. Therefore, the sanctions have continued to this day.
The decisions of International Court of Justice stated that the question was a legal one and that it was the competent body to decide the case, based on the Montreal Convention on 1971, he said. That judgment was timely, since the Council recently had been failing to respect international law, tending to take narrow political positions. States have noted that the Council had resorted to the impositions of embargoes without basing them on any precise criteria or the provision of a time-frame. The sanctions imposed on Libya were tantamount to punishment inflicted upon the Libyan people as a whole. Yemen hoped that the Council would respect the judgment handed down by the Court and decide to lift the embargo against Libya.
HASAN ABU-NIMAH (Jordan) said his Government condemned terrorism in all its forms. It continued to consider combatting terrorism a main priority because it had often been a victim of terrorism. It also supported international measures to pursue those who perpetrated such crimes or acts and condemned all those who encouraged, aided or abetted terrorism. Responsibility could be defined and justice served when correct judicial procedures were respected. He called on the Council to respect the decisions
Security Council - 7 - Press Release SC/6491 Resumed 3864th Meeting (PM) 20 March 1998
of the International Court of Justice in order to encourage respect for the Court.
The impositions of sanctions affected innocent civilians who had nothing to do with the crime which the Council wished to punish, he said. The sanctions against Libya had been counter-productive. They had generated feelings of bitterness and despair and had also caused a lack of trust in the Organization and in its impartial defence of all rights. It was necessary to observe due process in the framework of initiatives aimed at resolving the dispute, including those prosed by the OAU, the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. He expressed concern for the Libyan people, while also sharing the suffering of the families of the victims of Pan Am Flight 103. Hopefully, the Council would find a way to deal with the problem in keeping with the principles of the Charter.
M. NABIL EL-ARABY (Egypt) said the current meeting of the Council was particularly important in light of the recent developments regarding the legal dispute over the Lockerbie incident. Those decisions confirmed acceptance of Libya's motion. The overall legal situation decided by the Court confirmed that the dispute was between Libya and the United States and the United Kingdom. In that context, the Montreal Convention recognized the concept of universal jurisdiction, and therefore Libya had the right to hold the trial of the two suspects on its territory. It had not done so because it believed that there should be an agreement between all the parties involved.
An appropriate legal reading of the Court's judgments indicated and confirmed the jurisdiction of the Court, he said. Even if the Charter gave the Council vast powers in safeguarding international peace and security, those powers should not lead to sanctions against States based only on mere suspicion. No one intended to create a constitutional uproar that would reflect upon the integrity of the Council or the Court. But the Council's perfunctory methods of reviewing the sanctions imposed on Libya could lead to such a crisis in due time. The only way out of the present impasse was to endeavour to undertake a just trial of the two suspects, ensuring the integrity of the trial. It was incumbent on the Court alone to settle the matter and determine the venue of the trial.
Taking into account Libya's renouncement of all forms of terrorism and its willingness to cooperate in settling the matter, he said the Council must assume its responsibilities and review all of the options submitted by the OAU and other regional groups. There was also an urgent need to put an end to the suffering of the Libyan people. The Council must respect the decisions of the Court and should consider that what the Court had decided was an additional incentive to all parties to the dispute to settle the matter.
Security Council - 8 - Press Release SC/6491 Resumed 3864th Meeting (PM) 20 March 1998
JACK WILMOT (Ghana) said in an effort to advance the cause of justice, the OAU, the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement had proposed mechanisms that would allow for the determination of responsibility for destruction of Pan Am flight 103 and UTA flight 772. Ghana called on the Council to give serious consideration to the proposals. By adopting one of the alternatives for immediate implementation, the Council would secure a speedy settlement to the dispute which would do justice to the victims, their bereaved families and the suspects.
On 27 February the International Court of Justice decided that the Montreal Convention was applicable to the Lockerbie case, he said. The Court decided further that it had jurisdiction to hear the dispute between the parties as to the interpretation or application of the provisions of that Convention. Those decisions appeared to weaken the foundations of the Council's resolutions, which imposed sanctions on one of the parties. If there was a dispute as to judicial competence to establish responsibility for the tragic incidents, then it was premature to impose sanctions on one of the parties.
