Security Council Passes Resolution 1973, Authorizing Use of Force Against Libya

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The full text of the resolution is available here. The key provision is op. para. 4:

4. Authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, and acting in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011), to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory, and requests the Member States concerned to inform the Secretary-General immediately of the measures they take pursuant to the authorization conferred by this paragraph which shall be immediately reported to the Security Council

Note that this does not merely authorize a no-fly zone; use of force is generally authorized for the purpose of protecting civilians and civilian populated areas, so long as there is no ‘foreign occupation force of any form.’ This us a very broad authorization; the formulation does not necessarily exclude a limited use of ground forces, so long as that force is not of such intensity and duration that it constitutes an occupation. Over at Lawfare, Bobby Chesney has more analysis. The intervention against Lybia is set to commence shortly.

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Mihai Martoiu Ticu says

March 18, 2011

That means that bombing Libya, using drones, cruise missiles, sinking Libyan vessels and other military actions without a foreign occupation force are permitted?

jpaust says

March 19, 2011

Yes, "all necessary means."

Nehal Bhuta says

March 19, 2011

The critical question is not what kind of force is authorized, but to what ends. What kinds of objectives are folded into the notion of necessary to "protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya"?

Here's one interpretation of what this requires Libya to do (and what it permits states to use force to coerce it to do), advanced by President Obama today in his statement on Libya:

"Now, once more, Moammar Qaddafi has a choice. The resolution that passed lays out very clear conditions that must be met. The United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Arab states agree that a cease-fire must be implemented immediately. That means all attacks against civilians must stop. Qaddafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi, pull them back from Ajdabiya, Misrata, and Zawiya, and establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all areas. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya.
Let me be clear, these terms are not negotiable. These terms are not subject to negotiation. If Qaddafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences, and the resolution will be enforced through military action."

Nehal Bhuta says

March 19, 2011

Here, according to today's NYT, is the French interpretation of what is authorized:

"While the United Nations resolution specifically justified military action in order to protect civilians, officials in Paris said they were interpreting the language broadly to include the protection of Libya’s armed rebel forces, which have been in all-out retreat over the past week."

shouldberevising says

March 19, 2011

Could the explicit reference to 'occupation' in the Resolution be interpreted so as to limit in any way the obligations of the intervening states under IHL regarding occupation or post-conflict rebuilding? As Marko states the seems to be an intention to limit the intensity of any intervention on the ground, I guess presumably to avoid any suggestion that the intervening states would have 'effective control' over Libyan territory. But surely, given that a highly foreseeable outcome of this intervention is the ouster of the Gadaffi regime (although the stated objective is only the protection of civilians) the states that are now intervening have to bear some responsibility for the factual situation that results from their intervention?

Tina Roeder says

March 22, 2011

According to the recent British and American statements, the military operations in Libya are already going far beyond those purposes stated in the UN resolution: "Now, I also have stated that it is US policy that Gaddafi needs to go", President Obama said today according to news agencies. There have also been similar comments made by some UK officials.
Also, recent history has proven time and again that pure air strikes are not sufficient to achieve any lasting effects on the regimes against which they are directed. We will see ground forces moving in soon enough, I believe; and once they have entered Libya, there will probably be not much other choices than to establish an occupational system.
Thus, it seems crucial that the international community (whoever that truly may be) finally comes to terms with itself concerning the so-called "humanitarian intervention" in general, its objects, its conditions and its limitations. Unfortunately, since it is not only a legal, but also a very highly politized subject, this does not seem very likely for the nearer future.