23 February 2010
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Crisis alert: The Responsibility to Protect in Libya
1. Special Advisors on the Prevention of Genocide and R2P condemn widespread and systematic attacks against civilian populations; fear crimes against humanity
2. UN Security Council issues press statement; recalls Libya’s responsibility to protect its population
3. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights –Pillay calls for international inquiry into Libyan violence and justice for victims
4. UN High Commissioners for Refugees fears for the safety of refugees caught in Libya’s violence
1. Global Centre for R2P – Open Statement on the situation in Libya
2. Urgent call from 24 NGOs to Stop Atrocities in Libya; Remind international community of RtoP
3. Human Rights Watch - Libya: Governments should demand end to unlawful killings
4. International Crisis Group - Immediate international steps needed to stop atrocities in Libya
5. Civicus – UN Must invoke “Responsibility to Protect” to prevent unlawful killings
6. Genocide Intervention Network – Mass Atrocities in Libya
Crisis Alert: The Responsibility to Protect in Libya
Political protests demanding an end to Muammar Gaddafi’s 41-year reign began on February 14, 2011 in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, and have since spread across the North African state. The government of Libya has responded forcefully by dispatching the national army to crush the unrest. Gaddafi, in a speech broadcasted on February 22, 2011, said he would rather die a martyr than to step down, and called on his supporters to attack and “cleanse Libya house by house” until protestors surrender.
International Crisis Group has reported that military aircrafts and forces are indiscriminately firing at civilians and that foreign mercenaries are being used to target and attack protestors, resulting in the deaths of over 300 people. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated on 21 February that he was shocked and disturbed by accounts that Libyan authorities fired on demonstrators, and declared that the attacks, serious violations of international humanitarian law, must stop immediately. UN experts have echoed the Secretary-General’s statement and have condemned Gaddafi’s massacre of his own people, demanded investigations into attacks, and stated that gross violations of human rights could amount to crimes against humanity.
The Arab League has discontinued the participation of the Libyan delegation in its conferences or meetings until violence has ended and the demands of the Libyan people are met while respecting their right to protect and their safety. In addition, the resignation of Libya’s Justice and Interior Ministers, as well as the defection of two senior Libyan fighter pilots to Malta refusing to obey orders to rain bombs on protestors in the city of Benghazi, show that Gaddafi is rapidly loosing support Al-Jazeera reported that diplomats at Libyan embassies in the US, the UN, the Arab League, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Poland, India and Bangladesh have either resigned or disavowed links to the government, and have declared that they stand with the protestors and called for international intervention Libya’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN stated that the crimes which have been committed are crimes against humanity and war crimes, and called for the UN to create a “no fly zone” and for the International Criminal Court to investigate Gaddafi for violations of international humanitarian law.
The indiscriminate and widespread use of force by Gaddafi’s government against the Libyan population has clearly turned this situation into one where human rights violations may constitute crimes against humanity, one of the crimes included in the RtoP framework. The Security Council, in a press statement, as well as the Special Advisors on the Prevention of Genocide and RtoP, in a press release, have reminded Libya of its responsibility to protect its population and called for an immediate end to the violence. Civil society all around the world have started calling on the UN, EU, AU and other world leaders to embrace their Responsibility to Protect Libyan citizens.The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect stated that the potential for continuing or even escalating atrocities was all too real and called on Member States to take immediate action to protect the population of Libya from mass atrocities. Recommendations include calls to impose sanctions on key regime members and an arms embargo; to establish a “no fly” zone over the entire country and establishing a commission of enquiry; and if necessary referring the situation in Libya to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
The articles below provide further analysis on the situation in Libya and more recommendations from civil society organizations.
1. UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect on the Situation in Libya
22 February 2011
Office of the Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide
As the Secretary-General's Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the responsibility to protect, we are alarmed by the reports of mass violence coming from the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. Widespread and systematic attacks against civilian populations by military forces, mercenaries, and aircraft are egregious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. If the reported nature and scale of such attacks are confirmed, they may well constitute crimes against humanity, for which national authorities should be held accountable.
We remind the national authorities in Libya, as well as in other countries facing large-scale popular protests, that the heads of State and Government at the 2005 World Summit pledged to protect populations by preventing genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity, as well as their incitement.
We join Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in urging all parties to exercise utmost restraint and to seek peaceful means of resolving their political differences.
See joint statement.
