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United Nations sanctions Qaddafi and family

After 12 intense hours of negotiations - punctuated by a letter from the Libyan U.N. Ambassador supporting action against his own government - the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to send the unequivocal message to embattled leader Muammar Qaddafi that his brutal crackdown against protesters would isolate him in the world.


The Council moved Saturday to impose sanctions against Qaddafi, his five children and 10 top associates.

CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk reports that the unanimous vote at a late night Security Council meeting imposes an arms embargo on Libya, freezes financial assets of his family and inner circle, mandates inspections of Libyan vessels, and refers the case of apparent government sanctioned attacks against unarmed civilians to the International Criminal Court.

The sanctions also include a travel ban against Qaddafi, his family and his top associates.

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The U.N. Security Council referral of a case to the Hague is the second time in the ICC's history that the U.N. has sent a case to the court involving a sitting head of state. Last year, the Security Council referred Sudan's Omar Bashir to the ICC over Darfur. That vote, however, was split.

The one major point of disagreement in the full-day weekend negotiation was the referral to the ICC. The hesitation of China, Russia and a few non-permanent nations is an illustration of the weighty impact the court is having, reports Falk. By passing the Resolution, they are sending a message that even a sitting ruler of a nation could be tried in the dock at the Hague if there are gross violations of human rights.

While the ICC is recognized by over 100 nations, the United States and China are among the dozens who have not ratified its legitimacy.

Despite a warning against sanctions by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the U.N. Resolution recognized the importance of the near unanimity of world condemnation of Qaddafi, citing repudiations by the Arab League, the African Union, and the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Although there are those who doubt that sanctions can have an immediate impact, particularly since an international criminal court case would take one year to begin, the Council was clear that the measures would send a strong message to those still around the Libyan leader that the international wagons are circling and that time and history are against Gaddafi remaining in power. Falk reports that the message was clear to Gaddafi: he can run but he can't hide.

The council said its actions were aimed at "deploring the gross and systematic violation of human rights, including the repression of peaceful demonstrators." And members expressed concern about civilian deaths, "rejecting unequivocally the incitement to hostility and violence against the civilian population made from the highest level of the Libyan government."

The uprising that began Feb. 15 has swept over nearly the entire eastern half of the country, breaking cities there out of his regime's hold. Qaddafi and his backers continue to hold the capital Tripoli and have threatened to put down protests aggressively.

There have been reports that Qaddafi's government forces have been firing indiscriminately on peaceful protesters and that as many as 1,000 people have died.

The day was consumed mainly with haggling behind closed doors over language that would refer Libya's violent crackdown on protesters to the ICC at the Hague.

All 15 nations on the council ultimately approved referring the case to the permanent war crimes tribunal.

Council members did not consider imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, and no U.N.-sanctioned military action was planned. NATO also has ruled out any intervention in Libya.

The Libyan mission to the U.N., run by diplomats who have renounced Qaddafi, told the council in a letter that it supported measures "to hold to account those responsible for the armed attacks against the Libyan civilians, including through the International Criminal Court."

The letter was signed by Ambassador Mohamed Shalgham, a former longtime Qaddafi supporter who had a dramatic change of heart after the crackdown worsened. Shalgham pleaded with the council on Friday to move quickly to halt the bloodshed in his country.

Earlier Saturday, in Ankara, Turkey's Erdogan urged the council not to impose sanctions, warning that the Libyan people, not Qaddafi's government, would suffer most.

Also Saturday, U.S. President Barack Obama said in a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Qaddafi needs to do what's right for his country by "leaving now."

The White House on Friday announced sweeping new sanctions and temporarily abandoned its embassy in Tripoli as a final flight carrying American citizens left the embattled capital. The U.S. put an immediate freeze on all assets of the Libyan government held in American banks and other U.S. institutions. The sanctions also freeze assets held by Qaddafi and four of his children.

Britain and Canada, meanwhile, temporarily suspended operations at their embassies in Tripoli and evacuated their diplomatic staff.

Qaddafi is no stranger to international isolation.

U.N. sanctions were slapped on his country after suspected Libyan agents planted a bomb that blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 people, mostly Americans.

Libya accepted responsibility for the bombing in 2003 and pledged to end efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. and Libya in 2009 exchanged ambassadors for the first time in 35 years, after Libya paid about $2.7 billion in compensation to the families of the Lockerbie victims.

In Geneva on Friday, the U.N. Human Rights Council called for an investigation into possible crimes against humanity in Libya and recommended Libya's suspension from membership of the world body's top human rights body.

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