United Nations, Feb 27 : India and 14 other members of the powerful UN Security Council today unanimously slapped "biting sanctions" on the Gaddafi regime in the form of an arms embargo, asset freezes and travel ban and also ordered an international war crimes probe into the bloodshed in Libya.
The vote came as the violence flared up in the North African country, with more than 1,000 pro-democracy protesters losing their lives in the brutal crackdown launched by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi to crush the two-week revolt against his 41-year authoritarian rule. Diplomats spent entire day yesterday working on the resolution prepared by France, UK, Germany and the US, following which it was adopted unanimously early this morning. The sanctions included asset freezes for 68-year-old Gaddafi and his family, travel ban for the Libyan leader and his family as well as other leaders of the Libyan regime, a comprehensive arms embargo and an immediate referral to the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC).
"We deplore the use of force, which is totally unacceptable," Hardeep Singh Puri, India's ambassador to the UN said at the Council after the resolution was approved.
"We also have concerns about the safety of India nationals and their assets in Libya," he said, asking Libya to ensure the safe departure of foreigners in the country.
The main bone of contention during the discussion was the immediate referral to the ICC since some countries in the Security Council, including India, China, US and Russia are not members of the tribunal.
India, however, relented after the resolution was modified to include that the Security Council could defer ICC action for a period of 12 months and renew that deferral, which is also article 16 of the Rome Statute that established the ICC. The resolution also states that non-Libyan nationals from a country, which is not a party to the Rome Statute, shall only be subject to jurisdiction of that state for any crimes committed in Libya in operations authorised by the Council.
"We would have preferred a calibrated and gradual approach," Puri told Council, noting that 114 out of the 192 nations of the UN are not members of the ICC. The envoy, however, added that India "had gone along with the consensus in the Council" because African and Arab states wanted to refer the matter to the ICC, and this was also what Libyan envoy Mohamed Shalgam had asked for in his letter sent to the Council yesterday. Susan Rice, US envoy to the UN, pointed out that this was the first time a resolution referring a case to the ICC had passed unanimously. She said the Council wanted "biting sanctions" targeting Libya's unrepentant leadership. PTI