India abstains from UN vote; Libya grateful

A UN Security Council resolution has authorised a no-fly zone over Libya.

Updated: Mar 18, 2011, 12:55 PM IST

New York: As the Security Council authorised the use of force in Libya, India abstained from the vote out of a concern that the measures may not worsen the Libyan people`s woes.

Libya has said it was grateful to the five countries, including India, who abstained from voting on the UN Security Council resolution.

"We had to ensure that the measures will mitigate and not exacerbate an already difficult situation for the people of Libya," India`s Deputy Permanent Representative Manjeev Singh Puri said in explanation of its vote.

"Clarity in the resolution on any spill-over affects of these measures would have been very important," he said.
India, Brazil China, Germany and Russia abstained as the 15-nation council voted 10-0 on Thursday to authorise a no-fly zone banning flights in Libya`s airspace and authorised military action to implement the ban. But the Council explicitly ruled out any occupation force in Libya.

The measure was backed by Bosnia, Colombia, France, Gabon, Lebanon, Nigeria, Portugal, South Africa, Britain and the US.

China and Russia are permanent members of the Council and their abstentions allowed the resolution to be adopted. If they had cast a negative vote, or a veto, the resolution would have been killed. The three other permanent members with veto power, the US, France and Britain, voted in favour.

Puri said India has been following with serious concern the developments in Libya, which have led to loss of numerous lives and injuries to many more and deplores "the use of force, which is totally unacceptable, and must not be resorted to”.

Noting that the UN Secretary-General has appointed a Special Envoy, who has just visited Libya, he said his report would have given us an objective analysis of the situation on ground.

Stressing "the importance of political efforts, including those of the Secretary-General`s Special Envoy, to address the situation”, he noted the African Union is also sending a High Level Panel to Libya to make serious efforts for a peaceful end to the crisis there.

“The resolution that the Council has adopted today authorises far reaching measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter with relatively little credible information on the situation on the ground in Libya," Puri said.

Pointing out that there is no "clarity about details of enforcement measures, including who and with what assets will participate and how these measures will be exactly carried out," he said it was "very important that there is full respect for sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Libya."

The financial measures that are proposed in the resolution could impact, directly or through indirect routes, ongoing trade and investment activities of a number of member-states thereby adversely affecting the economic interests of the Libyan people and others dependent on these trade and economic ties, Puri said,

At the same time the envoy re-emphasised that "India continues to be gravely concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Libya and calls on the Libyan authorities to cease fire, protect the civilian population and address the legitimate demands of the Libyan people."

The Security Council resolution effectively authorises the use of force in Libya to protect civilians from attack, specifically in the eastern city of Benghazi, which Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has reportedly said he will storm on Thursday night to end a revolt against his regime.

Acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which provides for the use of force if needed, the resolution authorises member states "to take all necessary measures... to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamhariya, including Benghazi, while excluding an occupation force."

Expressing grave concern at the deteriorating situation, the escalation of violence, and the heavy civilian casualties, the Council established a no-fly zone, banning all flights - except those for humanitarian purposes - in Libyan airspace in order to help protect civilians.

Khalid Kaim, Libyan deputy foreign minister, responded to the resolution by saying: "First of all, we are very grateful for the five countries that abstained, namely China, Russia, India, Brazil and Germany - what a surprise!"

"We also this morning sent a letter to the Secretary General of the UN to give assurances to the international community that we care about our people and we care about the territorial unity of the country," he was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera.

Kaim said the Libyan government would "react positively to the UN resolution, and we will prove this willingness while guaranteeing protection to civilians".