S02E08: The Situation in Libya

We gave you a sneak preview of this episode on Thursday. This week we examine the details of the no-fly zone over Libya established on March 17th. Though there has been wide speculation about what is not allowed under this resolution, the truth is that the only thing expressly forbidden is an occupation. After that, any action that the Security Council deems necessary to protect civilians or benefit the Libyan people could be approved.

90 Second Summaries: Season 2, Episode 8
UN Security Council S/Res/1973 (2011): The Situation in Libya

Introduced by Alain Juppé, Foreign Minister of France
Click here to download this summary (pdf)

Status: Adopted by the United Nation Security Council on March, 17th 2011 by a vote of 10-0. Russia, China, Germany, India, and Brazil abstained.

Purpose: By late February of 2011, what started as an uprising in Libya had erupted into armed conflict with forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi pitted against rebels. With no end to the violence in the first weeks of March, pressure grew on the international community to act, with Libyan rebels and the League of Arab States requesting a no-fly zone on March 12th.

Summary: This resolution imposes a no-fly zone and updates S/Res/1970 (2011), which was adopted on February 26th and established an arms embargo. Specifically, S/Res/1973 (2011):

• Authorizes Member States, working with and notifying the U.N. Secretary-General to protect civilians and civilian populated areas in Libya, excluding an occupation.
• Establishes a ban on all flights over Libyan airspace, excluding humanitarian missions and actions authorized to protect civilians or benefit the Libyan people.
• Authorizes Member States to implement and enforce the flight ban, coordinating with each other and the Secretary-General.
• Strengthens enforcement of the arms embargo established by S/Res/1970 and includes mercenaries in the definition of arms.
• Requires States to prohibit Libyan aircrafts from taking off, landing in, or flying over their territory without advance permission from the Committee, unless in an emergency.
• Strengthens the asset freeze imposed by S. Res. 1970 (2011) by removing some exemptions.
• Imposes a travel ban on Quren Salih Quren Al Qadhafi, the Libyan Ambassador to Chad, and Colonel Amid Husain Al Kuni, the Governor of Ghat, both involved directly in recruiting and coordinating mercenaries.
• Requests that the Secretary-General establish a panel of up to eight experts for an initial period of one year, to assist, gather information, make recommendations, and provide reports on progress.

The resolution includes provisions to ensure that the Secretary-General and the Council are immediately informed of actions by Member States to implement and enforce the provisions described above. Though it is widely reported that this resolution does not allow for the explicit targeting of Muammar Gaddafi, it would seem that a scenario could emerge where the Committee is convinced that such an action would be approved as necessary to protect civilians.

Supporters: United Nations Security Council, League of Arab States, Libyan rebels, President Barack Obama, Senators John Kerry and John McCain, etc.

• Though some would like to see more direct measures taken, much of the international community believes a no-fly zone to be a necessary step to ensure that Gaddafi’s forces do not massacre the rebels.

Opposition: No formal opposition, though many analysts and U.S. military leaders have expressed concerns

• Opponents worry about the amount of military force required to actually enforce a no-fly zone. Some Republicans and Democrats have raised questions about the constitutionality of the manner in which the White House undertook U.S. involvement.

Further Links
Full text of S. Res. 1973 (2011): http://daccess-ods.un.org/TMP/1976309.html
Full text of S. Res. 1970 (2011): http://daccess-ods.un.org/TMP/4638633.html
United Nations Security Council Press Release: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2011/sc10200.doc.htm
Washington Post on Arab League’s Request for No-Fly Zone: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/arab-league-asks-un-for-no-fly-zone-over-libya/2011/03/12/ABoie0R_story.html
Al-Jazeera Report on No-Fly Zone: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/03/201131720311168561.html
Washington Times Article on Support of and Opposition to No-Fly Zone: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/mar/6/daley-no-fly-zone-not-video-game/?page=2

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