Libya’s new man at the United Nations

Libya’s new man at the United Nations

According to Reuters, Colonel Gaddafi has designated a new man at the United Nations. Apparently, breaking down in tears and begging for international sanctions was not considered helpful:

Libya has appointed ex-foreign minister Ali Abdussalam Treki as its U.N. envoy in New York, replacing an ambassador who renounced the Libyan leadership, the United Nations said on Friday.

"The Secretary-General (Ban Ki-moon) has received correspondence from the Libyan authorities," U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said. "That correspondence names Dr. Treki as the person they wish to have as the permanent representative of their country."

It is not clear whether Treki, one of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s most senior foreign policy advisers and a former president of the U.N. General Assembly, will ever take up the post as Libyan ambassador to the United Nations.

In theory, Gaddafi has the right to name his U.N. envoys.

"Libya is a recognized member of the United Nations," Nesirky said. "When any country sends a letter naming the permanent representative, that person is the person who will be recognized as the permanent representative."

Nesirky added, however, that Treki would need to present his credentials to Ban in New York in order to become the Libyan ambassador. The United States has a treaty with the United Nations covering visa issuance, but Washington reserves the right to deny visas under certain circumstances.

It is unclear whether the U.S. State Department would be prepared to give Treki a visa.

In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley noted that the United States had obligations to the United Nations. "But the first step in this process is for Libya to authentically and authoritatively declare who their representatives are," he said.

The lawyers and law professors are going to have fun with this one–does the United Nations have any grounds to reject Gaddafi’s choice? Can the United States forbid his entry if the UN accepts him? There are some interesting precedents: late in the 1994 Rwanda crisis, the Security Council effectively forced out the Rwandan ambassador who represented the genocidal government, although it was clear at that point that he did not represent a functioning government. At the moment, Libya is a more ambiguous case.