In light of recent developments, he said the Council should review its resolutions with a view to suspending or lifting the sanctions imposed on one of the parties, or pending the establishment of responsibility. The Council exercised its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security on behalf of all the Member States. Therefore, in order to retain its legitimacy, the Council ought to remain cognizant of the reasoned views and sentiments of the wider membership, which called for an end to sanctions against Libya and a settlement of the dispute in the Lockerbie affair.
LI HYONG CHOL (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) said that the World Court's judgment should be seized as an important occasion to further highlight the principle of impartiality in the activities of the United Nations. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was opposed to all forms of terrorism, as well as to every act of infringement of the sovereignty of Member States under the pretext of "anti-terrorism".
The imposition of sanctions had caused immeasurable and life-threatening suffering to the Libyan people, he said. With the lapse of time, the imposition of sanctions gave rise to doubts as to whether such an act could be legally justified or morally condoned. Citing international laws and practices, Libya had rejected the demand made by the United States and the United Kingdom to surrender the two Libyans as criminals. Nevertheless, the Council hastily adopted resolution 748 calling for Libya to surrender those nationals, and deciding upon the imposition of sanctions.
The process thus far was reminiscent of a European proverb that "might is right", and cast doubt about the responsibility and credibility of the
Security Council - 9 - Press Release SC/6491 Resumed 3864th Meeting (PM) 20 March 1998
Council, he said. Claims of Libyan involvement in the Lockerbie incident were no more than allegations, and Libya strongly rejected them. How then could anti-Libyan resolutions be adopted? Were there really no ways and means of peacefully settling the dispute? Was the sanction the Council's only choice? The current dispute demonstrated that when the principles of justice and impartiality were disregarded, disputes would remain unresolved indefinitely, serving to prolong the sufferings of innocent people.
The principles of justice, objectivity and impartiality were the life- line of the United Nations, he said. The issue should be resolved through dialogue and negotiations based on those principles, in view of the direct involvement of super-Powers. The proposals submitted by Libya and the OAU could fairly resolve the Libyan issue. Now, the parties concerned should have the political will to sit down face to face to settle the issue peacefully and explore reasonable solutions in a sincere manner.
NIZAR HAMDOON (Iraq) said the various sanctions regimes which had been imposed since the end of the cold war had given rise to major political and legal problems. Council resolutions imposing sanctions had been transformed into an instrument for preserving the narrow interests of one particular State. They were a means to impose collective punishment against innocent people, especially the sanctions against Libya and Iraq. The Libyan sanctions were a vivid example of that fact. They were imposed for the mere suspicion that Libyan nationals were involved in the infamous Lockerbie incident. The sanctions were not based on facts and therefore had no legal justification. They were also having an adverse effect on the Libyan people. The problem related to the implementation of resolutions 731 (1992), 748 (1992) and 883 (1993). The United States and the United Kingdom had insisted that Libya hand over the suspects.
He said Libya had launched numerous positive initiatives, as had the OAU, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the League of Arab States and the Non-Aligned Movement. However, the United States and the United Kingdom had resisted consideration of those initiatives. Instead, they had called for Libya to respect the will of the international community. However, if initiatives on behalf of 140 States did not express the will of the international community, what did? he asked.
The review of Council sanctions should be conducted in an open meeting, so the international community could see whether the Council was expressing its will according to the principles of the Charter, he continued. Why was a consensus required to change the sanctions regime when none was required to impose sanctions? Neither resolution 748 (1992) and 883 (1993) had been adopted unanimously, and a permanent member had abstained in both votes. The mechanism of reviewing the sanctions allowed one State to block the consensus.
Security Council - 10 - Press Release SC/6491 Resumed 3864th Meeting (PM) 20 March 1998
Why did the Council fail to observe the international community's agreement on the need for a time-frame for sanctions? he asked.
The recent decision of the International Court of Justice was an important development in efforts to break the sanctions, he said. Since the Court was capable of pronouncing itself on the dispute, there was no need for continued coercive measures. The imposition of sanctions under resolutions 748 (1992) and 883 (1993) did not invalidate the Court's role, which was defined by the United Nations Charter. He called upon the Council to adopt a resolution to suspend the sanctions against Libya, as they were fraught with grave dangers for the international community.
