After Much Wrangling, General Assembly Seats National Transitional Council of Libya as Country’s Representative for Sixty-Sixth Session

16 September 2011
GA/11137

After Much Wrangling, General Assembly Seats National Transitional Council of Libya as Country’s Representative for Sixty-Sixth Session

16 September 2011
General Assembly
GA/11137
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

Plenary

2ndMeeting (AM)

After Much Wrangling, General Assembly Seats National Transitional Council

 

of Libya as Country’s Representative for Sixty-Sixth Session

 

Adopts Work Programme and Agenda, Sets Start of General Debate

For Wednesday, 21 September, Conclusion of Main Part of Session, 13 December

The United Nations General Assembly this morning adopted the agenda for its sixty-sixth session during a meeting which required two recorded votes to allow representatives of Libya’s National Transitional Council to stand for the strife-torn North African country in the world body’s work for the coming year.

A motion to defer action on a draft resolution contained in the report of the Credentials Committee on acceptance of the credentials of representatives of Member States was defeated by a recorded vote of 107 against to 22 in favour, with 12 abstentions.  Earlier this week, the Credentials Committee recommended that the National Transitional Council, formed this past February in the wake of popular protests against Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi’s Government, represent Libya in the General Assembly — speaking and voting on its behalf.

Putting forward the motion to defer the matter, the representative of Angola, on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), questioned the “process, legality and principle” of the Credentials Committee’s decision to recognize the transitional body.  The United Nations should remain an Organization of principles governed by rule of law, he said, and as such, the General Assembly’s rules and procedures should not be disregarded merely because it was expedient.

To that end, Assembly rules advise that credentials should be presented to the Secretary-General by a Head of State, Head of Government, or Foreign Affairs Minister, he explained.  In the case of Libya, it was necessary for delegations to ask:  “Who presented and signed the credentials accepted by the Credentials Committee [and] was such signature in line with rules of the Assembly?”

Notwithstanding the fact that the National Transitional Council was in control, it was not the Government in Libya, interim or otherwise, he said, adding:  “Let me be clear:  a unity Government has not been formed.”  The African Union Peace and Security Council planned to meet on the margins of the Assembly’s general debate to decide Libya’s representation in the African Union.

Several others, including the representatives of Venezuela and Cuba, backed the motion, voicing strong opposition to recognizing the transitional authorities.  Those delegations denounced what they saw as attempts to transform Libya into a protectorate of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or the Security Council.  Bolivia’s delegate said the National Transitional Council was not a unified body and there was “still a big question mark” concerning its make-up.  Within Libya were deep divisions over those who supported the former regime and those who supported the opposition, he said.

Yet, the representative of Egypt called for the motion to be rejected, saying that, as Libya’s immediate neighbour, Egypt had been the best witness of the “most horrifying times” experienced by the Libyan people as a result of a repressive regime that had ruled that country for 40 years.  The international community had been at the forefront of the efforts to support the aspirations of the Libyan people.  Security Council resolutions had been adopted stating the expressed need to protect the Libyan people from Qadhafi and his cronies.

That was why the Credentials Committee had voted as it had, approving the Transitional National Council as the only representative of Libya, he said, urging the international community not to impede the legitimacy of the Libyan people.  Now was “the moment of truth” for all those that had supported the National Transitional Council to do so without question.  Arguing against the Transitional Council would only prolong the suffering and obstruct the will of the Libyan people.

The Assembly then went on to approve report of the Credentials Committee, adopting the draft resolution contained therein by a recorded vote of 114 in favour to 17 against, with 15 abstentions (Annex II).

In other business, the General Assembly, approved the work programme of its sixty-sixth session, also acting on the report of its General Committee.  Among the topics to be considered during the session are a number of new agenda items, including “People’s empowerment and a peace-centric development model”, which would be taken up by the Second Committee (Economic and Financial).  The 193-member body was also set to consider, among others, “The law of transboundary aquifers” and the “central role of the United Nations in the global governance system”.

With the adoption of its work programme and agenda (document A/66/250), the Assembly decided that its current session would recess on Tuesday, 13 December 2011, and close on Monday, 17 September 2012.  It further decided that its general debate would be held from Wednesday, 21 September, and continue until Saturday, 24 September, and from Monday, 26 September to Tuesday, 27 September.

