U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, NY
November 21, 2011
– as delivered-
AMBASSADOR RICE: Thanks, Mr. Prime Minister. Thank you especially for your exceptionally warm welcome. It’s truly an honor to stand with you today in a free Libya.
You and the people of Libya know first-hand the terrible and grotesque crimes perpetrated by the previous regime. For 42 years, Qaddhafi brutalized the Libyan people, violated their basic rights, and denied them the fundamental freedoms that every human being deserves. I saw the horrible evidence of one of those crimes this morning with my own eyes.
When his forces stood on the doorstep of Benghazi and threatened to continue his murderous reign by committing an even greater slaughter, the Libyan people mustered their courage, the Arab League urged the international community to intervene, and the United Nations Security Council bore its responsibilities. The United States was proud to play a decisive role in crafting the historic resolution to authorize “all necessary measures” to protect the Libyan people, and I was personally proud to cast my vote on behalf of the United States of America. Through tremendous struggle and great sacrifice, Libyans have since taken charge of their destiny for the first time in decades.
I want to congratulate you Mr. Prime Minister and the people of Libya for wresting control of your future from a brutal dictator and charting a path to freedom that is an inspiration to many around the world. And I want to commend you and the NTC on your commitment to reconciliation, national unity, human rights, and the rule of law.
The United States and the international community were proud to stand with the Libyan people during those bleak days in March, and we are proud to stand with you now as you build your new democracy. It’s crucial that you also stand together as Libyans, men and women, young and old. As President Obama has said, and I quote: “As Libyans rightly seek justice for past crimes, let it be done in a spirit of reconciliation and not reprisals and violence.”
We expect that the new government will make every effort to ensure a successful transition, and as you do the United States will continue to be a full partner, supporting Libya as you confront the many challenges ahead. The Prime Minister and I discussed the new government’s priorities, including consolidating all the militias into a national army and police force, securing chemical and conventional weapons, caring for those who fought in the country’s revolution, and establishing a new political system predicated on democratic principles and respect for human rights.
And the United States will continue to work with the international community, particularly the United Nations, to provide the expertise and assistance requested by Libya. The UN’s advance planning allowed it to deploy as the regime collapsed, and its work will be crucial in supporting the provision of humanitarian assistance, in caring for victims, and supporting Libya’s first elections in decades.
As the remarkable events of the past year have unfolded here and in the region, the United States has stood steadfast in support of a core set of principles: opposition to violence and repression and commitment to the universal rights of free speech, peaceful assembly, freedom of religion, equality for men and women under the law, and the right of all people to choose their own leaders. Over the last nine months, we have seen an incredible demonstration of the Libyan people’s determination to ensure that these universal principles guide their nation and their future. We look forward to continued strong partnership between the United States and the new free Libya.
Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.