New York: The UN
Security Council Thursday voted to ban flights in Libya's airspace
and authorized military action to implement the ban, triggering
intervention by individual countries and organizations like NATO.
But the council explicitly ruled out any occupation force in
The 15-nation council voted 10-0 to authorize the no-fly zone.
China, Brazil, India, Germany and Russia abstained. The measure
was backed by Bosnia, Colombia, France, Gabon, Lebanon, Nigeria,
Portugal, South Africa, Britain and the US.
China and Russia are permanent members of the council and their
abstentions allowed the resolution to be adopted. If they had cast
a negative vote, or a veto, the resolution would have been killed.
The three other permanent members with veto power, the US, France
and Britain, voted in favour.
Germany's UN Ambassador Peter Wittig told the council after the
vote that the military option was "extremely difficult" for Berlin
to support because it may involve the UN in a military situation
Wittig, like other countries that abstained, said sanctions and
financial measures may achieve the same result in bringing down
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who they said had already lost
legitimacy to rule over the country.
US Ambassador Susan Rice, whose government had not overtly
supported the no-fly zone, voted in favour, saying, "The council
has responded to the cries of the Libyan people for help."
The council also demanded an immediate ceasefire, which together
with the no-fly zone would constitute actions to protect civilians
against Gaddafi's forces, including aerial bombing.
Gaddafi earlier Thursday warned on national radio of a bloodbath
in the opposition stronghold of Benghazi if rebels do not give up
their arms. Gaddafi threatened to unleash his forces on the
eastern Libyan city in a matter of hours.
Gaddafi's military has also threatened retaliation against forces
in the Mediterranean Sea for any foreign intervention in the
"All military and civilian air and sea vessels in the
Mediterranean Sea will become targets of the Libyan retaliation,"
a spokesperson for the military told Libyan media.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, in New York to push for
passage, vowed before the vote that France was prepared to act
Juppe said his country, Britain, some Arab countries and possibly
the US were "ready to take action" to implement the resolution.
"We cannot abandon the civilians in Libya," Juppe said just before
the vote. "France wants to contribute all its strengths with the
US, Britain and others to implement the resolution and the no-fly
zone is the only means to protect the civilians."
The council demanded the Libyan regime put an end to all attacks
and abuses of civilians and comply with international humanitarian
law, human rights and refugee law and protect civilians.
The authorization to use "all necessary means" to implement the
resolution implies unilateral action by countries or in
coordination with organizations to implement the no-fly zone.
The phrase "all necessary means" implies use of military force to
implement the so-called no-fly zone, which had been the topic of
discussion in the past two weeks.
Individual countries or organizations that plan to implement the
no-fly zone are called to notify the UN secretary general and the
League of Arab States before taking action. The League March 12
supported the no-fly zone as a way to stop the killing of
civilians by Gaddafi's forces.
The League of Arab States was asked to coordinate with the UN
secretary general on the measures they are taking to implement the
The arms embargo imposed on Libya by the council Feb 26 was
modified to allow actions by individual countries or organizations
to inspect in their territories, including seaports, airports and
on the high seas, all vessels and aircraft bound to and from Libya
if there are reasonable grounds to believe that they are carrying
weapons and military materials.
Mercenaries currently assisting Gaddafi's forces are also subject
to the arms embargo.
Aircraft registered in Libya, owned or operated by Libyan
nationals, and their companies are prohibited to take off or land,
or overfly in other countries or territories unless those flights
are authorized by a UN committee, including in emergency cases.
The freeze of assets ordered Feb 26 was expanded from six to 13
people, including Gaddafi and his immediate family members, and
six entities, including the Central Bank of Libya, Libyan Foreign
Bank and Libyan National Oil Company.