A Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Upon Adoption of Security Council Resolution n. 1973 (2011)


On 16 March 2011, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Franco Frattini, reported on the Libyan crisis. The Minister made clear Italy’s commitment to the protection of the civil population in Libya. He also highlighted that Italy’s primary efforts and actions are aimed at both safeguarding civilians and assisting the pacific settlement of the crisis. The Minister further observed that Italy concurred with the adoption of Security Council Resolution n. 1970 and the sanctions regime it established as well as with the more severe measures imposed under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The Minister stated:

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is not about waging war, but rather about preventing war and its heinous implications. This is about helping those who are in need and at the mercy of an indiscriminate military offensive. In order to bring such help, it is necessary to resort to the use of force, the rule of law and the duty to protect, as the UN has set forth in the Charter. Resolution n. 1973 is the outcome of the gradual diplomatic efforts undertaken by the international community. Through its adoption and as a result of its violation by the Libyan regime, the page has been turned. The Libyan regime is permanently placed outside the framework of international legality. The Resolution has upheld the prominent nature of the obligation to protect civilians with the most effective means, such as the establishment of a no fly zone. The decision echoes the requests of the Arab League and serves as a political reply to the plea of the Libyan Transitional National Council of Bengasi”.

With respect to the validity of the Bilateral Treaty concluded between Libya and Italy, the Minister specified:

“Until the adoption of Resolution n. 1973, the Agreement could be considered as de facto suspended, yet today, with the entry into force of Resolution n. 1973 and in light of Article 103 of the UN Charter, the obligations under the UN Charter do automatically and unconditionally prevail upon obligations binding upon States as a result of other international or bilateral agreements. Therefore, the legal framework has changed and we are bound to comply with binding decisions of the Security Council. Consequently, the obligations established under the Bilateral Treaty are now suspended de jure and automatically, rather than de facto, as the application of the Treaty would in any event be strictly outlawed by Resolution n. 1973. Honorable colleagues, States, not Governments, are the subjects of international law: this is the reason why we shall look at our future bilateral relationships with Libya in deciding to keep this Treaty which, although de jure suspended, may eventually nurture a preferential relation between Italy and the post-Gaddafi Libyan State.”

The Minister commented upon the humanitarian crisis in Libya, pointing out that new migratory flows could affect Italy. He submitted:

“There are, moreover, humanitarian aspects of great importance. Italy is committed to pursue humanitarian actions, which have already been initiated. […] There is, however, a further and very sensitive issue, that is immigration. […] The possibility that new and increased flows of immigrants might soon arrive from Libya is concrete, and this risk calls for a European strategic plan.”

The full Italian version of the statement can be found at:


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