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On UN Libya Resolution, US Expert Pushed for Carve Out, Chinese Circus

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 28 -- Two days after the UN Security Council passed its resolution on Libya, various Council sources told Inner City Press how the resolution came about, and what they did during the three hour lull before voting: attend a Chinese circus.

Countries like India were pushing to hold off on referring the case of Libya to the International Criminal Court, arguing that to make the referral in the first resolution would mean the Council had expended all or most of its ammunition and would have nowhere else to go.

They say that when South Africa and Lebanon, after tearful Libyan ambassador Shalgam's letter, came out in favor of immediate referral to the ICC, the consensus emerged.

The US began insisting on an exemption from the ICC referral for citizens of countries which are not members of the ICC at the Saturday morning “experts” meeting. Brazil had abstained from the Council's referral to the ICC of Darfur, in opposition to American exceptionalism. But this time they went along.

At the February 28 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky if Mr. Ban agreed which this carve out from the ICC referral:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask actually about one aspect of the resolution that was passed Saturday that you are saying the Secretary-General praises. There is a paragraph, paragraph six, in which citizens of States that are not members of the ICC [International Criminal Court] are exempt from… even if the crime, even if their acts were in Libya, they won’t be tried by or investigated by the ICC. Brazil was critical of it; there are some others that have been critical of it. I wonder, does Ban Ki-moon have a view on whether this type of exceptions to the territorial jurisdiction of crimes committed in Libya is a good thing, and is it something that he might raise to President Obama? What is his view of this?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, I’ll come back to you on that. As you know, there are two routes if a country is not a State party to the Rome Statute, for action to be taken for the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction to hold. One is if the country concerned agrees to that jurisdiction. And the second is, as we saw on Saturday, a referral by the Security Council to the International Criminal Court.

Inner City Press: This resolution refers, it refers to Libya, but it expressly excludes from the referral any citizens, like American citizens, let’s say, or Indian citizens or, it would also include Algeria, you know, various other… Ethiopia, countries that are non-ICC members but who are alleged to have some of their nationals fighting with [Muammar Al-]Qadhafi, and so, I just, well, that’s what I am wondering. Sort of a big international law issue.

Spokesperson Nesirky: As I say, if I have anything further on that, I would let you know. I think there is little doubt that the resolution that was passed on Saturday evening was an extremely important one, and I think it sent a very clear message to people, not just in Libya, about accountability and the need to ensure that, as I say, people are held accountable for the actions.

Nine hours later, Ban's office had nothing to say. Meanwhile several Council Ambassadors confirmed to Inner City Press that during the lull in the Council's Saturday meeting on Libya, from five to eight pm, they went to attending a Chinese circus acrobats exhibition, to celebrate China taking over the Council in March.

Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong did not go see the acrobats: he had to call and wait for Beijing's answer on the resolution. But many diplomats of the sometimes circus-like Security Council were literally at the circus in the run up to the vote. Only at the UN.

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In UN Libya Resolution, US Insistence on ICC Exclusion Shields Mercenaries from Algeria, Ethiopia

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 26 -- After passage of a compromise Libya resolution by the UN Security Council on Saturday night, Inner City Press asked French Permanent Representative Gerard Araud if mercenaries aren't let off the hook by the sixth operative paragraph, exempting personnel from states not members of the International Criminal Court from ICC prosecution.

  Araud regretted the paragraph, but said the the United States had demanded it. He said, “No, that's, that was for one country, it was absolutely necessary for one country to have that considering its parliamentary constraints, and this country we are in. It was a red line for the United States. It was a deal-breaker, and that's the reason we accepted this text to have the unanimity of the Council.”

  While a Bush administration Ambassador to the UN in 2002 threatened to veto a UN resolution on Bosnia if it did not contain a similar exclusion, the Obama administration has maintained this insistence on impunity, which in this case applies to mercenaries from Algeria, Tunisia and Ethiopia, among other mercenary countries.

 (In the case of Algeria, there are allegations of official support for Gadhafi).

   While Inner City Press was able to ask UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant about the exclusion for mercenaries from non ICC countries, US Permanent Representative Susan Rice did not take a question from Inner City Press, and none on this topic, despite having mentioned mercenaries in her speech.

Obama, Hillary & Susan Rice: mercenary impunity not shown

  When Libya, but no longer Gadhafi, diplomat Ibrahim Dabbashi came out to take questions, Inner City Press asked him which countries the mercenaries used by Gadhafi come from.

  He mentioned Algeria, Tunisia and Ethiopia -- highlighted by NGOs as non ICC members -- as well as Chad, Niger, Kenya and Guinea. So some mercenaries could be prosecuted by the ICC, and not others, under language demanded by the US Mission to the UN. Watch this site.

Here is the US-demanded paragraph:

6. Decides that nationals, current or former officials or personnel from a State outside the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya which is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of that State for all alleged acts or omissions arising out of or related to operations in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya established or authorized by the Council, unless such exclusive jurisdiction has been expressly waived by the State.

Footnote: Araud blaming the US position on "parliamentary constraints" seemed to some a way to try to blame a decision by Obama's executive branch on the Republicans who recently took over the House of Representatives. But it was an Obama administration decision. More nuanced apologists blame the Defense Department for pulling rank on State. But the result is mercenaries firing freely.
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 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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