Libya’s president has attacked the permanent members of the United Nations’ Security Council during his first ever address to the U.N. General Assembly.
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi pretends to rip a Charter of the United Nations and Statute of the International Court of Justice as he addresses the 64th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 23, 2009. Gaddafi, in his first ever address to the United Nations, on Wednesday accused the veto-wielding powers of the Security Council of betraying the principles of the U.N. charter. REUTERS/Mike Segar
“The preamble [of the charter] says all nations are equal whether they are small or big,” Gaddafi said in his address.
But he accused the permanent members of the council of undermining other states.
“The veto [held by the five permanent U.N. members] is against the charter, we do not accept it and we do not acknowledge it,” Gaddafi said.
“Veto power should be annulled.”
In a speech that far exceeded the 15-minute slot he was allocated, the Libyan leader read aloud sections from a paperback copy of the U.N. charter, before throwing them over his shoulder on several occasions.
“The Security Council did not provide us with security but with terror and sanctions,” he said.
He said the council, comprising the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China, had failed to prevent or intervene in 65 wars that have taken place since the United Nations was established in 1948.
He called for $7.77 trillion in compensation to be paid to Africa from its past colonial masters, and at one point questioned the assassination of U.S. President John F Kennedy.
“The assassination of Kennedy in 1963 — we want to know, who killed him? Lee Harvey? Why was Harvey killed?” he said, referring to the man who was arrested in connection with Kennedy’s murder and shot dead while being transferred between jails.
Mohamed Ben-Madani, editor of the Maghreb Review, told Al Jazeera that Qaddafi’s speech was a “disaster” for the African Union and Arab and Muslim delegations at the U.N. General Assembly.
“I think the Libyans deserve much better than this. It is a disaster for Arab world opinion. Tearing up the U.N. Charter is shocking, but this should have been expected from the beginning,” he said.
“He said nothing about Libyan human rights and better education [for Libyans]. He said nothing about climate change or the enviroment.”
The five permanent members should lose their veto, or the U.N. should expand the council with additional member states, Gaddafi also said.
“It should not be called the Security Council, it should be called the ‘terror council’,” he said, adding that the permanent members treat smaller countries as “second class [and] despised” nations.
“Now, brothers, there is no respect for the United Nations, no regard for the General Assembly,” he said.
As Qaddafi spoke, the U.S. Senate approved a resolution condemning the “lavish” welcome-home ceremony that Libya gave last month for Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, who was convicted of the bombing of a U.S. passenger aircraft over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1989.
The U.S. Senate demanded that Tripoli apologize for the celebration, which came after Scotland’s justice minister released al-Megrahi, a former agent, on compassionate grounds.
Libya has a temporary seat on the Security Council until the end of 2010.
Iran hits out at Western ‘terror’
Iran’s president has launched a scathing attack on Western powers, accusing them of spreading “war, bloodshed, aggression, terror and intimidation” in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses the 64th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 23, 2009. REUTERS
But he accused the West of hypocrisy — saying it preached democracy yet violated its fundamental principles — and added that it was time for the world to respond.
“The awakening of nations and the expansion of freedom worldwide will no longer allow them to continue their hypocrisy and vicious attitudes,” he said.
He also spoke out against Israel for its “barbaric” attack on the Gaza Strip, “inhuman policies” in the Palestinian territories and what he called its domination of world political and economic affairs.
“How can crimes of the occupiers against defenseless women and children and destruction of their homes, farms, hospitals and schools be supported unconditionally by certain governments?”
“It is no longer acceptable that a small minority would dominate the politics, economy and culture of major parts of the world by its complicated networks, and establish a new form of slavery, and harm the reputation of other nations, even European nations and the U.S, to attain its racist ambitions,” he said.
Already speaking to a half-empty chamber, his attacks on Israel prompted walkouts by several delegations, including the U.S. one.
Under increasing pressure over his country’s nuclear program, Ahmadinejad did not directly address the issue, calling only for the “eradication of arms race and elimination of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons to pave the way for all nations to have access to advanced and peaceful technologies.”
Moments before he spoke, foreign ministers of six global powers demanded Iran prepare a “serious response” by October 1 to demands it halt its nuclear program or face serious consequences.
Earlier in the day, Barack Obama, the U.S. president, took Iran to task for its nuclear ambitions, warning that Tehran was running short of time and urging it to “seize the opportunity” at the talks with the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany.
Hillary Mann Leverett, who has worked with the U.S. National Security Council and state department, told Al Jazeera that Ahmadinejad had “very forcefully” taken on Obama in his address.
“I think Ahmadinejad really put the issue of double standards on the table — double standards over nuclear, double standards over what he called ‘military occupation,'” she said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran has not been forthcoming about its nuclear program and the U.N. Security Council has imposed sanctions against Iran three times since 2006 for its refusal to freeze uranium enrichment.
Tougher sanctions against Iran are being considered if the October 1 talks between the six powers and Iran do not yield results.
In a sign that Russia and the U.S. could be moving closer on how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program, Moscow, which has stood in the way of stronger action against Tehran in the past, also came out on Wednesday to say Iran should not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.
Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, also appeared to suggest that Moscow was moving closer to backing fresh sanctions against Iran, saying that while such tactics were rarely productive, “in some cases sanctions are inevitable.”
“Our task is to maintain a system of incentives allowing Iran to use peaceful nuclear energy but [we] will not allow the creation of nuclear weapons,” Medvedev said after meeting Obama on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
He added that the world should offer incentives “to help Iran make the right decision.”
The U.S. and its allies believe Iran is trying to produce nuclear weapons, while Tehran maintains that it is only building a peaceful nuclear energy program.
Ahmadinejad has said he expects “free and open” discussions at the October 1 meeting but insists that Iran will not negotiate uranium enrichment.
— Al Jazeera and agencies