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U.S. Envoy Rice at U.N. Security Council Briefing on Libya

16 May 2012

May 16, 2012


Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations, at the Security Council Briefing on Libya (ICC), May 16, 2012

Thank you, Mr. President. I would like to thank the Prosecutor for his briefing on the work of his office and actions taken pursuant to Resolution 1970.

As we have consistently noted, Resolution 1970 and its referral of the situation in Libya to the International Criminal Court represented an historic milestone in the fight against impunity.The Security Council’s unanimous decision to refer the situation underscores the importance of the role of justice and accountability in the resolution of conflicts and the maintenance of international peace and security. The referral has served to keep accountability and rule of law as key elements of Libya’s transition to a peaceful and democratic future.

We are pleased with the Prosecutor’s report that his Office has received a high degree of cooperation from a variety of States and other actors in response to requests for assistance from the ICC.

As the Prosecutor described in his report, Libya recently filed an admissibility challenge with the Court on the grounds that it is actively investigating Saif al-Islam Qadhafi for the same and different crimes as the ICC. Libya also detailed the steps it has taken to conduct that investigation and its stated commitment to adhere to international standards in the process.

This is an important moment both for Libya and for the Court. The Rome Statute of the ICC is predicated on a system of complementary justice, and it contains provisions to deal with situations in which a State with jurisdiction wishes to pursue charges itself. In this regard, we are encouraged by the Prosecutor’s report of the ongoing cooperation his office has received from Libya. That said, as the Prosecutor notes, ultimately it will be for the judges to decide whether to defer to Libyan proceedings.

As the ICC proceedings move forward, we will continue to encourage the government of Libya to maintain its cooperation with the Court and to adhere to its international obligations, including under Resolution 1970. In addition, we continue to emphasize that it is critical that Libya take all necessary steps to ensure the detention and any further domestic proceedings against Saif al-Islam fully comply with Libya’s international obligations.

Moreover, there is much work to be done domestically in Libya not only to account for the grave crimes committed in the past but also to ensure a functioning justice system for the future.

It is vital that Libya build a fair and credible criminal justice system that guarantees humane treatment and due process and conforms to Libya’s international human rights obligations. We agree with the Prosecutor that the Government of Libya faces critical challenges in assuming custody over the thousands of detainees that continue to be held by militias or local authorities and in arranging for the expeditious release or adjudication of their cases. The international community should respond to the needs of the Libyan government as it approaches this significant administrative, logistical, and judicial task.

We are deeply concerned by the patterns of rape documented by the International Commission of Inquiry, as highlighted in the Prosecutor’s report. For the sake of the individual victims and in order to achieve a lasting and inclusive peace in Libya, sexual and gender-based violent crimes must not go unpunished.

It will be important to ensure that there is accountability for violations and abuses of applicable laws committed in Libya on all sides, including for alleged attacks committed against civilians for their perceived loyalties to the Qadhafi regime. Impunity for such crimes cannot be reconciled with respect for human rights and the rule of law. Independent and impartial investigations of all alleged crimes will be a critical part of the effort to create an inclusive, democratic state in which all Libyans, of all backgrounds, have a future and an opportunity to participate in the rebuilding of their country.

We are pleased to hear that the Government is working on a comprehensive strategy to address these issues and support the Ministry of Justice’s expressed commitment to justice sector reforms. We welcome the government of Libya’s statements in its submissions to the ICC that it is receptive to assistance and support from the international community in this important work. We are working with UNSMIL and the international community to assist the Libyan authorities in addressing these justice sector reform goals.

Thank you, Mr. President.