The 15 member United Nations Security Council met Saturday in an urgent session to discuss a draft resolution that would impose sanctions against Libya as well as refer Colonel Moammar Gaddafi and others in his regime to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague to investigate possible crimes against humanity.
The sanctions, which were drafted by France and Britain, call for an arms embargo, asset freeze, and a travel ban.
By late afternoon, diplomats said there was broad support for the sanctions, but disagreement over whether to refer Gaddafi to the ICC.
As Reuters reports:
It was unclear whether the call for an immediate ICC referral would be cut to get unanimous agreement on the draft’s other punitive steps.
In an attempt to break the deadlock, Libya’s U.N. delegation, which has denounced Gaddafi, sent a letter to the president of the Security Council, Brazilian U.N. Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, confirming its support for an immediate ICC referral.
Libyan U.N. Ambassador Abdurrahman Shalgam wrote to Viotti that his mission “supports the measures proposed in the draft resolution to hold to account those responsible for the armed attacks against the Libyan civilians, including through the International Criminal Court.”
The council has referred only one other case to the ICC — the conflict in Sudan’s western Darfur region. The court has indicted Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide and other crimes against humanity in Darfur.
U.N. Secretary General ban ki-Moon addressed the Secuity Council on Friday and urged member to act swiftly. “In these circumstances, the loss of time means more loss of lives,” the Secretary General said. U.N. estimates put the number killed in Libya at over 1,000 in less than two weeks.
Not all countries are for the sanctions though. MSNBC reports that earlier Saturday, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking from the capital city of Ankara, urged the Security Council not to impose sanctions. His main concern: that the Libyan people, not the government, would suffer most. Turkey is not currently a member of the Security Council. And there were reports of concerns by Portugal that language in the draft referring to the ICC could endanger the Portuguese citizens who remain in Libya.
Erdogan also suggested the international community might be acting more out of concern about Libya’s oil reserves than about the welfare of its people.
“The people are already struggling to find food, how will you feed the Libyan people?” Erdogan asked. “Sanctions, an intervention, would force the Libyan people, who are already up against hunger and violence, into a more desperate situation.”
“We call on the international community to act with conscience, justice, laws and universal humane values — not out of oil concerns,” he said.
But German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron talked on the phone Saturday and agreed the Security Council should approve harsh sanctions against the Libyan regime as soon as possible, Merkel’s spokesman, Christoph Steegmans said in a statement.
Merkel and Cameron also favor European Union sanctions against Libya, he said.
Some, too, are concerned the sanctions won’t work. CNN interviewed Fouad Ajami of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Ajami noted that Gaddafi has survived sanctions once before, following the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
“The sanctions never worked,” he told CNN. “Anyone with money can break these sanctions.”
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