Saturday, February 26, 2011

Security Council Unanimously Refers Libya to the International Criminal Court!

Here's a quick follow-up to the item I posted earlier yesterday.

The United Nations Security Council, meeting at a special session in New York all day Saturday to discuss the crisis in Libya, has reportedly adopted a Chapter VII resolution imposing some tough sanctions on the Ghaddafi regime in Tripoli.

In what will undoubtedly garner much commentary among international criminal lawyers over the next little while, the Council, for the first time, also voted unanimously to refer a country (Libya) to the International Criminal Court. This is a major first step and victory for all those of us that are concerned about the need for justice in this situation.

Unlike the first Council referral, wherein the 15 states on the Council were highly divided on the propriety of the referral of Sudan to the ICC in March 2005, the lone expected opposition vote to the Libya referral from China did not materialize in this case. While, as I suggested in my post below, political support for this swift United Kingdom sponsored resolution was never a serious obstacle, this is not to say that some of the trademark politics was not involved. See here. As the text of the resolution is not yet available on the Security Council website, or anywhere else on the web as far as I could tell, one will have to await the beginning of next week to comment on its substance.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, has welcomed and commended the Council's "decisive action". He said that: "The text sends a strong message that gross violations of basic human rights will not be tolerated, and that those responsible for grave crimes will be held accountable. I hope the message is heard, and heeded, by the regime in Libya." See his statement here.

For additional breaking news reports summarizing the outcome of the Council's deliberations, see BBC News here and CNN here.

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