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UN Security Council to Vote on Libya No-Fly Zone Resolution

The United Nations Security Council during a meeting at UN headquarters in New York, March 17, 2011
The United Nations Security Council during a meeting at UN headquarters in New York, March 17, 2011

The U.N. Security Council will vote Thursday evening on a resolution that could authorize a No-Fly Zone over Libya, as concern grows for civilians caught in fighting between forces loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi and rebel fighters.

Ambassadors met in the early part of the day to go over the draft resolution written by Lebanon, France and Britain that aims to establish the No-Fly Zone requested by the Arab League.

Diplomats said some changes were made, but language authorizing states to take "all necessary measures" to enforce the ban on flights remained. Those measures could include targeted air strikes on Libyan military defenses. But the text excludes the possibility of an "occupation force”"

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé is due at the United Nations for the vote. His ambassador, Gerard Araud told reporters that Juppé’s presence is indicative of the importance Paris places on this resolution.

"It [Juppe’s participation] is to show the importance that my country is attaching to this resolution, which means a strong reaction of the Security Council to the tragedy in Libya," he said.

Araud said he does not expect the vote to be unanimous. But only nine of the Security Council’s 15 members are required to vote in favor, with no vetoes, for the measure to be adopted.

Another diplomat said he expected there would be a lot of phone calls between leaders ahead of the vote in a bid to get the most votes possible.

In addition to the call for the ban on flights, the resolution also seeks to expand and strengthen sanctions imposed by the council nearly three weeks ago in Resolution 1970. The additional measures would include freezing the assets of more individuals and entities, expanding a travel ban, tightening enforcement of an arms embargo and preventing the flow of foreign mercenaries into Libya.