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Ambassador Susan E. Rice on Libya and Syria at UN Security Council Media Stakeout



Note: This transcript is edited to include only remarks by U.S. Permanent Representative Susan E. Rice. She was joined at this United Nations Security Council media stakeout by the Permanent Representative from France following remarks by the Permanent Representative from Russia.

Ambassador Rice: Oh, the bombast and bogus claims. Welcome to December. Is everybody sufficiently distracted from Syria now and the killing that is happening before our very eyes?

We had a very useful and productive briefing on Libya by Special Representative Ian Martin. As always he was comprehensive and thorough and responded very in-depth to the questions that were posed to him by Council members. From the United States’ point of view and that of many members of the Council, we looked back on the remarkable progress that has been made in Libya and the extraordinary contributions that the actions of the Arab League, the Security Council, NATO and partners made to saving civilian lives in Libya.

I was there on the ground in Libya—in Benghazi and Tripoli—and I heard first hand from hundreds if not thousands of people who mobbed us to thank us for the extraordinary steps that were taken by this Council to prevent the loss of civilian life in Libya. The people of Benghazi quite literally believe that the actions this Council took in 1973 saved their city. Now, obviously, the United States and NATO partners regret any loss of civilian lives, but we also know that these are being already investigated, including by the Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry, we are—we welcome that. We have—we note that neither the Libyan government nor the majority of members of the Security Council expressed any interest in any additional investigations. And, frankly, I think it’s not an exaggeration to say that this is something of a cheap stunt to divert attention from other issues and to obscure the success of NATO and its partners—and indeed the Security Council—in protecting the people of Libya.

Reporter: …Ambassador Rice, on this question of the ICC having jurisdiction to look into this or prosecute it, it seems to some that there is a clause, there was a carve-out, for non-ICC members not being subject to the court for their operations in Libya. So, since there were some, including your own, countries in NATO that are not subject to the ICC, how does that—how does the ICC have jurisdiction over that?

Ambassador Rice: I’m not going to get into the legal question of jurisdiction, lack of jurisdiction, but let me just say this: the prosecutor has said in the open chamber that that is what he’s doing. But the point is that this is a distraction and a diversion. And it is a diversion from the fact that this Council’s actions and those of NATO and its partners saved tens of thousands—if not hundreds of thousands—of Libyan lives. That is something we should be celebrating. It is certainly something that the people of Libya are celebrating. And if the Libyans want to work with NATO to investigate any concerns they have, we’re more than willing to do that. I think it’s notable that we’ve not heard that call from the Libyan government. So let us—let us see this for what it is: it is duplicitous, it’s redundant, it’s superfluous and it’s a stunt. And if others want to go along with it, they can. But I did not hear a majority of the members of the Council indicate that they thought this was necessary. And we’re certainly looking forward to hearing from the commission of inquiry.

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