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Military Operations in Libya

Published Monday, October 24, 2011

Military action to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1973 in Libya

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On 17 March 2011 the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1973 (2011), under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which authorised the use of force, including enforcement of a no-fly zone, enforcement of a UN arms embargo against Libya and to protect civilians and civilian areas targeted by the Qaddafi regime and its supporters.

The weekend of 19/20 March saw French, British and US military action begin under Operation Odyssey Dawn. By the end of March command of that operation had been gradually transitioned to NATO. On 23 March NATO assumed command of operations to enforce the UN arms embargo. The transfer of command responsibility for the no-fly zone was agreed on 24 March; while the decision to transfer command and control for all military operations in Libya was taken on 27 March. NATO formally assumed command under Operation Unified Protector at 0600 hours on 31 March 2011.

Military operations have been ongoing for seven months. During that time there have been criticisms of stalemate in the military campaign, allegations over burden sharing among NATO Member States, and questions over the existence of a viable exit strategy.

Following the fall of Sirte and the death of Colonel Gadaffi, Libya’s transitional government declared liberation on 23 October 2011. The NATO Secretary General also confirmed in a statement that a preliminary decision had been taken to end Operation Unified Protector on 31 October 2011. However, he also went on to state that NATO would monitor the situation and retain the capacity to respond to threats to civilians if necessary.

This note does not examine political developments in Libya, including the recognition of the National Transitional Council and the search for a political solution in the country, or the creation of a UN Support Mission in Libya under UN Security Council Resolution 2009 (2011).

Commons Briefing papers SN05909

Author: Claire Mills

Topics: Africa, Armed forces, Defence policy, Military operations

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