Transcript: Libyan President Mohamed Yousef El-Magariaf’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 27, 2012
Transcribed and edited by Jenny Jiang based on English translations provided by the United Nations.
Transcript of remarks by Libyan President Mohamed Yousef El-Magariaf at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 27, 2012:
Mr. President, three years ago, a despot who ruled my country for 42 years with oppression and an iron fist, he stood on this very rostrum and tore a copy of the charter of the United Nations, saying he did not recognize the authority of that document.
Today, I’m standing on the very same rostrum affirming my country’s support of the charter of the United Nations and our respect for it.
I stand before you today, before the entire world, to apologize for all the harm, all the crimes committed by that despot against so many innocents, to apologize for the extortion and terrorism he meted on so many states.
I should like that the Libyan people is determined to build a state that respects its neighbors – one that respects its international commitments, one that respects human rights and believes that genuine peace in the world will not be realized unless the conscience of every individual is focused on peace.
Libya shall be a land of peace and security and a force for peace.
Mr. President, I am speaking today before this august assembly to bring you the greetings of the Libyan people – a people that arose on Feb. 17, 2011 in a comprehensive, explosive revolution that shook the very foundations of the regime of the lunatic despot, Moammar Gadhafi, who declared that he will burn Libya, would destroy Libya, and make it swim in a blood bath.
He killed thousands of civilians, recruited mercenaries from everywhere, crossed every value and ordered his militias and mercenaries to rape minors, one who destroyed cities that our people did not kneel, did not back down.
Thousands of martyrs were lost among the wounded and the lost. The price of freedom was a price in blood, lives, amputated limbs, and lost youths.
Mr. President, from this place on behalf of the Libyan people, I greet the organization of the United Nations that stood by our people, by our will for freedom against bloodlust, one that adopted resolutions 1970 and 1973 in the Security Council to protect the innocents in Libya against crimes against humanity and violations of human rights.
Mr. President, I stand before you today representing the Libyan people – a people that is building the institutions of democracy following the fall of dictatorship.
The world has witnessed the first free, transparent elections in Libya, where the General National Council was elected. One, I was honored to be elected as its leader. The world through these United Nations gave us complete genuine support for that achievement.
In our revolution for freedom and in the challenge of establishing democracy, the conscience of the world was with us both in deeds and in thoughts. Support was offered from everyone and from everywhere.
Among those offering help was [U.S.] Ambassador Chris Stevens – a voice of reason and conscience, a man of love, a messenger of friendship – who came to Libya following the outbreak of our freedom revolution, one who touched people’s feelings, who traveled from Tripoli to the western mountains and back and all across Libya. Chris Stevens spoke to everyone in Arabic, always smiled, and showed care. This human diplomat has found his place in the consciousness of the Libyan people. It was a day of sadness throughout Libya when he was assassinated along with his three aides. We would like to express our deepest condolences to the American people for this grave loss. It was a loss for Libya as it was a loss for the United States of America.
We stress to the United States, its government, and its people that this catastrophe will only increase our solidarity to entrench the hopes and objectives in which Ambassador Stevens believed.
We shall defeat the plots of the backward terrorists that do not represent Libya, who do not represent Islam. Islam is a religion of tolerance, peace and love.
Just as President Obama said from this rostrum two days ago, our future is a future that will be charted by people like Chris Stevens – not by people like his killers.
In this context, I would like to express my condolences to the Libyan people and to Misrata for the death of Jamal [un-transcribable audio] who has joined the long list of martyrs some five days ago.
Mr. President, I would like to express our deep appreciation for the understanding showed by the U.S. administration following that incident.
Let me stress that my country is determined to perpetrators and to bring them to justice. We shall make our outmost [efforts] strengthen the necessary protection granted diplomatic and consular missions and to ensure the safety of their employees and facilities.
This painful event in no way expresses the feelings of the Libyan people – a people of moderation, hospitality, and gratitude. Perhaps the large demonstrations condemning this perfidious crime in the city of Benghazi and other Libyan cities is the best proof of the true feelings of the Libyan and their full rejection of all forms of violence and extremism.
Libya shall never be home to extremist groups. We shall always be a peaceful Muslim country – one of moderation.