The Assembly also set the meeting schedule for its Main Committees.  During the main part of the session, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) would complete its work by Tuesday, 1 November; the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) by Wednesday, 23 November; Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) by Tuesday 22 November; the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) by Thursday, 10 November; the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) by Friday, 9 December; the Sixth Committee (Legal) by Thursday, 10 November.

Armenia’s representative took the floor to disassociate his delegation from the Assembly’s decision to include in its sixty-sixth session agenda item 39, on “the situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan”.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Monday, 19 September, to convene a high-level meeting on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases.

Consideration of Report of Credentials Committee

The representative of Venezuelasaid that in a 9 September special declaration, his Government had rejected the occupation of Libya’s United Nations seat by a faction or an illegitimate transitory authority imposed by foreign intervention.  That declaration rejected in the strongest terms any attempt to transform Libya into a protectorate of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or the Security Council.  It also denounced the military operation carried out to change Libya’s regime by manipulating the United Nations in line with its own geopolitical and economic interests, and in violation of Council resolution 1973 (2011).

The Assembly, he said, was now asked to recognize a group working under the guidance of the United States Government and NATO, which had no legal or moral authority to decide who should govern a nation.  NATO’s belligerent conduct violated the principles of sovereignty and non-intervention in the internal affairs of a State.  It also represented an act of aggression, which negated any humanitarian purpose.  The perpetrators of those crimes must be brought to the International Criminal Court.  The Assembly’s recognition of the National Transitional Council as Libya’s Government represented an “abominable precedent” that violated the most elementary principles of international law.

The representative of Cuba recalled that foreign intervention and military aggression carried out by NATO had actually worsened the conflict in Libya and had hampered the people of that nation from moving towards reconciliation and self-determination.  Cuba and other nations had asked the Security Council to adopt measures that would allow for a negotiated political solution without foreign intervention.  That had not been possible because NATO had proceeded with its intervention under the guise of a “preventive war” but which in reality had been driven by self-interest and the economic concerns of powerful countries.

Cuba did not recognize the groups that had been ushered to the fore by NATO forces and would only recognize representatives of a Government that had been set up, not by the assistance of foreign intervention, but by the will of the Libyan people.  Everyone was aware that under the “clumsy guise” of protecting civilians, NATO had taken upon itself to effect a regime change that had actually killed and wounded thousands of innocent men, women and children.  It had also obstructed the efforts of the African Union and other regional groups to bring the conflict to a negotiated conclusion.  Cuba would reiterate its call for an immediate ceasefire and an end to NATO bombings.  In addition, it would reiterate the need for the Libyan people to be allowed to freely secure self-determination and the sovereignty of their own country, without foreign intervention and thinly veiled attempts to gain control of the country’s natural resources.

The representative of Bolivia said the United Nations had been manipulated into a foreign, armed intervention in Libya.  But the Libyan people, who continued to suffer, had not had the opportunity to express their opinions and set up their own legitimate Government representing their interests.  Bolivia could not recognize the National Transitional Council, which had characteristics questioned by Bolivia.  He expressed worries over the wave of racism and human rights violations against black civilian Libyans thought to be mercenaries.  The fact that officials and sectors of the deposed Libyan Government were being incorporated into the new Government also called into question the possibility for real change in Libya.

He said the National Transitional Council was not a unified body and there was still a big question mark concerning its make-up.  The decision to send NATO planes had set a dangerous precedent of a Government being overthrown by foreign military intervention.  Within Libya there were deep divisions over those who supported the former regime and those who supported the opposition.  Libya’s territorial integrity could be jeopardized as a result of foreign intervention.  Oil also played an important role in that regard, as those intervening in Libya had very specific geopolitical and economic interests.

The representative of Nicaragua said free determination in Libya must be exercised by the Libyan people and not by NATO.  Revolutions must be authentic, and not imposed by a proxy or seized by a group of States with clear hegemonic interests.  She denounced and condemned those States that were violating the Charter and Council resolution 1973 (2011).  She denounced the NATO bombings and demanded that the Alliance immediately end all military intervention in Libya.  She strongly called for respecting the African Union’s role and for supporting its initiative to achieve an end to hostilities and begin a dialogue in Libya without foreign intervention.  She rejected occupation of Libya’s seat during the Assembly’s sixty-sixth session by a faction imposed by NATO commanders.