2. Security Council Press Statement on Libya
UN Department of Public Information
22 February 2010
The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti ( Brazil):
The members of the Security Council were briefed on the situation in Libya by B. Lynn Pascoe, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, and the Permanent Representative of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, whose Mission had requested a meeting of the Security Council.
The members of the Security Council welcomed the statement issued by the League of Arab States on 22 February 2011.
The members of the Security Council expressed grave concern at the situation in Libya. They condemned the violence and use of force against civilians, deplored the repression against peaceful demonstrators, and expressed deep regret at the deaths of hundreds of civilians. They called for an immediate end to the violence and for steps to address the legitimate demands of the population, including through national dialogue.
The members of the Security Council called on the Government of Libya to meet its responsibility to protect its population. They called upon the Libyan authorities to act with restraint, to respect human rights and international humanitarian law, and to allow immediate access for international human rights monitors and humanitarian agencies.
The members of the Security Council called for international humanitarian assistance to the people of Libya and expressed concern at the reports of shortages of medical supplies to treat the wounded. They strongly urged the Libyan authorities to ensure the safe passage of humanitarian and medical supplies and humanitarian workers into the country.
The members of the Security Council underlined the need for the Government of Libya to respect the freedom of peaceful assembly and of expression, including freedom of the press. They called for the immediate lifting of restrictions on all forms of the media.
The members of the Security Council stressed the importance of accountability. They underscored the need to hold to account those responsible for attacks, including by forces under their control, on civilians.
The members of the Security Council expressed deep concern about the safety of foreign nationals in Libya. They urged the Libyan authorities and all relevant parties to ensure the safety of all foreign nationals and facilitate the departure of those wishing to leave the country.
The members of the Security Council will continue to follow the situation closely.
See press release
3. Pillay calls for international inquiry into Libyan violence and justice for victims
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
22 February 2011
(…) UN human rights chief, Navi Pillay, on Tuesday called for immediate cessation of the grave human rights violations committed by Libyan authorities and urged an independent international investigation into the violent suppression of protests in the country. (…)
(…) “The callousness with which Libyan authorities and their hired guns are reportedly shooting live rounds of ammunition at peaceful protestors is unconscionable. I am extremely worried that lives are being lost even as I speak,” Pillay said.
“The international community must unite in condemnation of such acts and make unequivocal commitments to ensure justice is rendered to the thousands of victims of this repression.”
Citing the reported use of machine guns, snipers and military planes against demonstrators, Pillay said such extremely serious allegations of acts committed in brazen defiance of international law must not go without a full and independent investigation. Accountability was key, she added.
“The state has an obligation to protect the rights to life, liberty and security,” she said.
“Protection of civilians should always be the paramount consideration in maintaining order and the rule of law. The authorities should immediately cease such illegal acts of violence against demonstrators. Widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity. ” (…)
Read full statement
4. UNHCR fears for the safety of refugees caught in Libya’s violence
22 February 2011
(…) The UN refugee agency said in Geneva on Tuesday it has become "increasingly concerned" about the dangers for civilians inadvertently caught up in the mounting violence in Libya, especially asylum-seekers and refugees.
"We have no access at this time to the refugee community. Over the past months we have been trying to regularize our presence in Libya, and this has constrained our work," Melissa Fleming, UNHCR's chief spokesperson, told journalists in Geneva. (…)
(…) Scores of people are believed to have been killed in Libya since the government cracked down on protests that erupted against the government last week. Fighting has been continuing in the capital, Tripoli, and elsewhere.
Prior to the current unrest UNHCR had registered more than 8,000 refugees in Libya, with a further 3,000 asylum-seekers having pending cases. The main places of origin are Chad, Eritrea, Iraq, Palestine, Somalia and Sudan.
“We are calling on all neighbouring countries to welcome those arrivals from Libya who may be fleeing targeted violence and fearing for their lives,” UNHCR’s Fleming said. (…)
Read full article.
