UN Security Council refers Gaddafi, regime to International Criminal Court

Gulf Cooperation Council urges international community to intervene to end massacres

Europe calls on Gaddafi to step down immediately

Organization of Islamic Conference wants probe into Gaddafi’s crimes, appeals to Libyan army not to obey his orders

The United Nations Security Council's unanimous resolution referring Libya to the International Criminal Court (ICC) sends a strong signal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his commanders, as well as other governments in the region, that the international community will not tolerate the vicious repression of peaceful protesters, Human Rights Watch said last week.

The resolution adopted on February 26, 2011, referred the crisis in Libya to the ICC, imposed travel bans on key Libyan leaders, and froze their assets.

"The Security Council has risen to the occasion and given notice to Gaddafi and his commanders that if they give, tolerate, or follow orders to fire on peaceful protesters, they may find themselves on trial in The Hague," said Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch said the Security Council's referral to the ICC appears aimed both at bringing justice to the Libyan people and avoiding more victims.

"The United Nations is showing concerted international resolve to pressure Gaddafi and his henchmen to end their murderous attacks on the Libyan population," said Dicker.

The UN General Assembly is expected to consider a resolution this coming week to suspend Libya from the Human Rights Council, following last week's condemnation of Libya at a special Human Rights Council session.

"The Security Council action shows that justice awaits Libyan security commanders who unlawfully attack people to stay in power," said Dicker. "It is the clearest possible directive to Gaddafi and his cohorts to end the killing.

Western and Arab leaders mobilized to try to halt the bloody unrest in Libya, but stopped short of calling on leader Moammar Gaddafi to step down, while the U.N. Security Council called for an immediate end to the violence.

The Arab League also barred the Libyan delegation from its meetings.

Meanwhile, European nations are discussing sanctions against Gaddafi but have run up against objections from some EU states, notably Italy and Malta, diplomats said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the crackdown as “completely unacceptable.”

“It is the responsibility of the government of Libya to respect the universal rights of their own people, including their right to free expression and assembly,” she said.

But as the United States sought to extricate U.S. diplomats and other Americans safely from the violence spreading around Libya, Washington stopped short of criticizing Gaddafi personally or demanding that he step down.

The Arab League barred Libya from its meetings until Tripoli responds to the demands of protesters, threatening to suspend its membership. It has also called an emergency meeting on the unrest.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accused Libya of firing on civilians from warplanes and helicopters.

Following an emergency session on events in Libya, the U.N. Security Council voiced “grave concern” about the events unfolding in Libya and issued a statement calling for an “immediate end to the violence.” It also called for those responsible for the attacks on civilians to be held to account.

The U.N. high commissioner for human rights said “systematic attacks” on civilians may amount to “crimes against humanity.”

At least three Muslim countries have joined a call for an urgent meeting of the U.N.’s premier human-rights body to discuss the situation in Libya.

A document obtained by the Associated Press shows Jordan, Qatar and the Maldives are among the 16 signatories needed to call an emergency session of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Signaling growing frustration across the Middle East with the violence, several Arab and Muslim governments condemned the Libyan leader’s harsh response to the protests.

“Qatar denounces the use of these arms and asks the Libyan authorities to stop the use of force against civilians and end the bloodshed,” read a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry in Doha.

The Gulf Cooperation Council condemned Libya for alleged “genocide” against civilian protesters.

Tunisia demanded its neighbor stop using force against civilians.

Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Kayed condemned the repression of the protests as a blatant violation of basic human rights and said that “spilling the blood of the brotherly Libyan people must stop immediately.”

He said Amman holds Gaddafi’s regime responsible for the safety of Libyan citizens and foreigners living there.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Libya against taking “cruel steps” in crushing the uprising, saying this would only fuel the violence.

Iraq, Hamas and Malaysia also condemned the violence.

Iran condemned the “massacre” of Libyans, saying the revolt in Libya was part of an Islamic awakening.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference also denounced the “excessive” use of force by the Libyan authorities.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the Libyan leader had declared war on his own people. “Gaddafi’s speech was very scary as he has declared war on his own people,” she said, while warning that Berlin would consider sanctions unless he ended the crackdown.

One proposal on the table was a travel ban and assets freeze against the Libyan leader and his inner circle, said an EU diplomat who asked to remain anonymous. “If Gaddafi keeps killing people the way he has it’s a necessity to do something,” he said. “Sanctions must be discussed in this situation, otherwise it would be contrary to European policies,” the diplomat said.

Another option would be to suspend negotiations between Libya and the EU that began in 2008 to agree a first-ever special two-way partnership.

But diplomats told AFP Italy and Malta objected, with Cyprus too apparently cautioning against any such move. Italy, already struggling to cope with an exodus of Tunisian refugees, as well as Malta, are concerned Gaddafi could allow tens of thousands of irregular African migrants currently in Libya to leave for Europe.

Several European nations also have major economic stakes in the North African nation, including French and Italian oil giants Total and ENI.

“Slapping sanctions on Gaddafi might simply reinforce his nationalist stand [and] give the impression that the democratic movement in his country is coordinated overseas,” said a diplomat who asked not to be identified.

China expressed concern about unrest in Libya but held back from joining other nations in condemning Gaddafi for the bloody unrest.

The secretary general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference has condemned the bloody crackdown on protests in Libya, and has called on Moammar Gaddafi's regime to stop "targeting innocent Libyan people."

In a statement released this week, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu strongly criticized the Libyan government's use of excessive force against civilians. He said the nation's authorities should resolve demonstrators' demands through "peaceful means and serious dialogue" rather than bloodshed.

The situation in Libya has become increasingly chaotic since Gaddafi's forces began to try and put down protests against his regime last week.

The OIC is an umbrella organization representing 57 Muslim nations.