From The Nation:
The UN Security Council on Thursday authorised the use of “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya, paving the way for air and naval attacks against the forces of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as he vowed to overrun the rebel-controlled city of Benghazi.
However, according to AFP, Libya announced an immediate ceasefire in the month-long battle against rebels, saying it was complying with demands from the UN Security Council.
Acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which provides for the use of force if needed, the council approved the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libyan territory and the interdiction of ships carrying supplies to Gaddafi’s government.
The vote in the 15-member council was 10 in favour, to none against, with five abstentions. Under the UN Charter, the adoption requires nine yes votes from the 15 Council members and the absence of a negative vote by any of the five permanent members – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. Some observers underscored the fact that the Security Council didn’t speak with one voice on the issue as five abstentions – China, Russia, Germany, Brazil and India – testified to the misgivings among the members over the move. In broad language, the council approved the use of any means short of “foreign occupation” to end strikes against “civilian populated areas under threat of attack…including Benghazi.” The vote marked a dramatic turn in the world’s response to the Libyan crisis after weeks of debate and reluctance by many to intervene, and it comes as rebel forces were said to be on the brink of defeat.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, who flew into New York to press the case for council approval, told reporters that the resolution “must be applied quickly” because of “the urgency on the ground.”
Asked whether France would take part in air strikes, he replied: “France is ready, along with others, to put in action the resolution.” Juppe added that France was in contact with Britain and Arab nations.
Celebrations erupted across Benghazi as word of the vote reached the rebels.
Thursday’s vote came only after the Arab League agreed Saturday to support a no-fly zone over Libya. The resolution “requests” Arab League members to cooperate with other UN members in implementing its terms, and US officials said they expected that several Arab governments would help fund the operation or contribute military assets. In addition to a specific “ban on all flights in the airspace of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” and use of “all necessary measures” to protect civilians, the resolution authorizes interdiction and inspection “on the high seas” of all vessels and aircraft bound to or from Libya provided there are “reasonable grounds to believe that the cargo contains items” prohibited under a previously adopted arms embargo and other sanctions. It also calls on all UN members to stop the flow of “armed mercenary personnel” to Libya.