Thursday 15 September 2016

Lifting of UN sanctions against Libya

[On this date in 2003 the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution lifting the sanctions that had been imposed on Libya after the bombings of Pan Am 103 and UTA 772. The relevant Security Council press release (which includes the text of the resolution and the speeches made at the session) reads in part:]

After several delays in recent weeks, the Security Council this morning lifted decade-long sanctions against Libya, which were imposed after that country failed to cooperate with investigations into terrorist acts against Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, and France’s Union de transports aeriens (UTA) flight 772 over the Niger in 1989.

After postponing action on the issue last Tuesday in an effort to achieve consensus (see Press Release SC/7866 of 9 September), the Council adopted resolution 1506 today by a vote of 13 in favour with two abstentions (France, United States).  The decision became possible after Libya accepted responsibility for the actions of its officials, renounced terrorism and arranged for payment of appropriate compensation for the families of the victims.

Libya also expressed its commitment to cooperate with any further requests for information in connection with the investigation.  Those steps in compliance with relevant Council resolutions were recounted in a letter, dated 15 August, from Libya’s Permanent Representative to the President of the Council (document S/2003/818).

Speaking after the vote, however, the representative of the United States said that his country had abstained in the vote, because it did not want its position to be misconstrued as a decision to modify its bilateral measures regardless of future Libyan behaviour.  The United States’ sanctions on that country would remain in full force.

While Libya had taken steps in compliance with relevant United Nations resolutions, the United States continued to have serious concerns about other aspects of Libyan behaviour, he said.  These included its poor human rights record, its rejection of democratic norms and standards, its irresponsible behaviour in Africa, its history of involvement in terrorism and -- most importantly -- its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.

Referring to the agreement reached yesterday between representatives of the families of the victims of the UTA flight and the Gadhafi Foundation, France’s representative said that agreement had enabled France to not oppose the lifting of sanctions.  The conditions had been established for the equitable settlement of the painful matter that involved 17 nationalities.

Also speaking after the vote were the representatives of Germany, Bulgaria, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Syria, Spain and the United Kingdom.  They pointed out that the lifting of sanctions was an important phase in the process of reintegrating Libya in the international community, emphasizing that such normalization presumed that Libya would continue to abide by its commitments.  Several members of the Council also called on Libya to take other measures, including an equitable settlement for victims of the La Belle night club bombing in Berlin in 1986. (...)

Regarding the Lockerbie investigation, the United Kingdom (S/23307) and the United States (S/23308) had requested that Libya surrender for trial those charged with the destruction of the Pan Am flight on 21 December 1988, resulting in 270 deaths.  They further requested that Libya accept responsibility for the actions of its officials; disclose all it knew of the crime; and pay appropriate compensation.  Those requests were included in resolution 731 (1992).

The sanctions were spelled out in resolution 748, adopted on 31 March 1992, and resolution 883, adopted on 11 November 1993, and included travel restrictions, an arms embargo, and financial sanctions excluding financial resources derived from the sale of petroleum products and agricultural products.  Subsequently, the Council suspended the sanctions by its resolution 1192 (1998) after Libya agreed to hand over two suspects for trial before a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands in connection with the Lockerbie bombing.  One of them, Abdel Basset Al-Megrahi, has since been convicted and jailed for his role.

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