Secretary-General, at Paris Meeting on Libya, Urges Speedy, Decisive Action While Spelling Out Difficult Questions Facing International Community

21 March 2011

Secretary-General, at Paris Meeting on Libya, Urges Speedy, Decisive Action While Spelling Out Difficult Questions Facing International Community

21 March 2011
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General, at Paris Meeting on Libya, Urges Speedy, Decisive Action

While Spelling Out Difficult Questions Facing International Community


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the meeting on Libya in Paris on 19 March:

Two days ago, the Security Council took an historic decision.  Resolution 1973 (2011) affirms, unequivocally, the international community’s determination to fulfil its responsibility to protect civilians from violence perpetrated upon them by their own Government.  In adopting this resolution, the Security Council placed great importance on the appeal of the League of Arab States for action.

Given the critical situation on the ground, it is imperative that we continue to act with speed and decision.  I assure you that the United Nations system will carry out these responsibilities and work closely with Member States and regional organizations to coordinate a common, effective and timely response.  I look forward to being kept informed as further implementing steps are being taken by your Governments.

Last night, the Libyan Prime Minister urgently called me, saying that they will strictly abide by resolution 1973 (2011).  He asked me to intervene to stop military action on the part of the international community.  Frankly, he sounded rather desperate.  It is not clear what they are doing.  He called for organizing a monitoring team to observe the ceasefire.  The Libyan claim has to be verified.  There is no doubt the Libyans are trying hard to ward off military action under 1973 (2011).

I have spoken with the Foreign Minister of Libya several times to urge the Government to stop the violence and cease fire immediately.  My Special Envoy to Libya, Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, visited Tripoli this past Sunday.  He was accompanied by the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator.

Both in Tripoli and Cairo, the Special-Envoy stressed the need for a firm and unambiguous commitment on the part of the Libyan Government to abide by the Security Council resolutions, including an immediate cessation of hostilities.

They saw worrisome signs, including threats and incitement against the armed opposition.  Libyan and foreign journalists continue to be arrested.  The humanitarian situation that the United Nations team witnessed was troubling, even on journeys accompanied by the Libyan authorities.  In the city centre of Zawiyah, the team saw dozens of destroyed buildings.

In light of all this, the Special Envoy has informed the Government of Libya of the UN’s intention to create an independent, international commission of inquiry that will investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law in Libya, identify those responsible, make recommendations and report to the Human Rights Council at its seventeenth session.

Let me emphasize here what I have said repeatedly in my public statements:  Many of the acts we are witnessing appear to constitute crimes against humanity, punishable under international law.  We must hold the perpetrators accountable.

In conclusion, I join the Security Council in calling for an immediate ceasefire by the Libyan authorities, along with a complete dismantling of their military deployments of both armed forces, as well as heavy weaponry around the major cities of Libya so that the people can go around their normal business without fear or insecurity.

Prompt access to humanitarian agencies and facilitation of return or repatriation of migrant workers and others seeking to leave the country should also be assured.  My Special Envoy will work with all concerned in pursuit of these immediate objectives.  He will also work along the diplomatic path.

Since this is an interactive debate, I would like to put forward some of the many difficult questions I think we face:

On the political front, my Special Envoy will be meeting with members of the opposition on Monday.  Beyond that, what should be the next steps?

On the humanitarian front, building on the first visit by my Humanitarian Coordinator, how can we carry out an in-depth assessment of the situation on the ground?

Finally, on the impunity front, I have stated several times that those who have committed crimes will have to be responsible for their actions.  How can we ensure that those responsible for grave violations of human rights will be held accountable?

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