Mr. President, the new Libya shall be based on democracy, openness, transparency, combatting corruption, enabling women and youths. It will be a Libya by all and for all.
At the same time, I cannot fail to condemn the anti-Islam campaigns and those defaming its Prophet. Such campaigns increase hatred. They aim at provocation and tension in relations amongst civilizations. They go beyond the concept of free expression. This makes it necessary for the General Assembly of the United Nations to adopt a covenant in order to criminalize the insulting of the symbols of all religions.
And we as muslims believe fully in the unity of mankind, of the brotherhood of man, and we express our support for dialogue between religions and cooperation, tolerance, and humanitarian values. And therefore, my country supports all efforts being made within the dialogue between civilizations, cultures, and religions within the United Nations and other organizations.
Mr. President, since the revolutions of 17 February of 2011, Libya has witnessed an uprising by the Libyan people against social injustice and political oppression. This did not stop at merely changing the dictatorial ruling regime. Indeed, it went forward toward a full transformation to a genuine democratic system based on the respected promotion of human rights, multi-party political system, the peaceful handing over of power, and the commitment to the principles and norms of international law as well as the charter of the United Nations.
Perhaps you have followed the consecutive political developments in Libya in the past few months on the road to democratic transformation, the rebuilding of state institutions, election of the General National Congress that will through a constituent assembly draw up a permanent constitution of Libya, the creation of the first provisional government following elections that were fully democratic as witnessed by international observers.
We shall work to rebuild, to reorganize, and reform state institutions, particularly the police force, the national army and the judiciary. And we shall also work to implement various programs to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate the revolutionaries in the defense and interior ministries as well as other state institutions.
For the first time since independence, we have political parties in the political arena. There is freedom of expression and the press. There is freedom – unconditional freedom – to demonstrate, freedom of association, freedom to set up civil institutions, unions, as well as political and social, intellectual organizations without any limitations. This has led to a free dialogue and effective participation by all people in all parts of the world.
Mr. President, the period of the previous regime for more than 4 decades saw flagrant violations of human rights, acts of torture, detentions without trial, extrajudicial killings, forced disappearance, mistreatment, humiliation of the citizens. When the revolution erupted on 17 February through peaceful demonstrations, the previous regime faced them down with bullets and oppression in a grave violation of international humanitarian law and human rights law.
Hence, the Human Rights Council suspended Libya’s membership in said council, set up an international fact-finding commission, and expressed the condemnation of the international community for such violations. That commission did certify violations of human rights by the regime forces and violations on the hands of some revolutionaries. And therefore, Libyan authorities have taken the human rights file to a higher level.
Mr. President, some have wondered whether the Arab state is worthy of support. To them, I would say would it have been better for the corrupt, dictatorial regime to remain in place for decades more, oppressing, meting out injustice, arbitrary treatment, corruption, and the violations of the most fundamental human rights? Should they have been allowed to continue pillaging the wealth of the people, leaving some of those oppressed people to extremism and follow some with a particular agenda that goes against peace and security – ones that will resort to terrorism and violence?
Democracy did not come to France following the French Revolution a year or even a decade following the revolution. Indeed, this was the case in other states of the world that made their freedom – this was followed by instability and sometimes very long bloody civil wars.
Mr. President, at this new stage of building the new Libya, we face threats and challenges that are very serious and threaten national and regional security because of illegitimate acts by Gaddafi’s sons and some elements of the previous regime, who are wanted by the law and have found safe harbor in some neighboring countries and others who are committing criminal acts threatening security and stability in Syria.
We also face other security threats – drug trafficking, the trafficking of psychotropic drugs, illegal immigration, the trafficking of weapons.
As you know, the nature and scope of these threats to national security and our borders require bilateral as well as multilateral response to promote and strengthen national efforts.
And therefore, last March, my country hosted the regional ministerial conference on the security of borders and the Tripoli plan of action was adopted to consult and share information and expertise on the security of borders.
