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UN Decides On Libya

  • March 18th, 2011
  • Posted by EUEditor

security-council.jpgThe armed conflict in Libya moved towards a dramatic new phase on Friday when the United Nations Security Council voted 10-0 (with five abstentions) for intervention.


The vote took place in New York as the Gaddafi regime moved its forces on the centre of the rebellion against it, Benghazi, vowing reprisals against those who resisted.

Its success in the fighting over the last week had created a sense of urgency, but the public position of the United States and other main players was not certain until late on the night before voting.

The resolution approves all necessary actions to secure a peaceful final outcome in Libya short of a foreign invasion .

It was passed in response to calls from many quarters for a “no fly” zone over Libya, to paralyse operations on the government side, likely to bring on extensive bombing of ground targets.

The text calls for an immediate cease-fire in Libya , the no-fly zone, and  interdiction of ships supplying the government forces; and it declared specifically it would be defending “civilian populated areas under threat of attack”, which would include  Benghazi.


The NATO alliance has been making preparations for such an intervention since a meeting of its Defence Ministers at Brussels over a week ago, see  EUAustralia Online, “NATO ready on Libya …”, 11.3.11.

The British and French governments, main supporters of the move, said they were prepared to act quickly.

“We have very little time left,” said France’s  Foreign Minister, Alain Juppe.

“ We should not arrive too late.”

France has already recognised the National Council set up by rebel groups in Libya as the government t of the country.


For the European Union, Herman Van Rompuy, Council President, and the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, released a joint statement, with some focus on the Arab powers than had been calling for a military moved.

“We fully endorse the U.N. demand for a complete end to the violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians, and finding a solution to the crisis”, they said.

“We underline the important role of the Arab League and our Arab partners. Their cooperation is essential and their role is clearly recognised by the Resolution.

“Europe is ready to implement this resolution within its mandate and competences.”

Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament, was more plain-speaking :

“It was high time for the Security Council to decide. I am glad and relieved that the international community has finally taken concrete action to stop Gaddafi killing his own people. There is no more time to waste to implement the no-fly zone.

“I commend all the countries that promoted actively a firm reaction of the international community against the atrocities committed by Gaddafi and his mercenaries, within the U.N. Security Council and beyond.

“ Now we have to follow up our words with action.”

The Australia Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, who called for the no fly zone option early in conflict, (see EUAustralia Online, “World against Gaddafi”, 28.2.11), today welcomed the UN move.

“Let’s hope and pray it’s not too late,” he said.

“The diplomatic effort has been tortuous; the military effort is now critical.”


Reuters, London, “Reaction to U.N. council vote on Libya”, 18.3.11., (18.3.11).

Maria Golovnina,  “Gaddafi forces push forward as US mulls air strikes”, Reuters, London, 17.3.11.

Giles Whittell, Deborah Haynes, Will Pavia, “UN backs airstrikes on Libya”, The Times, London, 18.3.11., (18.3.11).

Picture UNO