UN Security Council powers dispute coalition attacks
UN Security Council powers publicly crossed swords over the Libya conflict on Wednesday with Russia and China leading criticism of international coalition air raids.
Both called for greater efforts to reach a ceasefire. France reaffirmed the West's case that the international community had to intervene to defend civilians.
Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin raised alarm at the growing number of civilian casualties in the conflict between Moamer Kadhafi's forces and rebel fighters.
"Unfortunately it must be noted that actions by NATO-led coalition forces also lead to civilian casualties. This took place in particular during recent bombings of Tripoli," Churkin told the 15-nation Security Council.
"We again emphasize that any use of force by the coalition in Libya should be carried out in strict compliance with Resolution 1973." The resolution, passed in February, allows for the military action to patrol a no-fly zone in Libya to protect civilians.
Russia and China accuse the coalition of going beyond the UN mandate, particularly with strikes such as a raid on Saturday in which one of Kadhafi's sons and three of his grandchildren were killed.
"Any disproportionate use of force is unacceptable," Churkin said.
China called for the "complete and strict implementation" of Security Council resolutions.
"We are not in favor of any arbitrary interpretation of the council's resolutions nor are we in favor of any actions that go beyond its mandate," said its envoy Li Baodong.
Both ambassadors called for greater efforts for a ceasefire and a political solution in Libya.
China said that the UN special envoy for Libya, Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, should play a "stronger role" in international efforts to halt the conflict.
France's ambassador Gerard Araud, whose country is a leader of the coalition, replied that the international community had a duty to intervene.
"When a government turns against its civilian population instead of protecting them, when atrocities are such that they shock the conscience of humanity, when the stability of a whole region is affected, the international community has a duty to intervene," he said.
"That is what we have done in Libya," he added.
US envoy Susan Rice reaffirmed demands that Kadhafi must stand down and highlighted reports of new killings of civilians.
"These reports further underscore the message that we have repeated in our statements and in our diplomatic efforts: Kadhafi has lost any and all legitimacy to lead Libya," she said.
"Through his brutal oppression, Kadhafi has demonstrated time and again that he is not interested in a Libya that honors his people's hopes and rights," Rice told the council.
© 2011 AFP