Among our national priorities in Libya’s right to restitutions of monies that were pillaged from the treasury and secreted through outside the country – ones that are being used to finance criminal acts and activities in order to destabilize Libya and threaten its security. This also affects neighboring countries, and we would therefore call on all our friends to ensure the special rights to Libyans, investments and as well as through the properties of the Libyan states in other countries not to touch them and, particularly, in some countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia where those funds have been subject to sub-coercive measures by some governments.
In this context, we call on all states of the world to cooperate, to combat corruption and money laundering. We call on financial institutions, particularly in some Western countries and some islands, to bear their responsibilities and not to accept suspicious funds particularly from Third World dictators who are eating the wealth of their people and hide those funds under fictitious companies.
In March 2010, the Global Financial Integrity issued a report estimating that the offshore gross deposit was $10 trillion U.S. dollars. We look forward to designing a ratification of an anti-corruption convention by 130 states. We believe this would promote cooperation among states to combat corruption and to restitute stolen funds.
We also support the United Nations Convention against corruption. It is the first convention of its kind. It is binding legally and internationally by Chapter 8 and Articles from 1 to 71. And in this context, I must pay tribute to the great contribution of the mission, including its leader Ian Martin, despite the many challenges and difficulties. This is natural and to be expected in the transitional phase.
We also welcome the appointment of Mr. [Tarek] Mitri as the new head and we look forward to further cooperation and are committed to providing all facilities to him and his mission.
Mr. President, Libya is committed to respect all its commitments and all international instruments on disarmaments and the maintenance of international peace and security.
We are fully prepared to cooperate transparently and sincerely with the international community to support efforts both regional and international to implement the provisions of international agreements and protocols in order to create an international environment that would make progress toward ridding the world definitely of weapons of mass destruction.
We are also determined to review all other international instruments to which we are not party and to take the appropriate decision thereon as soon as the constitution is adopted and a government and parliament elected.
We condemn Israel’s measures in attempting judaize the occupied land and its violations of human rights, international humanitarian law. This calls on the international community to take its responsibilities by taking urgent strong measures to put an end to Israeli aggression and assure a full protection to Palestinians as well as a radical solution to the question of Palestine through a durable settlement assuring the withdrawal of Israel from all occupied lands and return of all Palestinian refugees to their homes. The establishment of the independent state of Palestine [un-transcribable audio] in accordance with international resolutions.
The suffering of the Syrian people is unimaginable. The regime in power is repressing its citizens violently, shedding their bloods and honor. This has caused the regime to lose its legitimacy. In order to put an end to such a tragedy, Libya urges the Security Council to act promptly in accordance with the principle of responsibility to protect and take immediate actions to end all forms of murder, violence, and destruction and find a way out of this crisis through a peaceful transition of power in order to ensure the legitimate demands of the Syrian people. This has not been achieved so far. However, with consensus among member states in the Security Council and by supporting the efforts of the Joint Envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League, this may be obtained.
Libya condemns social and political injustice, harassment and killings against the Muslim minorities in Myanmar on ethnic and religious basis. This is a flagrant violation of international human right. We call all relevant institutions to immediately intervene to put an end to this tragedy. We underline the necessity of forming an international committee of inquiry to identify those responsible for such violence and killings and bring them to justice and ensure the right of compensation to victims.
Mr. President, our countries convene annually in this forum ever since the United Nations was established in order to reflect on the achievement of the objectives set out in its charter. We have made many achievements and many challenges remain such as reform of the United Nations, ridding the world of weapons of mass destruction, reduction of poverty, ignorance and disease, wars and armed conflicts, fighting terrorism and organized crimes, the protection of the environment, achieving sustainable development, a respect for human rights and the rights of women, and ensuring the rule of law, fighting against racism, hatred and intolerance.
Mr. President, Libya emphasizes its affiliation with Africa – the importance of shifting its policies in relations with Africa and the world, once were based in the past on personal choices and extortion. We want them to be a relation based on a firm basis of the interests of all the people. The new Libya disassociates itself from the repugnant past and extends its hand in freedom and friendship to initiate new relations built on mutual respect and fruitful cooperation.
In conclusion, excellencies, Mr. President, let me wish this session full success in solving the issues on our agenda. I express the hope that the spirit of solidarity and cooperation will prevail in order to create a better world – one blessed with security and stability. Thank you, and may God’s blessing be upon you.
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