The UN Security Council on Thursday canceled its authorization for a seven-month-old NATO military operation in Libya that led to the ouster and death of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
The termination of the mandate came despite a request from Libya’s interim government for the Security Council to wait until the National Transitional Council made a decision on whether it wants NATO to help it secure its borders.
The 15-nation council unanimously approved a resolution terminating the UN mandate, which set the no-fly zone over Libya and permitted foreign military forces, including NATO, to use “all necessary measures” to protect Libyan civilians.
The resolution said the UN authorization for foreign military operations in Libya will lapse at 11:59 p.m. local Libyan time on Oct. 31.
Britain’s UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant welcomed the unanimous vote, telling reporters it “marks a really important milestone in the liberation of Libya.”
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who repeatedly accused NATO of overstepping its UN mandate to protect civilians, also welcomed the move to end foreign military intervention in Libya. Moscow co-sponsored the resolution.
Although the resolution does not specifically refer to NATO, the alliance’s legal mandate to carry out the air strikes that enabled Libyan rebel forces to defeat Col. Gadhafi’s troops was supplied by Security Council resolution 1973, adopted in March.
The NTC officially announced Libya’s liberation on Oct. 23, days after the capture and death of Col. Gadhafi.
Libyan Deputy UN Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi asked the council on Wednesday to wait before terminating the mandate.
Mr. Dabbashi said the government needed time to assess the security situation in its country and its ability to monitor its borders.
Western diplomats, however, said council members did not want to wait. They said issues such as Libya’s border security fell outside the UN mandate to protect civilians and enforce a no-fly zone.
A NATO official in Brussels, however, said member states of the alliance were free to give further security aid to Libya individually.
The resolution does not lift the arms embargo or other UN sanctions on Libya that have been in place for half a year.
The Security Council on March 17 authorized a no-fly zone and foreign military intervention to protect Libyans from security forces Col. Gadhafi had deployed to suppress pro-democracy uprisings across the country.