The government of Colonel Gaddafi has recently issued a decree abolishing all charges in Libya’s ports in an interesting attempt to avoid the effect of sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council. The Security Council by Resolution 1970 and 1973 has imposed targetted sanctions on certain Libyan individuals and entities (including travel bans and asset freezes). In particular, under, para. 19 of SC Res 1973 the Council decided that:
that all States shall ensure that any funds, financial assets or economic resources are prevented from being made available by their nationals or by any individuals or entities within their territories, to or for the benefit of the Libyan authorities, as designated by the Committee, or individuals or entities acting on their behalf or at their direction, or entities owned or controlled by them . . .
Clearly, this provision was not intended to impose a comprehensive trade ban with Libya as it does not expressly prevent the export of goods to Libyan territory in general (nor importation from Libyan territory in general). The provision is intended to prevent transfers of funds or assets to the Libyan authorities (meaning the government of Colonel Gaddafi). However, if exporters to Libya (or those wishing to export from Libya) are required to pay charges to the Libyan government when their vessels and goods are at a Libyan port, they will be caught by this provision as they will then be making funds available to the Libyan authorities. So some smart lawyer must have told the Libyan government that in order to avoid what will in effect be a comprehensive ban on trade with Gaddafi controlled Libya they need to avoid the port charges.