The representative of Angola, speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said his delegation had questions of process, legality and principle, which it would raise in connection with the report of the Credentials Committee.  The delegation firmly believed that the United Nations should remain an Organization of principles governed by rule of law.  As such, rules and procedures adopted by the General Assembly should not be disregarded merely because it was expedient.

He went on to say that the African Union Ad Hoc Committee on Libya had indicated the steps it felt were necessary to be fulfilled in respect of Libya and its representation.  In none of its decisions had the African Union indicated that it opposed the National Transitional Council.  Yet, the Union had been insistent on the need for an all-inclusive Government that would ensure that Libya moved towards a brighter future.  The Ad Hoc Committee had indicated its willingness to assist Libya in any way towards that goal.  The African Union Peace and Security Council would meet on the margins of the Assembly’s general debate to decide on Libya’s representation in the African Union.

“Let me be clear:  a unity Government has not been formed, and the National Transitional Council had committed itself to doing so and crafting a new constitution and a free Libya,” he continued.  Notwithstanding the fact that it was in control, the National Transitional Council was not the Government in Libya, interim or otherwise.  Moreover, General Assembly rules indicated that credentials should be presented by a Head of State, Head of Government or foreign minister.  In the case of Libya, it was necessary for the Assembly to ask: “Who presented and signed the credentials accepted by the Credentials Committee [and] was such signature in line with rules of the Assembly?”.  With that, he moved that the matter be deferred pending further consideration.

Speaking against that motion, the representative of Egypt said that as Libya’s immediate neighbour, his country had been the best witness of the “most horrifying times” the Libyan people had suffered as a result of a repressive regime that had ruled that country for 40 years.  The international community had been at the forefront of the efforts to support the aspirations of the Libyan people.  Security Council resolutions had been adopted stating the expressed need to protect the Libyan people from Qadhafi and his cronies.  That was why the Credentials Committee had voted as it had, approving the National Transitional Council as the only representative of Libya.

He said that the international community should not impede the legitimacy of the Libyan people.  Now was “the moment of truth” for all those that had supported the National Transitional Council to do so without question.  Arguing against the National Transitional Council would only prolong the suffering of the Libyan people.  In addition, some 19 States had supported the National Transitional Council as representing the Libyan people.  Those representatives could represent Libya in the African Union, the League of Arab States, the General Assembly and other international forums.  Moreover, Egypt was not convinced that at present there was any other legitimate option, and it opposed the attempt to defer the matter of Libya’s representation.  He urged delegations to adopt the report.

Following that statement, the representative of Zambia asked for the item to be postponed.  As noted by the representative of Angola, the African Union Heads of State had begun a process aimed at resolving the issue on 19 September.  He voiced his support for the Angolan representative’s request to delay consideration of the item.

The representative of Gabon noted the social upheavals that had occurred since the beginning of the Arab Spring and the unanimous condemnation of Libya.  The National Transitional Council was supporting the Libyan people and it had been recognized as a legitimate authority representing Libya’s national interests.  It was necessary to act quickly and in a coordinated way, and to avoid confusion at the United Nations, through the establishment of a Libyan delegation here.  The divisions in the Assembly Hall were unnecessary.  For those reasons, and as an African State, Gabon did not support the motion to defer action.  He called on all those “wishing to take care of the Libyan people” to oppose the motion.

Next, the representative of Senegal said the General Assembly would be “very correct” in adopting credentials for the National Transitional Council.  The international community must consider the current humanitarian situation in Libya. The role of the United Nations was to ensure that people of all countries were spared harsh conditions and allowed to live in freedom.  The National Transitional Council had taken enormous efforts to improve the situation in that country and those efforts must be recognized.  He voiced his support for the statement made by Egypt’s delegate.

Taking the floor a second time, the representative of Venezuela expressed his delegation’s support for the recommendation made by Angola on behalf of the SADC.