AHMED OULD SID AHMED (Mauritania) said the Lockerbie crisis was a cause of concern for many countries. The nature of the dispute required that the international community seriously consider how it could go about finding a just and lasting solution that was respectful to the rights of all the States involved. The sanctions imposed against Libya were iniquitous, which had many ramifications which were difficult to control completely. The repercussions of the sanctions had caused suffering for the Libyan people and had also affected the other countries in the region. The three options presented by the League of Arab States, the OAU and other organizations should be used as the basis for a fair solution to the problem.
AHMAD KAMAL (Pakistan) recalled the relevance to the current discussion of Chapter VI, Article 33 of the United Nations Charter, which stated that disputes between States must be resolved "first of all, by seeking a solution by negotiations, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other means of their own choice". It would be legitimate to ask whether all those options had been exhausted before sanctions were imposed on Libya.
Also by the Charter, it was obvious that legal disputes must be decided by the World Court alone, he said. Indeed, when the Organization itself was faced with a legal problem, the General Assembly or the Security Council might also request an advisory opinion of the Court, further emphasizing the significance that the authors of the Charter attached to the Court. The Council should objectively, dispassionately and comprehensively examine the implications of the Court's judgements, which constituted a historic development in the evolution of international law.
He said that the Council also needed to give serious consideration to the question of whether the sanctions it had imposed on a State party to the Montreal Convention in 1992 were still required. Furthermore, it should reconsider whether it could remain seized of that issue, which was now pending before the Court. Member States should also recall that, according to the General Assembly, sanctions should be established "with clear objectives ...
Security Council - 11 - Press Release SC/6491 Resumed 3864th Meeting (PM) 20 March 1998
and precise conditions for their lifting". In that regard, the Assembly had also stressed the need to minimize unintended adverse side-effects on the civilian population.
In accordance with the judgments of the World Court, the parties to the dispute should take recourse to the legal framework provided by the Montreal Convention, and extend their full cooperation to the Court to decide the case on merits. Its judgments provided a viable way out to amicably address that important issue.
MACHIVENYIKA T. MAPURANGA (Zimbabwe) said the two decisions of the International Court of Justice on the dispute between Libya and the United States and the United Kingdom over the Lockerbie incident constituted a turning point. They could also pave the way for a fair, just and peaceful solution. Those decisions effectively ended the diplomatic dispute concerning jurisdiction over the Lockerbie affair and provided a firm basis for the removal of the sanctions, which have brought untold suffering and hardship to the people of Libya for seven years.
The OAU had consistently invoked the universal trend towards peace and detente and had called for a peaceful resolution to that crisis, he said. It renewed its called on the Security Council to consider the three compromise options it submitted jointly with the League of Arab States and supported by the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The Government of Libya had proven flexible and well-disposed towards those proposals. It stated that it did not question the fairness of Scottish law and the integrity of Scottish judges, but it did insist on a neutral venue for the trial.
His Government called upon the Security Council to maintain the momentum generated by the Court's decisions by removing the sanctions regime, he said. Those sanctions caused suffering among the Libyan people and continued to impart a confrontational tone to the whole dispute. It was time for the Court to be given a chance to exercise its jurisdiction in order to bring that matter to a definitive conclusion.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said that governments in Africa did not condone gross violations of human rights, nor did they seek to trivialize the loss of life that occurred in the Lockerbie tragedy. The pain emanating from the loss of lives in that tragedy would remain. Yet the international community could avert the continued suffering of many more innocent persons who suffered as a result of the sanctions imposed on Libya. It was unfortunate that those sanctions had been imposed even before the suspects could be proven guilty in a court of law.
Security Council - 12 - Press Release SC/6491 Resumed 3864th Meeting (PM) 20 March 1998
An impasse on the matter would only prolong the pain and agony of all concerned, he said. Africa had already declared its readiness to assist in pushing the matter along. It did so in its resolve to transform Africa from a continent of conflict and gloom to one of hope and peace, stability and development. His Government called on the United Nations to uphold its responsibility and moral obligation to Africa. The Council should give serious consideration to the OAU's proposals for an equitable solution to the matter. Namibia welcomed the two judgments issued by the International Court of Justice.
