Interview on Al Jazeera English
Transcript, E&OE, proof only
27 February 2011
JOURNALIST: Mr Rudd thank you for being with us.
Can I ask you first just let us know, what is your understanding of the current situation Libya?
I mean we've had Saif al Islam coming out and saying we want the world's press to come and see that what you've been saying is not true and everything is fine here in Libya and it's all a big misunderstanding.
Was he right in that, I mean what information do you have from on the ground about what is going on there.
KEVIN RUDD: Ah well, the statements just referred to, I think you said by the information, are simply incorrect, they are not factual. Libya is in the middle of civil war and that civil war has now reached the streets of Tripoli.
It seems to us increasingly that the days of this regime are numbered. You see not only the defection of a range of Libyan diplomats from around the world, the resignation of a number of ministers from the Libyan Government but plainly the security situation on the ground is working against the Ghadaffi regime, and its days, I believe, are numbered.
JOURNALIST: If it is as you say a civil war, then is the Security Council Resolution and your own autonomous sanction package announced recently going to be enough.
KEVIN RUDD: The key thing is to see the unity of international opinion on this matter so that those within Libya know that the world is as one.
There is one critical element of the UN Security Council Resolution, which we in Australia have strongly argued for in the last week and that is a reference to the International Criminal Court.
This is critical for the regime in Tripoli to understand.
That is, if they take further actions, of violence, mass violence, against innocent civilians in Libya, it is not just those that issue the orders but also those who pull the trigger who will then become subject to the jurisdiction of the Criminal Court, and it may take some time but the Criminal Court will come after them and eventually get them and bring them to justice as we are to other crimes against humanity around the world.
JOURNALIST: Well the issue here, as you say is that it may take some time, and that in the time that it does take, if it ever does actually occur that we get Ghadaffi to the International Criminal Court, any number of atrocities may be perpetrated and that civil war as you describe it may well prove to be a bloody and very horrendous one, so why is this sanctions package, which really amounts to nothing more than international condemnation as you say, its more rhetoric than fact, why didn't it include an air ban a no fly zone in the area some sort of concrete action that might try and save lives.
KEVIN RUDD: Well let me go to the two parts of your question.
The actual teeth of this UN Security Council Resolution are quite sharp.
Firstly, in terms of targeted sanctions against members of the regime, this is very important. The Ghadaffi family has significant financial assets invested around the world, including in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. This therefore affects directly personal financial interests.
Secondly an arms embargo is essential to prevent the further resupply to military equipment to those military units who are remaining supportive of Ghadaffi.
And thirdly, the Criminal Court reference is important. It is only the second time in history of the UN that this has been done, it's not so much that Ghadaffi himself may take notice of this, but those underneath him must realise that in executing any demand to take violent action against civilians these people who have pulled triggers will be brought to justice.
JOURNALIST: Well alright, let me stop you just there if I could for a moment, forgive me for interrupting, but the point remains, that the fact is, that Ghadaffi has for 40 years now snubbed his nose at the international community anyway.
These threats, these sanctions will mean nothing to him since he has already vowed to die a martyr in Libya, should the need arise, so my question remains, in the between the time that these, um, sanctions that you say are not toothless, they are very sharp toothed when they actually have an effect on the country in some sense, in between that time and now there could still be enormous bloodshed. What is the internationalcommunity going to do if he uses the arms he already has against his own people and starts causing some serious bloodshed.
KEVIN RUDD: Well the first thing I'd say also is that you said that Ghadaffi himself may be contemptuous of these measures – well those underneath him that take his commands may actually be attentive to these measures, because that is the whole purpose of the International Criminal Court.
However, I also believe that further action needs to be taken by the Council.
You mentioned before the desirability of no fly zones over Libya, we in Australia fully support that course of action. In my own correspondence with the President of the Security Council, I have said that Australia fully supports the imposition of no fly zones within Libya itself.
As for other actions by the council, my own view as Australia, as the Australian foreign minister, is that all other options should remain on the table as well.
This is a serious situation, there is mass loss of life, and therefore the international community cannot remain silent and must have all other options on the table.
JOURNALIST: The fact is the international community has remained silent for a number of years now, ever since Gaddafi began this so called rehabilitation in the international community.
To what extent do you think Australia is responsible for allowing this to happen in the first place by allowing Gadaffi to become a respected figure in the international community?
You in fact were Prime Minister when Amnesty International published their last report last year in which they were saying the human rights situation is still dire and calling on people to take more action and yet nobody did.
KEVIN RUDD: Well in terms of international forums our long standing view has been that human rights obligations are universal and not particular to any country or any group of people at any time. Our position on human rights has been constant.
The position that I have taken, reflected in statements of mine from the end of last year has spoken very loudly and clearly about global democratic deficits and that includes of course in countries like Libya.
Can I further go on to another point and that is, the reason the international community in the last decade, led by the US, led by the Europeans and others in relation to Ghadaffi, was to engineer an arrangement whereby he stepped away from a program of further development of weapons of mass destruction. That was the nature of the undertaking then and those were the reasons why international governments around the world began to adopt a different approach to Libya that did not however, mean that human rights abuses stopped there and then, they did not, they have continued.
JOURNALIST: You talked about the freezing of his assets, and you say that it may well be an effective sanction, um the Sydney Morning Herald has an article this morning saying that the suspect Ghadaffi and his sons may millions of investments in Australia, what can you tell us about that and how hard are you going to go after them.
KEVIN RUDD: Well the first thing is, that it is only after the imposition of autonomous sanctions that we in Australia had the legal footing to investigate the holding of assets within Australia as well.
On the core of your question, we will deploy every single resource to track down what assets Ghadaffi, and we've listed other key members of family in the regime, may have within Australia. We will undertake our obligations on that, as I am sure the British will as well and others where we either suspect or know that Ghadaffi has assets. This is one element of the international response, the objective of which is to cause Ghadaffi to go.
JOURNALIST: Let's assume for a moment that going is in his best interests.
You mentioned a moment ago when he gave up his nuclear weapons, you thought it was a good way of encouraging further progress. Would that same approach now work if he turned around and said that he would step down under certain conditions, specifically by this I mean if he wanted international protection. What would Australia's reaction be in that situation? Would you be prepared to facilitate his departure and give him some kind of safety guarantees?
KEVIN RUDD: Our attitude to that, is the actions undertaken by him already, subject to what has already been agreed to by the UN Security Council, must now be investigated by the International Criminal Court with a view to prosecution.
That is what has now been agreed to as a course of action.
In terms of him leaving, that of course is a matter for him. Our objective is to ensure that this series of actions results in a minimum loss of further life in Libya in addition to what has occurred already.
In terms of possible sources of sanctuary for Ghadaffi and his family I'll leave that matter for others who have had a much closer relationship to this regime than we have ever had.
JOURNALIST: Kevin Rudd in Cairo. Thank you very much indeed.
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555