NEW YORK, 20 MARCH 1998
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3864th MEETING (Tribute to the memory of the victims of Pan Am Flight 103 and UTA Flight 772)
My delegation is very pleased to see you, Sir, presiding over our debate here today.
Let me begin by paying my profound respects to the families of the victims of the bombings of the Pan Am and UTA flights, who are still waiting for justice to be done. We must not forget the reason why measures were imposed on Libya by the Security Council nor their goal of delivering justice to those directly affected by those horrendous acts. The Council measures remain in force because Libya has not yet complied with its obligations under the relevant Council resolutions by submitting to the appropriate jurisdiction the two individuals accused of those crimes.
My delegation welcomes the fact that this problem is being discussed here at this open debate of the Security Council, permitting all United Nations Members to express their views on the matter.
Portugal supported this initiative from the very beginning. We believe that it is not only an effort to enhance the transparency of the working methods of the Council and its democratic exposure to the views of the general membership of our Organization. More importantly, we believe that it is also a way of contributing to a better general understanding of the matter under consideration. Furthermore, we also believe that it is an appropriate manner of allowing Libya itself to put forward its position before the Council as, according to the Charter, it is entitled to do.
The crux of this question which should not be seen as a dispute between Libya, on the one hand, and the United Kingdom and the United States of America, on the other lies in the fact that Tripoli has so far refused to surrender the two Libyan citizens suspected of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 to a trial in a United Kingdom or a United States court, as demanded by the relevant Security Council resolutions. Therefore, this is a confrontation that pits Libya against the Security Council.
We have considered all the arguments put forward by the Libyan authorities and, in particular, we listened attentively to the statement made here today by the Secretary of the General People's Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. In this respect, my delegation would like to make the following remarks.
While we register and welcome the concern shown by the Libyan authorities for the human rights of the two suspects, we cannot accept the argument that a Scottish court does not offer guarantees of impartiality and fair trial. According to the conclusions of the report on the Scottish judicial system submitted by the representatives of the Secretary-General sent to Scotland, Mr. Dumbutshena and Mr. Schermers,
the accused would receive a fair trial under the Scottish judicial system. Their rights would be protected ... in accordance with international standards. The presence of United Nations and other international observers can be fully and easily accommodated. [S/1997/991, p. 15]
We note that the British authorities have already indicated that they will accept international observation of the trial.
Furthermore, we would like to point out that the human rights of the suspects are doubly guaranteed in a trial in Scotland, since a decision by a British court is subject to the control of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Based on the recent decisions of the International Court of Justice, Libya claims that the Security Council should suspend its own resolutions on this matter. We have carefully studied the Court's decisions and have come to the conclusion that these decisions change nothing on the substance of the matter. They merely address preliminary, procedural questions and do not decide on the merits of the case. And, obviously, they do not question the validity of the relevant resolutions of the Security Council. My delegation thinks that the Council and the entire United Nations membership cannot, evidently, accept these claims by Libya.
We all know that sanctions are a means of pressure to compel States to abide by international law and fulfil their obligations, as required by Security Council resolutions. But we also believe that these sanctions are hurting everyone in Libya, both economically and psychologically, and are not just targeted at those who are responsible for Libya's refusal to comply with Security Council demands.
The report of the fact-finding mission sent to Libya by the Secretary-General, headed by Director-General Petrovsky and we thank the Secretary-General for this initiative and Mr. Petrovsky and his team for the mission they undertook reflects the fact that the Libyan people are being affected by the sanctions regime. But the report also shows that the Libyan authorities are not making use of the appropriate mechanisms established by the Council and the sanctions Committee to address the consequences of the sanctions, namely, those affecting vulnerable groups or the health sector. Paragraphs 7 and 11 of the report are very clear in this respect.
I take this opportunity to acknowledge the determination of the sanctions Committee on Libya to continue to pay special attention to all humanitarian issues arising under the relevant Security Council resolutions and to respond promptly to requests for humanitarian exceptions within the scope of its authority. My delegation will spare no effort to support the activities and decisions of the Committee in this regard.
Portugal has noted the proposals put forward by the Organization of African Unity and the League of Arab States, which are certainly meant to be a constructive political effort to find a compromise solution which will delay justice no longer and will put an end to the suffering of the Libyan people. But any compromise solution must not, in our view, depart from the crucial legal and political aspects enshrined in the relevant Security Council resolutions. This is clearly what international law demands. And Libya, like any other United Nations Member, must comply with it.
Like others, we believe that, indeed, justice delayed is justice denied first of all, to the relatives of the victims who have suffered the loss of their loved ones. Justice delayed is justice denied also to the international community, which is defending itself against terrorism and upholding international law. Finally, justice delayed is justice denied also to the innocent people of Libya, who are enduring sanctions imposed on their country and are thus kept as hostages to the will of those two individuals accused of terrorism who refuse to surrender to trial.
The time has come for the United Nations, and the Security Council in particular, to think of more efficient ways to bring Libya into compliance. In this context, Portugal believes that the Secretary-General's assistance can be of great value.
My delegation is aware of the positive statements and steps undertaken by Libya regarding the repudiation of terrorism in all its forms. We welcome the cooperation which the Libyan Government has extended to the French and British judicial authorities in this regard. These steps should ultimately lead to the full cooperation that the Council is seeking from Libya.
Portugal joins other voices here today that appeal to the Libyan authorities to cooperate fully with the Council and to fulfil their obligations promptly. This is the way to render justice to the families of the victims; the way to ensure a fair trial for the accused themselves; and also the way to enable the Council to lift the sanctions affecting the Libyan people.