Security Council Meeting on Libya

As I type, the Security Council is meeting for the second time today to discuss the situation in Libya. The council will be briefed by several UN officials. But it was unclear as to whether or not Libya’s rogue deputy permanent representative  (who so forcefully broke with Qaddafi yesterday) or the permanent representative (who is still standing by Qaddafi).  Moments ago, Matthew Lee Tweeted that, in fact, it was the latter who walked into the Security Council chamber for the briefing.

The meeting is behind closed doors, but you can watch the press stakeout right outside the Security Council chambers on a UN Webcast. There are four main options for the security council.  1) Pass a resolution of some sort. 2) Issue a “presidential statement.” 3) Issue a “Press statement” 4) Do nothing.

Both 1 and 4 are not very likely.  It is probably too soon to expect a resolution (which could, for example, impose individual sanctions, call for a human rights inquiry in Libya and/or approve a no-fly zone).  That said, I wouldn’t rule something like this out for later in the week.  These things just take longer to hammer out.

A presidential statement is considered one step “weaker” than a resolution because it does not have the force of law. Still, in some ways it is a tougher nut than a resolution, because to pass requires the ascent of all 15 members of the council.  A final option is a simple press statement, generally read by the president of the council to the press who are waiting outside.  It is not formally voted upon, so lacks some of the political heft of a presidential statement. It does, though, tend to signal that the Security Council is “seized” of the situation, meaning we can expect something more down the road.

A presidential statement or press statement is the more likely route for the Security Council at this stage.  Though as I said before, I would expect something more towards the end of the week, inncluding possible sanctions.

The Security Council meeting is closed, but you can watch the press stakeout live via UN Webcast.

UPDATE: The head of the UN’s Department of Political Affairs (and top ranked American official in the UN Secretariat) Lynn Pascoe just exited the Security Council chambers to brief the press.  Naturally he would not comment on any proposed action by the Security Council, but he did relate some of what he briefed the council.

He characterized the situation as “deteriorating,” saying: “it could get worse.”

Pascoe said he has no independent figures on casualties, and that the some 30 international UN staff on the ground is not in a position to confirm number of casulties and number of deaths.  They are also not in a position to confirm accounts of areal bombardments against Libyan civilians, though they have seen planes and helicopters overhead.

On Qadaffi’s rambling speech today speech:  Pascoe said that “anyone who incictes violence…telling some people to attack others is very dangerous.”  He was particularly concerned about threats of retaliation contained in speech.

No word on when we might hear from a member of the Security Council.

UPDATE II: Libya’s Deputy Permanent Representative (the one who defected) thanks Security Council for meeting on this issue.   He says that after Qaddafi’s statement this afternoon attacks against Libyan people began, starting in the west. He repeatedly said that genocide had started.

UPDATE IV: The president of the Security Council, the representative from Brazil, just read out a press statement.  Here’s my quickly jotted notes:

Expressed grave concern at situation in Libya.  Deplored repression against peaceful demonstrators.  Called for an immediate end to violence and for national dialogue. Called on government of Libya to meet its responsibility to protect its population. Called for security forces to excers restraint.  Called for international humanitarian assistance and expressed concern at reports of shortages. Called for the immediate lifting of media restrictions.  Underscored the need to hold to account those responsbile for attacks on civilians. Expressed concern about safety of foreign nationals in Libya.