Goodbye, no-fly

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 ...

By
LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images
LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images
LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images

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.

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.

Follow me on Twitter @columlynch

Colum Lynch was a staff writer at Foreign Policy between 2010 and 2022. Twitter: @columlynch

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.