The motion to defer action on the draft resolution of the Credentials Committee on acceptance of the credentials of representatives of Member States was defeated by a recorded vote of 107 against to 22 in favour, with 12 abstentions.  (See Annex I.)

Explaining his position, the representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines said the situation in Libya had been fast-moving, fluid and yet to stabilize.  Military action in Libya continued today.  Given the uncertainty on the ground and the lack of a report on recent developments, there was insufficient factual data to extend recognition to the National Transitional Council.  No State in his subregion had had time to elaborate policy on the matter.  The current recommendation by the Credentials Committee was premature.  The existence of a functioning national Government in Libya was an open question.  The United Nations should not attempt to subject the struggles of the Libyan people to the strictures of the Organization’s calendar.  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines would abstain from the vote.

Turning next to the report of the Credentials Committee, the Assembly adopted the draft resolution contained therein by a recorded vote of 114 in favour to 17 against, with 15 abstentions (Annex II).

Speaking after the vote, the representative of Equatorial Guinea said his country, as current President of the African Union, had spared no effort in seeking coordination and harmonization of the Union’s work and activities with the General Assembly.  Unfortunately, “some initiatives escaped our control”.  He made clear that the African Union had always supported the Libyan people and had emphasized that it would assist the transitional authorities.

He said that the African Union had never said that it would not recognize those authorities.  The Union had continually stressed that it would work with all Libyans to form an inclusive Government.  However, it would have preferred, at the level of its Peace and Security Council, to discuss the matter of Libya’s representation and take a decision on it as soon as possible.  As it had been not possible to do so ahead of today’s meeting, it had voted against the resolution today.

Kenya’s representative condemned the use of violence against innocent civilians and favoured inclusion of a political process towards free and fair elections.  Kenya was willing to work with the Libyans to achieve a political solution, which could only be realized through mutually reinforcing political objectives.  Given that the situation was still evolving in Libya, Kenya would maintain its position until an effective, democratic Government was formed, and law and order was restored.

The representative of Chad said that since his country was a neighbour of Libya, the Chadian Government was available to work with the National Transitional Council, “which, let’s be clear, has the fate of Libya in its hands”.  For those who wished to see an end to the Libya of the past, it was necessary to support the Libya of tomorrow.  Also necessary was to accept the idea of reconciliation around the National Transitional Council, which had pledged to establish an all-inclusive Government.  Chad supported the efforts of that Council to ensure the rule of law and democracy.  Yet, the representative hoped the Libya of tomorrow would be peaceful, stable and free of mercenaries.  His delegation had voted in favour of the resolution.

The representative of Iran said his delegation also had supported the resolution.  As a nation that had ousted a dictator some 30 years ago, Iran had always supported just struggles against dictatorship, and it would always support the just struggle of peoples to form national Governments of their own and oppose foreign interference in such matters.  Such intervention was “counterproductive” as it only made matters more confusing and complex.  He hoped that with the end of the NATO intervention, which had already killed and injured countless people and destroyed essential Libyan infrastructure, the Libyan people would be able to pursue a Government of their own choosing.

ANNEX I

Vote on Deferring Action on Credentials Committee Draft Resolution

The motion to defer action on the draft resolution of the Credentials Committee on acceptance of the credentials of representatives of Member States was rejected by a recorded vote of 107 against to 22 in favour, with 12 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Angola, Bolivia, Congo, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Namibia, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:  Afghanistan, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Yemen.

Abstain:  Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Botswana, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Mauritania, Mexico, Myanmar, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago.

Absent:  Albania, Algeria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Bhutan, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Comoros, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Dominica, Eritrea, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mozambique, Nauru, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Syria, Tajikistan, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam.

ANNEX II

Vote on Acceptance of Credentials of Representatives of Member States

The draft resolution contained in the report of the Credentials Committee on acceptance of the credentials of representatives of Member States was adopted by a recorded vote of 114 in favour to 17 against, with 15 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Switzerland, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Yemen.

Against:  Angola, Bolivia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Nicaragua, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Abstain:  Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Cameroon, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Indonesia, Mali, Mauritania, Nepal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Uruguay.

Absent:  Albania, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Bhutan, Burundi, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Dominica, Eritrea, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Liberia, Libya, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mozambique, Myanmar, Nauru, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Tajikistan, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.