AHMED SNOUSSI (Morocco) said his Government denounced the acts of terrorism which claimed over 400 lives in the destruction of the Pan Am and UTA flights. Following those incidents, Libya had denounced and deplored those tragedies. It was clearly willing to cooperate with the international community, as requested by the Council. However, Libya's cooperation had not been accompanied by an easing of the sanctions imposed on that country and its people. The citizens of Morocco had also suffered because of those sanctions. His Government had seen all the attempts to find a fair and acceptable solution that honoured international law and customs. Libya had never refused to bring the two suspects to trial -- it merely had a different proposal concerning how the trial should be conducted.
He expressed appreciation to the several regional groups for their efforts to find a solution to the situation and end to the suffering of the Libyan people. The recent decisions of the International Court of Justice represented a culmination of the efforts of the international community. They would also help the Council get a better grasp of the conflict, which had caused an entire people to be punished. His country and others were motivated only by the desire to see the Council entertain different methods and approaches in the matter. The Court's decisions were not intended as a challenge or an act of hostility towards the Council. Rather, they represented a success for the United Nations, as they bolstered the credibility and impartiality of the Organization. Now, it was important to find a responsible solution to the situation. The sanctions could be suspended. If no new action was taken, the prestige of the United Nations could be called into question.
ALI HACHANI (Tunisia) said that with the World Court's findings that it had the competence to deal with the cases brought by Libya, the situation had entered a new, unprecedented stage, which the international community should consider. He also cited the initiatives by several groups of States to resolve the dispute, including efforts by the League of Arab States and the OAU. It was time to put an end to the suffering of the Libyan people and the consequences of the Lockerbie incident on the neighbouring countries.
Security Council - 13 - Press Release SC/6491 Resumed 3864th Meeting (PM) 20 March 1998
JOAO SOARES DA GAMA (Guinea-Bissau) said the Arab League, the OAU and the Non-Aligned Movement had made efforts aimed at putting an end to the suffering of the Libyan people. His country had always expressed its position on coercive measures which affected innocent populations. The tragedy of the families of the victims of Pan Am flight 103 must also be remembered. Many people continued to suffer the consequences of the sanctions, both in Libya and in neighbouring countries.
He said that his Government condemned terrorism in all its forms, whether by individuals, armed groups or others. Libya had appealed to the Council today to consider its suffering. It had shown a cooperative attitude which would ensure that the rights of the victims would be respected and justice would be done. The sanctions against Libya should be re-examined in the light of the ruling by the World Court.
ELFATIH MOHAMED AHMED ERWA (Sudan) said his Government believed that the peaceful settlement of disputes, in accordance with the United Nations Charter, was necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security. The Council was duty-bound to compel the parties to the Lockerbie case to settle the dispute according to the means of their choice. There should be no double-standard in the application of sanctions, by which they might be applied against specific countries without justification. Sanctions violated the Charter and the human conscience.
He said his country supported the proposals advanced by various organizations to find a peaceful settlement to the Lockerbie dispute, especially those of the OAU and the Arab League. The recent decisions by the International Court of Justice regarding the admissibility of Libya's case had reaffirmed the political framework of the issue. The Council should now give the Court time to examine the case and find a solution. The Council should suspend or lift the sanctions until a solution to the conflict was found. The persistence of the sanctions against Libya directly prolonged the suffering of Libyan people and those in neighbouring States.
IBRAHIM A. GAMBARI (Nigeria) said that the Libyan Government had demonstrated sufficient flexibility to meet the demands of the United States and the United Kingdom. By so doing, it had earned the support of the OAU and the Arab League. The Nigerian Government therefore appealed to the two Security Council members most directly affected to demonstrate commensurate flexibility in order to reach a just and fair settlement of the case.
Given the desire of the families of the victims to resolve the case as swiftly as possible, it should be remembered that justice delayed was justice denied, he said. The rejection to date by the United States and the United Kingdom of all of Libya's proposals for a trial in a neutral and impartial place had delayed the trial. Libya had taken a firm and unequivocal stand
Security Council - 14 - Press Release SC/6491 Resumed 3864th Meeting (PM) 20 March 1998
against terrorism and had pledged full and positive cooperation with regional and international efforts to combat that dreadful crime. Since the World Court had confirmed its competence to deal with the case, it should be allowed to do so without further delay.
He said that Nigeria would like to join the call for lifting of the sanctions against Libya, which had devastated the country's civilian population, as well as the region as a whole. The World Court's ruling supported the argument that the sanctions should not have been imposed in the first place, and there was no justification for their continuation before the case was heard by the Court.