1. Open Statement on the Situation in Libya
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
22 February 2011
(…) United Nations (UN) member states must uphold their 2005 commitment to the responsibility to protect (R2P) and take immediate action to protect the population of Libya from mass atrocities. (…)
(…) The potential for continuing or even escalating atrocities is all too real with few signs that the Libyan government plans to act in accordance with its responsibility to protect. Muammar Gaddafi has made clear his readiness to commit atrocities in a bid to maintain power, stating in a speech today that those challenging the government “deserved to die” and that he will fight those protesting his regime “until the last drop of blood. (…)
(…) International actors must similarly not stand by and allow for the perpetration of mass atrocities. The responsibility to protect requires that where a government is manifestly failing to protect its population the UN Security Council must be prepared to take timely and decisive action to protect populations at risk. As the Libyan government clearly abdicated responsibility for protecting its population when it began shooting civilians in the street, member states must take steps to prevent the further commission of atrocities. Such steps may include:
• Calling on the government of Libya to uphold its responsibility to protect and halt the commission of atrocities;
• Establishing a no-fly zone over the entire country, pursuant to chapter VII of the UN charter, to prevent aerial attacks on civilians;
• Implementing a complete arms embargo prohibiting the sale, transfer or delivery of any weapons or military equipment to the government of Libya;
• Imposing targeted sanctions on key regime figures including Muammar Gaddafi, his family and others known to be inciting or ordering the commission of atrocities against civilians;
• Creating a commission of inquiry, with possible referral to the International Criminal Court, to investigate whether crimes against humanity have been committed by the Libyan government, security forces and foreign mercenaries.
UN member states and international organizations such as the African Union and the Arab League, which recently expelled Libya from its membership, must give their support to these measures as well. In addition, Libyan security forces should be encouraged to uphold international standards and exercise restraint. Member states should be prepared to offer safe haven to Libyan military or diplomatic personal that refuse to participate in the commission of crimes against civilians.
The evidence of crimes perpetrated against civilians is clear. There has been widespread condemnation of these horrific atrocities, but action must follow words. In keeping with the responsibility to protect, member states should use all available measures and leverage to end atrocities in Libya. (…)
Read Open Statement
2. Urgent NGO Appeal to World Leaders to Stop Atrocities in Libya
20 February 2011
(…) We urge you to mobilize the United Nations and the international community to take immediate action to halt the mass atrocities now being perpetrated by the Libyan government against its own people. The inexcusable silence cannot continue. (…)
Accordingly, the government of Libya is committing gross and systematic violations of the right to life as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Citizens seeking to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are being massacred by the government.
Moreover, the government of Libya is committing crimes against humanity, as defined by the Explanatory Memorandum to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Libyan government’s mass killing of innocent civilians amount to particularly odious offences which constitute a serious attack on human dignity. (…)
(…) Under the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, you have a clear and unambiguous responsibility to protect the people of Libya. The international community, through the United Nations, has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help to protect the Libyan population. Because the Libyan national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their population from crimes against humanity, should peaceful means be inadequate, member states are obliged to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the UN Charter, including Chapter VII.
In addition, we urge you to convene an emergency Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council, whose members have a duty, under UNGA Resolution 60/251, to address situations of gross and systematic violations of violations of human rights. The session should:
• Suspend Libya’s Council membership, pursuant to Article 8 of Resolution 60/251, due to its commission of gross and systematic violations of human rights.
• Strongly condemn, and demand immediate end to, Libya’s massacre of its own citizens.
• Dispatch immediately an international mission of independent experts to collect relevant facts and document violations of international human rights law and crimes against humanity, in order to end the impunity of the Libyan government. The mission should include an independent medical investigation into the deaths, and an investigation of the unlawful interference by the Libyan government with the access to and treatment of wounded.
• Call on the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights and all of the Council’s relevant Special Procedures to closely monitor the situation and take action as needed.
• Call on the Council to remain seized of the matter and address the Libyan situation at its upcoming 16th regular session in March.
Member states and high officials of the United Nations have a responsibility to protect the people of Libya from what are preventable crimes. We urge you to use all available measures and levers to end atrocities throughout the country. We urge you to send a clear message that collectively the international community, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council will not be bystanders to these mass atrocities. Both the credibility of the United Nations and many innocent lives are at stake. (…)
See full appeal
3. Libya: Governments Should Demand End to Unlawful Killings
Human Rights Watch
20 February 2011
(…) The estimated death toll from four days of protests in cities across Libya has risen to at least 233 according to information from hospital sources in Libya, Human Rights Watch said today. From Benghazi, staff at Al Jalaa hospital said they recorded 50 dead on February 20, 2011, while the 7 October hospital reported another 10 dead the same day, giving a total of 60 killed in Benghazi on February 20. This raises the overall death toll from protests in five Libyan cities to 233 since February 17. Human Rights Watch was unable to contact two other hospitals in Benghazi. (…)
The African Union and African, Western, and Arab countries that have relations with Libya should urge the Libyan government to stop the unlawful killing of protesters, Human Rights Watch said today. (…) Human Rights Watch calls on the African Union, the European Union, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other governments with ties to Libya to:
• Publicly demand an end to unlawful use of force against peaceful protesters;
• Announce that those responsible for serious violations of international human rights law must be held individually accountable and will be subjected to appropriate measures;
• Impose an embargo on all exports of arms and security equipment to Libya; and
• Tell Libya to restore access to the internet. (…)Read full article.
