Security Council refers Libya to the ICC 01 Mar 2011
Following Resolution 1970, the ICC begins preliminary investigations into alleged crimes committed against civilians.

On 26 February 2011 the UN Security Council, in its Resolution 1970, referred the situation in Libya to the International Criminal Court, stating that "the widespread and systematic attacks currently taking place against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity."

The Security Council expressed grave concern at the situation in Libya and condemned the violence against civilians and systematic violation of human rights. The Resolution also imposed travel bans on several key Libyan leaders and froze their assets.

While Libya is not a party to the Rome Statute establishing the ICC, once the Security Council refers the situation to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), a preliminary investigation may be opened. On 28 February 2011, the Prosecutor, Mr Moreno-Ocampo, made a statement, announcing that the OTP will be liaising with organisations including the Arab League, the African Union, the UN Council on Human Rights, the UN High Commission for Human Rights and the UN Secretariat, as well as with States, in its collection of relevant information. Following its preliminary investigation, the OTP may ask a Pre-Trial Chamber at the Court to issue arrest warrants or summonses for those deemed most responsible.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo announced that an investigation team has been put together in The Hague to collect information and that the OTP was in contact with Libyan officials and army staff to understand command structures and the operations of the Libyan military system. Mr Moreno-Ocampo added that the aim was to move as swiftly as possible. The Security Council Resolution invites the Prosecutor to address the UNSC within 2 months of the resolution’s adoption and every 6  months thereafter on his actions takenpursuant to the resolution

This is the second occasion on which such a referral has taken place; in March 2005 the Security Council referred the the situation in Darfur to the ICC in Resolution 1593, resulting in two arrest warrants for Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir. The current referral represents the first time that the United States and China, neither of which are signatories to the ICC, voted in favour of such an action, having abstained from voting in 2005.


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