Libya's new flag at the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York (Photo: AFP)
Libya’s interim leaders were welcomed by leaders from around the world, while the new flag of Libya flew outside the headquarters of the United Nations in New York for the first time.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed interim President and Gaddafi’s former justice minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil and insisted the UN Security Council was forced to act to prevent massacres on Libyan civilians.
"Today, we must once again respond with such speed and decisive action -- this time to consolidate peace and democracy” said Ban Ki-Moon, signalling that the mission will not be completed until stability and security has been brought to the country.
He also commended the Libyan rebels on their bravery in standing up to the Gaddafi regime.
“For the past seven months, you have fought courageously for your fundamental rights and freedoms," he told Jalil.
US President Barak Obama reassured the Libyans that the support of NATO will not end, while calling on Gaddafi loyalists to lay down their arms and join the new regime.
"So long as the Libyan people are being threatened, the NATO-led mission to protect them will continue,
"And those still holding out must understand - the old regime is over, and it is time to lay down your arms and join the new Libya.
"Today, the Libyan people are writing a new chapter in the life of their nation. After four decades of darkness, they can walk the streets, free from a tyrant."
The US president responded to criticism of the strategy used in Libya.
"Libya is a lesson in what the international community can achieve when we stand together as one. As I said at the beginning of this process, we cannot and should not intervene every time there's an injustice in the world.
Yet it's also true that there are times where the world should have and could have summoned the will to prevent the killing of innocents on a horrific scale. And we are forever haunted by the atrocities we did not prevent, and the lives we did not save.
But this time was different. This time, we, through the United Nations, found the courage and the collective will to act."
Obama also emphasised the need for a “peaceful, inclusive and just” democratic transition of power.
"To the people of Libya: this is your chance. And today the world is saying, in one unmistakable voice, we will stand with you as you seize this moment of promise; as you reach for the freedom, the dignity and the opportunity you deserve."
President Mustafa Abdel Jalil promised the new Libya would be a vibrant democracy and expressed his country’s gratefulness for the support shown by the UN and the individual countries that helped the rebels overthrow Col. Gaddafi.