It was only right and just that every decision taken by the Council should be able to withstand the careful scrutiny of all Member States, on whose behalf the Council was acting, he said. The ripples of any hasty decisions by the Council, forced by a determined minority, would have far- reaching implications which could damage the credibility and image of the Organization. That could have dire consequences for international peace and security.
KAMALESH SHARMA (India) said the point at issue was to ensure that criminals and terrorists were tried and received punishments commensurate with their crimes. As long as that was assured, it should not be a matter of contention where they were tried. There was clearly a conflict of jurisdiction in the Lockerbie case, and that was at the heart of the problem which the international community had been unable to resolve since 1992. The Montreal Convention stipulated that if a dispute arises between the parties on its interpretation or application, and arbitration was not possible, any of those parties could refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice. India had hoped that a pragmatic decision could have been taken which would have expressed the united will of the international community to bring terrorists to justice. Instead, decisions by the Council had deeply divided the international community, and the accused still awaited trial.
Six years had passed since sanctions were imposed on Libya, he said. The World Court had recently ruled that it had jurisdiction and would consider the matter further. It was in the interest of all countries to let the judicial process take its course and to bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice as swiftly as possible. A long procedural wrangle over where the trial should be held served no one's purpose and would only mean an indefinite imposition of sanction on people who were innocent. Since the Court's decision has removed the original reason for which sanctions were imposed, India trusted that they would be lifted. The impasse of the past few years had the potential of needlessly sowing discord between the two Charter bodies -- the Council and the World Court -- and served no one's purpose. India therefore hoped that pragmatic decisions would be taken which would
Security Council - 15 - Press Release SC/6491 Resumed 3864th Meeting (PM) 20 March 1998
permit the early and fair trial of the accused in an open and credible judicial process, acceptable to the international community.
DAUDI N. MWAKAWAGO (United Republic of Tanzania) said his Government joined those who had called for suspension of the sanctions imposed upon Libya. The victims of the terrorist bombing of Pan Am flight 103 deserved justice and members of the international community had an obligation to ensure that they obtained nothing less. It was therefore regrettable that nearly a decade since the tragic incident, little progress, if any, had been made in resolving the issues surrounding it. That unfortunate state of affairs was compounded by the negative impact of the resolutions under review on Libya's innocent civilian population.
The search for justice did not have to create unwarranted additional victims, he said. The United Republic of Tanzania and the OAU, of which Libya was a member, had sought a peaceful settlement of the dispute. Libya deserved credit for agreeing to the proposals supported by the OAU and the Arab League which offered three options. Those were: trial of the two Libyan suspects in a third and neutral country to be determined by the Council; trial of the suspects at The Hague by Scottish Judges under Scottish law; or the establishment of a special tribunal at the International Court of Justice in The Hague to try them. The proposal represented a practical and suitable compromise.
There was a very fundamental consideration involved as the Council was asked to rescind its sanctions against Libya, since three of its permanent members were parties to the dispute, he said. The issue inevitably addressed their respective national perspectives, making it necessary to trust in their ability to weigh that consideration against their international obligations. The OAU and the Non-Aligned Movement had taken the position that continued sanctions against Libya could not be justified in light of the compromise proposals for a settlement. Concession by the Council in the matter would not weaken it. Rather, it would strengthen both the legitimacy of the Council and the respect for international law.
BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARILLA (Cuba) said his Government endorsed the support offered by regional groups for Libya's request that the Council hold a meeting to consider the sanction regime in that country. The convening of the session was of extraordinary importance. The request submitted by Libya embodied the exercise of a right that all Member States possessed.
The prolonged enforcement of sanctions in Libya had had a profound impact on that country and other States in the region, he said. Yet there was a new situation emerging in the Lockerbie case, as a result of recent decisions of the International Court of Justice. Cuba welcomed those judgments, which confirmed the jurisdiction of the United Nations chief
Security Council - 16 - Press Release SC/6491 Resumed 3864th Meeting (PM) 20 March 1998
juridical body in the Lockerbie case. Those judgments also placed the dispute in its proper perspective.
