Paris, France NY (BBN)– Libya’s claim that it will abide by this week’s Security Council resolution, which calls for an immediate ceasefire and a halt to all attacks against civilians, still has to be verified, and the regime’s current actions are unclear, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Saturday.
Mr. Ban told reporters in Paris, where international leaders met to discuss the situation in Libya, that he received a phone call last night from Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmudi, who said the regime would “strictly abide” by the terms of resolution 1973.
That resolution, imposed by the Council on Thursday, authorizes the use of “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya, where the regime of Moammar Gadhafi has conducted a fierce military offensive against a popular uprising.
The Libyan Prime Minister “asked me to intervene to stop military action on the part of the international community,” Mr. Ban said. “Frankly he sounded rather desperate. It is not clear what they are doing. He called for a monitoring team to observe the ceasefire. The Libyan claim has to be verified. There is no doubt the Libyans are trying hard to ward off military action under [resolution] 1973.
“I have spoken with the Foreign Minister of Libya [Musa Kusa] several times to urge the Government to stop the violence and cease fire immediately.”
Media reports state that Libya’s armed forces have attacked the eastern city of Benghazi, where rebel forces are headquartered, in the past 24 hours, despite the regime’s claim it would abide by a ceasefire.
Mr. Ban said that, “given the critical situation on the ground, it is imperative that we continue to act with speed and decision,” adding that the United Nations would work closely with regional organizations and individual Member States “to coordinate a common, effective and timely response.”
Resolution 1973, adopted by the 15-member Security Council with 10 votes in favour and five abstentions, requests Mr. Ban to inform the Council immediately of any actions taken by Member States as well as to appoint an eight-member expert panel to monitor implementation of its terms, including an arms embargo.
The UN has stated that it will create an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law in Libya, identify those responsible, make recommendations and report back to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“Many of the acts we are witnessing appear to constitute crimes against humanity, punishable under international law,” Mr. Ban said. “We must hold the perpetrators accountable.”
The protests and subsequent fighting in Libya are part of a broader wave of unrest sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East this year, with long-standing regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and calls in other countries for wide-ranging reforms.
BBN/SSR/AD-20Mar11-9:49 am (BST)