Global Policy Forum

Security Council Renews Disputed


Associated Press
July 10, 1997

United Nations, New York - The U.N. Security Council renewed sanctions against Libya on Thursday but not before an unprecedented bid by Arab and African members to relax measures imposed in the wake of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Council President Peter Osvald of Sweden said the sanctions, which ban air travel to and from Libya, would remain in effect for another 120 days.

Those sanctions were imposed in 1992 after Libya refused to hand over suspects in the Pan Am attack and in the 1989 bombing of a French UTA jetliner over Niger. Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi has offered to send the suspects to a neutral country for trial but refuses to hand them over to British, American or French courts.

The sanctions have been routinely extended with little debate every four months. On Thursday, however, Egypt, Kenya and Guinea-Bissau for the first time formally requested moves aimed at eliminating the sanctions. They cited resolutions of the Arab League and the Organization of African Unity against the sanctions.

The three asked the council to convene a special meeting to consider three options: trying the suspects in a neutral country; trying them before Scottish judges at the International Court of Justice in The Hague; or establishing a special court to hear the cases. In the meantime, the three asked the council to permit flights for religious, humanitarian and official missions.

They also asked the council to order the U.N. Department of Humanitarian Affairs to investigate the impact of the sanctions on the Libyan people and on neighboring countries which traditionally trade with Libya. France, Britain and the United States insisted on maintaining the sanctions. The British and the Americans also opposed any U.N. investigation on the humanitarian impact. After a three-hour debate, Osvald ruled that the Libyans had not complied with the sanctions resolution and the sanctions would be extended. A total of 270 people were killed in the bombing of the Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland. In the UTA bombing, 170 people died.

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