11 November 2014 – Security Council – Libya/ICC – Statement by Mr Philippe Bertoux, Political Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations
I thank Prosecutor Bensouda for her report and her briefing. I wish to take this opportunity to reaffirm our full support to her and to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
There have been moments in history when the Council has united to prevent or stop atrocities that, in the terms of the Rome Statute, “shock the conscience of humanity”. The announcement in February 2011 by the Libyan regime itself that it was preparing a bloodbath triggered such unity. The adoption of resolution 1970 (2011) was one of those historic moments here in the Security Council. There have been others since, with the adoption of texts on the Central African Republic and with the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham.
When we review the implementation of resolution 1970 (2011), there is a question that remains, by its very nature, unanswered: how many lives were able to be saved? Thousands, without a doubt, and history must give credit for that to a unanimous Security Council, to the United Nations and to the International Criminal Court.
However, did we solve everything? No. Libya is going through a transition, with its difficulties and uncertainties. Violent acts continue. Instability persists. But despite the catastrophic legacy of the Al-Qadhafi regime, Libyans must show determination and must continue to come together around a shared political project to bring the democratic transition to fruition. The Council has mobilized to help them to do so. Bernardino León has been appointed by the Secretary-General to assist the political process.
In that regard, we are concerned about the consequences of the decision taken on 6 November by the Supreme Court invalidating the election results of 25 June. We believe it is essential that an inclusive political dialogue be initiated without delay, as the Libyan crisis can be solvedb only by political means. There is an urgent need to establish a Government of national unity that can quickly return to Tripoli. We stand ready to use individual sanctions as provided for by resolution 2174 (2014) to target those who obstruct the political transition. The designation of Ansar Al-Sharia as a terrorist organization is also part of this political context, aimed at separating terrorists away from the moderate Islamists, who do have a role to play on the political stage.
Libya’s cooperation with the International Criminal Court is crucial to end the era of impunity in the country, which emerged from 42 years of dictatorship in 2011. How can we prevent armed groups continuing their abuses if they feel free to act without consequences? Libya, despite its difficulties, requested to try the Saif Al-Islam Al-Qadhafi and the Abdullah Al-Senussi cases in its own courts, in accordance with the Rome Statute and resolution 1970 (2011). The Court, as the sole competent authority in this matter, declared itself competent to try Mr. Saif Al-Islam Al-Qadhafi and called for his delivery to the Court. It found the case The Prosecutor against Mr. Abdullah Senussi” inadmissible and thereby granted Libya’s request to try the accused.
Libya, pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011), must comply with the judges’ decision. Compliance by Libya with its international obligations is a key indicator of its commitment to the rule of law. There is no competition between national justice systems and the International Criminal Court, be it in Libya or elsewhere, but a principle of complementarity. Libya has obligations under resolution 1970 (2011), the Council has requested it to comply therewith, it is as simple as that.
Regarding the other abuses, as Ms. Bensouda recalled, the signing of a memorandum of understanding on burden-sharing between the Court and the Libyan authorities represents an innovative and positive approach. We must continue on this path despite the current crisis, which has slowed efforts significantly.
The challenges are immense. We must make shed light on alleged crimes, such as those committed in Misrata and Taourga during the armed conflict of 2011 and in Bani Walid in 2012. We regret, in that regard, that the return of communities of Taouerga to their villages remains to be achieved.
Finally, we express our deep concern at the use of torture and at the deaths in detention centres under the control of armed brigades in Libya. There remain some 7,000 illegal detainees, including children. These practices must stop. Like the Prosecutor, we encourage the Libyan authorities to implement the law passed in April 2013 that criminalized torture, forced disappearances and discrimination. Armed groups must recall that the fight against impunity also applies to them.
As I said at the outset, resolution 1970 (2011) continues to serve as an example of how the Security Council can take swift and united action. Faced with the abuses committed by the Libyan leadership at the time, the United Nations and regional organizations were united in their condemnation of the atrocities. For its part, the International Criminal Court was central to the process of isolating the criminals, regardless of their rank and regardless of their side.
Today, we must ensure the follow-up to these steps. The fight against impunity requires both the full cooperation of Libya with the Court, the improvement of the security situation, full consideration by the Secretariat and the Mission to Support the United Nations in Libya, and the activities of the Prosecutor