Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at the Security Council Stakeout on Libya

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
March 16, 2011


Ambassador Rice: Good evening everybody. We have had yet another long day of negotiations on very serious texts that would deal in a concrete, and we believe meaningful way, with the situation on the ground in Libya. The United States has been playing a very active and very engaged role in leading this process inside the Council along with colleagues from Britain, and Lebanon, and France, and we are interested in a broad range of actions that will effectively protect civilians and increase the pressure on the Qadhafi regime to halt the killing and to allow the Libyan people to express themselves and their aspirations for the future freely and peacefully. We will continue our negotiations early tomorrow, fully focused on the urgency and the gravity of the situation on the ground, and it’s my hope that we may be in a position to vote a serious resolution as early as tomorrow. We are working very hard toward that end. I’m happy to take a few questions.

Reporter: Ambassador, given what you said, now is the U.S. in a position to say clearly, that although some details need to be worked out, you do support the position of a no-fly zone over Libya?

Ambassador Rice: We are discussing very seriously and leading efforts in the Council around a range of actions that we believe could be effective in protecting civilians. Those include discussion of a no-fly zone. But the U.S. view is that we need to be prepared to contemplate steps that include, but perhaps go beyond, a no-fly zone at this point, as the situation on the ground has evolved, and as a no-fly zone has inherent limitations in terms of protection of civilians at immediate risk.

Reporter: (Inaudible) Arab participation. How important is that to the United States?

Ambassador Rice: We think Arab leadership and participation is very important. We are in discussions with Arab and other partners about what role they are prepared to play. Obviously, the request for action came from members of the Arab League, and we think that as a consequence of that, they ought to be ready and willing to contribute in very meaningful ways.

Reporter: Churkin made a point saying that they proposed a ceasefire be voted on today and that they were willing to negotiate on the larger part tomorrow. But that it was rejected and to ask if it was rejected. Did you guys reject it, and, if so, why?

Ambassador Rice: It was not a majority in the Council that was ready to talk about a ceasefire that wasn’t accompanied by enforcement action. The bulk of the members of the Council were focused on a very substantial and detailed text that would have gone beyond calls for a ceasefire, which, in fact, were already embedded in 1970. But that would, in fact, entail the Council taking meaningful action swiftly. And that’s what our focus was.

Reporter: Thank you. Now that you have two draft resolutions – the Russian one and the French one – how are you going to overcome this obstacle in procedural terms? And do you think somebody is playing a filibuster role to give Qadhafi’s regime enough time to kill its people?

Ambassador Rice: There was a text that was formally introduced last night. It was a long and detailed text. We had hours of substantive discussions about it, elements, today. We will continue that tomorrow. And I think that is the real basis which most members of the Council want to act.

We don’t think that that is mutually exclusive of another demand for a ceasefire. We had one in effect in 1970, in the lengthy and substantive text that is under negotiation. It’s quite conceivable that that element could be drawn from the Russian draft and incorporated.

So, we don’t see these as necessarily mutually exclusive. I think most members of the Council were focused on the importance of the Council taking swift and meaningful action to try to halt the killing on the ground.


PRN: 2011/047