UN Security Council approves Libya no-fly zone

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The United Nations Security Council has approved the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya after a vote on Thursday evening.

A meeting in New York City resulted in the approval of a resolution that would mark the beginning of "all necessary measures short of an occupation force to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas" in Libya. The vote on the measure passed with ten of the fifteen members of the Security Council in support and Russia, China, India, Germany and Brazil absenting.

The resolution had been proposed by the United Kingdom, France and Lebanon. In his remarks introducing the measure before the Council, Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, said that "[w]e cannot let these warmongers do this, we cannot abandon civilians."

Air attacks on government forces in Libya could take place within hours, flown by the French and British air forces, after NATO meets to review plans for military action.

In response to the vote, a statement aired on Libyan state TV said that "[a]ny foreign military act against Libya will expose all air and maritime traffic in the Mediterranean Sea to danger, and civilian and military [facilities] will become targets of Libya's counterattack."

Libya's ruler, Muammar Gaddafi, also said that government troops planned to move against Benghazi Thursday night. "No more fear, no more hesitation, the moment of truth has come. [...] There will be no mercy. Our troops will be coming to Benghazi tonight."

The UK ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant, said after the vote that "[t]he international community has come together in deploring the actions of the Gaddafi regime and demanding that the regime end this violence against the Libyan people."

In Benghazi, rebels celebrated the passage of the resolution with fireworks after a live broadcast of the vote was shown on an outdoor projection.