The Council had periodically reviewed the sanctions regime, he said. However, at the conclusion of its analyses, the Council had always reached the view that there was no agreement to remove the sanctions. There were many causes for the Council's failure to reach agreement on that subject. The lifting of sanctions had been held hostage to unilateral conditions imposed by some permanent members of the Council in order to restrict the right of some countries' rights to hold trials of their own nationals. Cuba believed that the sanctions must be lifted, and it rejected the imposition of sanctions for political reasons. His Government agreed that the incident at Lockerbie must be clarified to respond to legitimate concerns. There was a lack of consistency in what the Council did and the resolutions it adopted. The role of the United Nations and the Council was not to serve as a tool of the powerful to further their political agenda.
SALIM BIN MOHAMMED AL-KHUSSAIBY (Oman) said his country firmly condemned all forms of terrorism and stood by the international community's efforts aimed at eliminating that dangerous phenomenon, which targeted the lives of innocent people. The security and safety of civilians was of paramount importance.
He said the international community expressed its deep grief and sympathy towards the victims of the tragic event which occurred at Lockerbie. The Arab League had expressed its firm readiness to cooperate with the Secretary-General and the Security Council to bring a peaceful solution to the crisis by mandating a committee to prevent an escalation of the crisis and find a just and peaceful solution to it in accordance with international law. Other regional groups, such as the OAU, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organization of the Islamic Conference had also supported the position of the Arab League and shown similar concern towards alleviating the humanitarian sufferings of the people as a result of the sanctions imposed against Libya.
He said that justice must be served for the families of the victims and in the achievement of a solution acceptable to all the parties concerned. Despite several initiatives to achieve a peaceful solution, the crisis continued with all its negative impact on the Libyan people, the families of the victims and the neighbouring countries. He commended Libya's readiness to combat terrorism and to attain a peaceful settlement through constructive dialogue and by ensuring the prosecution of the suspects before neutral and impartial tribunals.
The time had come for the Council to suspend its sanctions regime in light of the two judgments taken by the International Court of Justice, he said. Moreover, urgent consideration should be accorded to the humanitarian
Security Council - 17 - Press Release SC/6491 Resumed 3864th Meeting (PM) 20 March 1998
needs of the Libyan people to exercise, at this time, their religious rights and to receive medical treatment abroad. He also called upon all parties concerned to show more flexibility and wisdom to reach a just and peaceful settlement to the crisis.
HADI NEJAD-HOSSEINIAN (Iran) said his Government welcomed the judgments issued by the International Court of Justice regarding the Lockerbie incident. Those judgments concerned different interpretations of the Montreal Convention. The Court decided that it had jurisdiction over the case and that the application filed by Libya was admissible. Iran hoped that the judgments would lead to a peaceful solution to the crisis in a manner agreeable to all concerned. They also would hopefully lead to a lifting of the sanctions imposed on the Libyan people. The Court's decisions not only clarified the crux of the legal issue but would ultimately serve the interest of justice. They were an important step in upholding the authority of the Court and in strengthening the rule of law at the international level.
The views of the OAU, the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement were quite clear on the dispute between Libya and the United States and the United Kingdom, he said. Those organizations together comprised an overwhelming majority of the United Nations Member States. They had consistently adopted resolutions calling on Western States concerned to respond positively to the initiatives of Libya to reach a settlement on the basis of international law and through dialogue and understanding. The time had come to resolve the issue in a manner consistent with the rule of international law, so that justice would be served with respect for Libya's sovereignty.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said that in the wake of the procedural decisions of the International Court of Justice on 28 February, today's meting was an opportunity for the Council to reconsider the issue in all its aspects, with a view to finding a peaceful resolution of the dispute over the tragic Lockerbie incident in the best interests of all the parties concerned. Libya was not refusing to abide by the rules of international law. It simply wanted to ensure that the interest of its two nationals, accused of the crime, were safeguarded and, equally importantly, that its sovereign rights and dignity were respected.
Libya had made a number of concrete proposals to resolve the dispute, consistent with its obligations under international law, and particularly the Montreal Convention, he said. Unfortunately, those offers were not acceptable to the United States and the United Kingdom. The proposals by Libya were reasonable, constructive and pragmatic. As Libya had pointed out, the conduct of a trial away from the place where the alleged crime took place was not abnormal and had precedent in State practice, for the purpose of ensuring that the accused would have a free and fair trial in a neutral place. What was
Security Council - 18 - Press Release SC/6491 Resumed 3864th Meeting (PM) 20 March 1998
being asked in respect of the two accused Libyan nationals was an extension of that State practice and precedent to the international level. While unprecedented, it offered a practical way of resolving the dispute.
