The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously yesterday to end the NATO-led no-fly zone over Libya, marking the conclusion of a controversial military conflict that deeply divided the 15-nation security body, but ended with the collapse of one of the world’s most reviled dictatorships. Yesterday’s action came one week after Africa’s longest ruling leader, Col. Muammar ...
The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously yesterday to end the NATO-led no-fly zone over Libya, marking the conclusion of a controversial military conflict that deeply divided the 15-nation security body, but ended with the collapse of one of the world’s most reviled dictatorships.
Yesterday’s action came one week after Africa’s longest ruling leader, Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi, was killed in the custody of militia fighting under the banner of the National Transitional Council. The Security Council decided to terminate by Oct. 31 a U.N. mandate which has permitted foreign forces to enforce a no-fly zone and to use military force to protect civilians during the past seven months.
Following the vote, U.S. ambassador Susan Rice hailed the council’s role in halting Qaddafi’s crackdown on civilians and unmitigated success.
“For the United Nations Security Council, this closes what I think history will judge to be a proud chapter in the Security Council’s history,” she told reporters. The council, she added, “acted promptly and effectively to prevent mass slaughter in Benghazi and other parts of the east, and to effectively protect civilians over the course of the last many months.”
The council’s decision ended months of acrimonious debate. China, Brazil, Russia, and India — who joined Germany in abstaining on the vote authorizing the use of force — had sharply criticized the NATO-led military coalition, saying its role in aiding the rebel campaign exceeded the Security Council mandate to use force only for the protection of civilians.
In the end, however, those governments gave their approval to a resolution that welcomed the “positive developments in Libya which will improve the prospects for a democratic, peaceful and prosperous future” for the North African country.
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Colum Lynch was a staff writer at Foreign Policy between 2010 and 2022. Twitter: @columlynch
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