UNSC draft: May be 'crimes against humanity' in Libya

Security Council draft resolution calls for arms embargo against Libya , travel bans, possible ICC prosecution; Ban urges "concrete action."

UN Security Council 311 (photo credit: courtesy)
UN Security Council 311
(photo credit: courtesy)
A UN Security Council draft resolution circulated council members on Friday says attacks against Libyan civilians may be "crimes against humanity."
The draft resolution, penned by France and Britain said that crimes committed in Libya may warrant prosecution by the International Criminal Court in the Hague. The draft also called for an arms embargo against Tripoli, for 23 of its top leaders to have their assets frozen and for travel bans placed against them.
RELATED:'Libya announces increase in wages, food subsidies'Editor's Notes: A mass expression of outrage against injusticeThe six-page text said that "the widespread and systematic attacks currently taking place in Libya against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity."
The draft resolution called for "Libyan authorities" to put an immediate end to the violence in the North African country, but did not mention leader Muammar Gaddafi by name, although an annex to it listed Gaddafi, his children, inner circle and top security and military officials.
Under pressure from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to take "concrete action" to protect civilians, the council decided to meet again Saturday to discuss options. Brazil's UN Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, the current council president, said "there is a possibility" a sanctions resolution could be adopted.
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.
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.
Within 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.
The 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."
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In 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 UN 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," he said.
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.
Sarkozy 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."
In 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 intervene.
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.
Pakistan's 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."