UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday urged the UN Security Council to take "concrete action" to protect civilians in Libya and warned that any delay will mean more loss of life.
Ban urged the council at the start of a meeting to consider possible sanctions against Muammar Gaddafi's regime to look at a wide range of actions, including trade and financial sanctions, travel bans, an arms embargo, and measures to protect human rights.
'Libya announces increase in wages, food
subsidies'Editor's Notes: A mass expression of outrage against
He said "the violence must stop" and those responsible for the violence must be punished.
The secretary-general said he plans to travel to Washington on Monday to discuss the Libyan crisis with US President Barack Obama.
Governments around the world sharply condemned Libya's crackdown against
opposition protesters Friday, calling for a probe into possible crimes
against humanity and recommending the country's suspension from the UN's
top human rights body.
The unanimous decision at the end of a
daylong emergency meeting of the UN Human Rights Council was
dramatically preceded by the public defection of all Libyan diplomats in
Geneva to the opposition — swelling the rebellion of Libyan officials
around the globe.
hours Friday, senior Libyan diplomats in Portugal, France, Sweden and
at the UN's cultural and education organization UNESCO announced their
rejection of Gaddafi's regime.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, meanwhile, called on Gaddafi to relinquish power after more than four decades.
UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights warned that the mass killings
in Libya, possibly of thousands, required the world to "step in
vigorously" and immediately end the government's brutal suppression of
protests in the North African country.
"The crackdown in Libya of
peaceful demonstrations is escalating alarmingly with reported mass
killings, arbitrary arrests, detention and torture of protesters," UN
rights chief Navi Pillay told the 47-nation council. "Tanks, helicopters
and military aircraft have reportedly been used indiscriminately to
attack the protesters. According to some sources, thousands may have
been killed or injured."
Overcoming initial resistance from some
African and Asian countries, the Geneva-based council seized the growing
swell of international anger against Gadhafi's regime to unanimously
condemn "the recent gross and systematic human rights violations
committed in Libya."
Council members slammed Libya for its
"indiscriminate armed attacks against civilians, extrajudicial killings,
arbitrary arrests, detention and torture of peaceful demonstrators,
some of which may also amount to crimes against humanity."
an unprecedented move against one of its own members, they also called
for Libya's ouster from the council. That decision has to be approved by
a two-thirds majority in the 192-nation U.N. General Assembly, which is
expected to meet on the matter next week.
But the most
unexpected moment of the day came when a senior diplomat with the Libyan
delegation to the UN in Geneva took the floor, asking for a moment of
silence to "honor this revolution" — and then informed the council that
his entire diplomatic mission was quitting the government. Council
members gave them a standing ovation.
"The young people in my
country today, 100 years after the Italian fascist invasion, are today
with their blood writing a new chapter in the history of struggle and
resistance," Adel Shaltut told the chamber.
"We in the Libyan
mission have categorically decided to serve as representatives of the
Libyan people and their free will. We only represent the Libyan people,"
Gaddafi, who has ruled Libya for 42 years, now appears
to have lost control of large parts of the country, as well as any
previous support he might have had in the international community.
urged him to step down, demanding during a visit to Turkey that Gaddafi
"must go," and calling for an investigation into the violence and
sanctions against the regime.
British Prime Minister David
Cameron told reporters the world would hold Gaddafi and his supporters
to account for the bloodshed. "International justice has a long reach
and a long memory," he said.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
issued the Kremlin's strongest criticism yet of Libya, saying Libya must
not be allowed any "further exacerbation of the situation, the
destruction of the civilian population."
The UN Security Council also planned to meet later Friday in New York to consider actions against Libya.
Brussels, NATO held an emergency meeting Friday on the deteriorating
situation in Libya but took no action. Its chief said it had no plans to
In Geneva, even those countries traditionally hostile
toward criticism of human rights abuses dropped all pretense at
supporting Gaddafi and swung their moral weight behind the protesters.
ambassador, Zamir Akram, speaking for the 57 members of the
Organization of the Islamic Conference, said "Muslims will no longer
tolerate inequalities and injustice."
"A new dawn has come," he
told the council. "The rules of the game have changed. Those who do not
embrace it will be swept away."