27 Feb Security Council Refers the Situation in Libya to the ICC
The referral is part of a larger set of sanctions against Libya. From the UN News Centre:
The Security Council today voted unanimously to impose sanctions against the Libyan authorities, slapping the country with an arms embargo and freezing the assets of its leaders, while referring the ongoing violent repression of civilian demonstrators to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In its Resolution 1970, the Council obligated all United Nations Member States to “freeze without delay all funds, other financial assets and economic resources which are on their territories, which are owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the individuals or entities” listed in resolution.
The Council imposed a travel ban on President Muammar Al-Qadhafi and other senior figures in his administration, including some members of his family and other relatives.
“All Member States shall immediately take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, from or through their territories or by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and related material of all types, including weapons and ammunition,” according to the arms embargo clause of the resolution.
The arms embargo also prohibits Libya from exporting all arms and related materiel, and obligates UN Member States to prevent the procurement of such items from Libya by their nationals.
The Council directed the Libyan authorities to cooperate fully with the ICC in its investigations of the situation in Libya since 15 February 2011, while recognizing that the country is not party to the Rome Statute that created the Court.
In their resolution, members of the Council said that they considered that the “widespread and systematic attacks currently taking place in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity.”
The Council demanded an immediate end to the violence and called for steps to fulfil “the legitimate demands of the population.” It called upon the Libyan authorities to ensure the safety of all foreign nationals and their assets, and to facilitate the departure of those wishing to leave the country
This is the second Security Council referral, but the first — as Bill Schabas notes — that the United States has openly supported; the U.S. abstained from the vote to refer the situation in Darfur.
It will be interesting to see what critics of the ICC say about the referral. Conservatives in the U.S. like to complain that ICC investigations undermine peace negotiations and provide dictators with an incentive not to relinquish power; our own Julian has argued precisely that with regard to Darfur. Will they take the same position regarding Libya? And what about the African and Arab states that have so assiduously criticized the ICC for targeting Africa and for supposedly preventing local justice mechanisms from addressing the crimes committed in Kenya and Darfur? Will they criticize the Libya investigation on the same grounds?
As readers know, I’m troubled by the extent to which the ICC has focused on Africa. But this is a Security Council resolution, and all three African countries on the Security Council — Gabon, Nigeria, and South Africa — voted in favor of the referral. (South Africa’s vote is particularly interesting, given that it has supported deferring the ICC’s investigation in Kenya, much to the consternation of Max du Plessis and Christopher Gevers). More importantly, though, the referral seems a wholly appropriate response to the unconscionable violence perpetrated by Gaddafi and his henchmen against Libya’s civilian population. (In case anyone’s wondering, bombing civilians is indeed a crime against humanity.) I’d like nothing more than to see Gaddafi end up in the dock at the ICC.
UPDATE: The full text of the resolution is available here.