4. Immediate International Steps Needed to Stop Atrocities in Libya
International Crisis Group
22 February 2011
(…) With credible reports of concerted deadly attacks against civilians committed by Libyan security forces, including the use of military aircraft to indiscriminately attack demonstrators, the international community must respond immediately. (…)
Crisis Group recommends the following urgent steps:
• Imposing targeted sanctions against Muammar Qaddafi and family members as well as others involved in the repression, including an immediate assets freeze;
• Offering safe haven to Libyan aircraft pilots and other security personnel who refuse to carry out illegal regime orders to attack civilians;
• Cancelling all ongoing contracts and cooperation for the supply of military equipment and training to Libyan security forces;
• Imposing an international embargo to prevent the sale and delivery of any military equipment or support to Libyan security forces while refraining from any commercial sanctions that could harm civilians;
In light of the intensity of the violence and its likely regional effects, the United Nations Security Council should:
• Strongly condemn Libya's resort to state violence against civilians and call on the Libyan government and security forces to immediately halt all such attacks and restore access for humanitarian flights to Libyan air space;
• Call on member states to take the above-mentioned actions;
• Establish an international commission of inquiry into alleged crimes against humanity in Libya since 1 February 2011, tasking it to investigate the conduct of the Libyan government and all its varied security forces, as well as allegations concerning the involvement of foreign mercenaries. The body should provide recommendations on steps to be taken by national and international authorities to ensure accountability for any crime;
• Plan the establishment of a no-fly zone under Chapter VII if aircraft attacks against civilians continue. (…)
Read media release.
5. UN Must invoke “Responsibility to Protect” to prevent unlawful killings
22 February 2011
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global movement of civil society with members and partners in over a hundred countries.
The situation in Libya is escalating with mass killings of protestors, resulting in the commission of crimes against humanity. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation calls upon the UN Security Council to invoke the principle of 'Responsibility to Protect' to deal immediately with the threat posed to international peace and security. (…)
"The international community cannot afford to look the other way while Gadaffi's henchmen mow down unarmed civilians on the streets", said Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS. "Failure to act will not only result in the deaths of large numbers of innocent people, which constitutes a crime against humanity, but will also embolden other despotic regimes to use similar measures against their populations".
Following the 2005 World Summit on Human Rights, the international community made a historic commitment to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity through the doctrine of 'Responsibility to Protect'.
Heads of state and government agreed that states have the primary responsibility to prevent the above crimes and the international community should encourage or assist states to exercise this responsibility. But when a state manifestly fails in its responsibilities then the international community must step in and if necessary use collective force through the UN Security Council to protect the adversely affected people.
"This is an extraordinary situation of mammoth proportions and certainly not a domestic matter. The ongoing cruel and wanton murder of protestors by Libyan government forces is a serious risk to humanity that the UN Security Council must address forthwith", said Netsanet Belay, Policy and Research Director at CIVICUS.
CIVICUS calls upon the UN Security Council to treat the ongoing atrocities in Libya as a threat to international peace and security and act in accordance with Chapter 7 of the UN Charter by taking appropriate non-military and military action to restore peace and security for the people of Libya.
Read full press release.
6. Mass Atrocities in Libya
Genocide Intervention Network/ Save Darfur Coalition
22 February 2011
(…) After a week of protests calling for the overthrow of Libyan head of state Muammar al-Qaddafi, events in Libya have taken a dramatic turn in scale and violence. (…)
(…) Given credible reports of targeted violence against civilians, the newly merged Genocide Intervention Network/Save Darfur Coalition has called on the United States, United Nations, and other world leaders to embrace their responsibility to protect Libyan citizens. GI-NET/SDC is urging the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to authorize the following actions:
• Freezing of assets of top Libyan officials and the Qaddafi family;
• Referral of the situation in Libya to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court;
• Creation of a mandatory Libya Recovery Fund into which all revenues from Libyan oil exports would be paid;
• Establishment of a no-fly zone by willing countries, with the express aim of preventing continued operation of Libyan military aircraft if attacks against civilians continue. (…)