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Terrorism & Security

UN Security Council hits Qaddafi with sanctions, war crimes investigations

The unanimous Security Council decision increases international pressure on Col. Muammar Qaddafi's regime in Libya as President Obama calls for Qaddafi to leave power immediately.

By Correspondent / February 27, 2011

British Ambassador to the United Nations Mark Lyall Grant and American Ambassador Susan Rice vote during a Security Council vote on Saturday at UN headquarters. The UN Security Council me to consider sanctions against Libya, but members disagreed over a proposal to refer Muammar Qaddafi to an international war crimes tribunal.

Mary Altaffer/AP

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The United Nations Security Council voted Saturday to impose sanctions against Libyan leaders, including dictator Col. Muammar Qaddafi, and to refer them to the International Criminal Court for investigation of possible war crimes against civilians during the uprising in Libya. The UN sanctions came the same day as President Obama for the first time publicly called for Mr. Qaddafi to step down.

The New York Times reports that the Security Council's unanimous decision marked only the second time that the body voted to refer a UN member state to the ICC. The sanctions freeze the assets of and forbid travel by sixteen Libyan leaders, including Qaddafi and several members of his family. They also place an arms embargo on Libya and forbid any UN member state from transporting mercenaries to Libya. The sanctions compound the restrictions on Qaddafi, who had already seen Switzerland freeze his assets in Swiss banks on Thursday.

The Times notes that while the sanctions will likely take time to have effect, they indicate the breadth of international condemnation against the Libyan regime's violence against its protesting citizens. Susan E. Rice, the US Ambassador to the UN, called the Security Council's decision "a clear warning to the Libyan government that it must stop the killing."

Radio Free Europe calls the UN decision "remarkable" for two reasons. First, RFE notes that both China and Russia "have thrown their full support behind" the sanctions, despite both nations having a history of being reluctant to support Security Council action against what they consider domestic affairs of sovereign states. Second, it is the first time that the US has supported a referral to the International Criminal Court, an organization of which it is not a member. Similarly, China and Russia, both non-members of the ICC, supported the referral.

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