He said the Council should review its sanctions regime against Libya pending the final solution of the crisis through one of the above-mentioned modalities. That would ease the severity of the impact of the air embargo on the country's public health and social conditions by exempting flights for medical, humanitarian relief and religious purposes -- particularly in respect of the performance of the "Umrah" and obligatory Haj pilgrimages, which were important to Muslims and should not have been included in the sanctions regime in the first place. He urged the Council to carefully consider the report of the recent fact-finding mission to Libya in its continuing and periodic evaluation of the effects of the sanctions regime upon the Libyan people.
He said that the World Court decisions should pave the way for it to hear the dispute, so that the matter could be resolved in a peaceful manner, in the interests of all the parties concerned. The dispute had both legal and political dimensions, which required a mutually acceptable mechanism for their resolution. The mechanism provided by the World Court's decisions, or the modalities proposed by the OAU and the Arab League offered a judicious and practical way out of this diplomatic and legal quandary.
ALVARO FORERO (Colombia) said that the Ministers who had attended the Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement of countries last September expressed concern over the non-acceptance by the three Western countries of the regional and international appeals, with respect to the situation now being considered. The Ministers had only been concerned about the lack of recognition of the efforts to reach a peaceful settlement of the situation based on international law. They affirmed that the measures imposed against Libya were no longer justifiable and urged the Security Council to expeditiously review the air embargo, as well as the other measures, with a view to lifting them.
He said the Ministers had also stressed that exacerbation of the crisis, the threat of additional sanctions and the use of force as a means of conducting relations among States violated the Charter, as well as the principles of the Non-Aligned Movement. They reiterated their support for the joint proposals of the OAU and the Arab League and called for refraining from the imposition of sanctions in the absence of a real threat to international peace and security and before all other peaceful means for settling the dispute had been exhausted. They also opposed measures in the economic, financial, transportation and communication spheres, given their serious and inhumane effects on innocent people.
Security Council - 19 - Press Release SC/6491 Resumed 3864th Meeting (PM) 20 March 1998
In the current circumstances, it was pertinent to reflect again on the issue of sanctions, given the gravity of their humanitarian consequences, he said. The imposition of sanctions could not be for the purpose of punishing the civilian population of the target country, and they should not be prolonged indefinitely. Sanctions without time-limits tended to create unwanted humanitarian emergencies and were incompatible with the principles of the United Nations Charter.
SAMIR MOUBARAK (Lebanon) said the Council was examining an issue that affected the security and interests of an entire people and affected international peace and security. It also had a bearing on the suffering of the families of the innocent victims who lost their lives in the Lockerbie tragedy. The dispute involving Libya had nothing to do with the enforcement of justice. Rather, it involved a dispute on the legal aspects of a case. If the State in question had refused to bend to international norms, then thought could be given to appropriate measures to ensure that justice was done. Libya, however, had stated that it was ready to enforce the law and to see justice done, according to the Montreal Convention.
Sanctions should be the last recourse in any situation, after all the peaceful means of settling disputes were exhausted, he said. There was burning desire in most of the international community to view sanctions as an exceptional tool. Several regional organizations had expressed the need for the sanctions imposed against Libya to be examined. The World Court's recent decision embodied international conceptions of law and should lead to a settlement of the dispute.
ALOUNKEO KITTIKHOUN (Lao's People's Democratic Republic) said his Government invited the countries involved in the dispute to take notice of the new situation which had recently emerged as a result of the World Court's decision to become seized of the matter. It was important to recognize the enormous suffering that the Libyan people must endure because of the sanctions imposed against their country. A just conclusion acceptable to all the parties must be found as soon as possible.
The matter had gone on for too long and the Libyan people had suffered too much, he said. It was impossible to disregard that suffering. His Government appealed to the parties concerned to open a sincere and direct dialogue so as to resolve the matter as expeditiously as possible. It ardently aspired to see international conflict, however complex, resolved through negotiations. In a new era of international cooperation, it was possible that the parties would arrive at a solution that could contribute to reducing tensions in the region and promote international peace and security.
* *** *