Muammar Gaddafi
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi REUTERS

The UN Security Council passed a resolution late on Saturday to impose sanctions against the Gaddafi-led Libyan government and initiate a probe against the bloody crackdown of anti-government protesters.

The resolution deplored what it called “the gross and systematic violation of human rights” in Libya and imposed a travel ban on Gaddafi and 15 relatives and loyalists, besides subjecting their assets abroad to be frozen by host countries.

In addition, the resolution has urged the Libyan government to respect press freedom and to facilitate relief and aid workers, allow medical supplies and allow foreign nationals to leave Libya freely without any hindrance.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1970 (2011) under Article 41 of the Charter’s Chapter VII, the Security Council also authorized all member nations to impose arms embargo to prevent the Libyan government from arming thousands of African mercenaries who were drafted to suppress the protests.

The quick adoption of the UN sanctions came through with China giving its nod at the last minute and Libya's UN representative defecting from supporting his government. The Chinese representative said Beijing supported the resolution taking into account the special circumstances in Libya.

Earlier, Libyan envoy Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgam, who broke with his government, wrote to the Council that his delegation supports the measures proposed in the draft resolution to hold to account those responsible for the armed attacks against the Libyan civilians, including [through] the International Criminal Court.

He also launched an appeal to all the officers of the Libyan armed forces to support their own people and defect.

The UN Security Council, however, could not adopt the referral issue as sought by him and some member nations as Libya was not a party to the agreement that established the ICC. Instead, it has urged all member states to cooperate fully with the ICC Prosecutor.

China, Russia and India, have also apparently resisted the investigation by the ICC as it could incite further oppression in the country instead of resolving the current unrest.

Welcoming the sanctions, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “While it (Resolution) cannot, by itself, end the violence and the repression, it is a vital step — a clear expression of the will of a united community of nations.”