Security Council to vote Friday on lifting sanctions against Libya

10 September 2003

The United Nations Security Council has scheduled a vote on Friday on a resolution that would lift sanctions applied against Libya following the deadly bombing in 1988 of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, after postponing the issue yesterday in what the Council President described as a need “to act unanimously.”

Published reports have said France threatened to veto the resolution in a dispute over the huge difference between the $10 million Libya has offered for each of the 270 people killed in the Lockerbie bombing compared with only $34 million in total for which Paris settled its claims over the blowing up of a French UTA plane in 1989, which killed 170 people.

The reports said France wanted more time for talks on more compensation, which it has been holding with Libya ever since the North African country told the Council in August of its readiness to cooperate in the international fight against terrorism and compensate the families of those killed at Lockerbie, as demanded by Council resolutions 748 of 1992 and 883 of 1993.

The United Kingdom is a co-sponsor of the resolution to lift the sanctions, which included a ban on military sales, air communications and certain oil equipment and were already suspended by the Council in 1999 after Libya agreed to hand over two nationals for trial before a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands in connection with the bombing. One of them, Abdel Basset Al-Megrahi, was convicted and jailed for his role.

The Council President for the month of September, UK Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, said the 15-member body was now moving towards resolution of that terrible affair, adding that Libya’s current compliance with the terms of the earlier resolutions could allow it to move back into the international community.

“The Council is also conscious of two factors: One, that the Council, in a matter of this gravity, needs to act unanimously. And secondly, that there are other legitimate concerns pertaining to Libya which still need resolution,” Ambassador Jones Parry said of the decision to postpone the vote.

In related news, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) today removed two petitions by Libya – one against the United Kingdom and the other against the United States – concerning the interpretation and application of the 1971 Montreal Convention arising from the Lockerbie bombing.

The Governments of Libya and the United Kingdom, in one letter, and of Libya and the United States in another, notified the Court that they had “agreed to discontinue with prejudice the proceedings.” The President of the ICJ subsequently directed that the cases be removed from the Court’s list.