Libya protests: Diplomatic options

Since rebel forces began an uprising against Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi in mid-February, the international community has been weighing, and in some cases implementing, a wide range of measures to bring the conflict to an end.

The main bodies involved have been the UN - in particular the five permanent Security Council members, China, France, Russia, the UK and US - the European Union, and African and Arab regional organisations. Each has their own agenda - and concerns.

Some sanctions have been agreed at the UN but the issues of a no-fly zone, possible military action, and recognition of who represents Libya remain divisive.

Nation/entity No-fly zone Sanctions


UK flag

Driving force for new UN resolution. Wants international and regional support but plays down US claims that force needed against air defences, saying there are "alternatives"

Froze all funds and assets of Col Gaddafi and his family on 27 February. On 3 March, implemented new EU sanctions. Vocal in urging EU to explore more sanctions

Other: Instigated botched SAS mission to make contact with Libyan rebels. Not yet recognised rebel National Transition Council as representing Libya


Russia flag

Vague on specifics. Says next UN step must aim to return Libya to "stability". Insists sovereignty must be respected. Would not accept call for regime change. Unlikely to back military action

Supported UN Resolution 1970 on sanctions amid backing from regional and African allies for the move

Other: Carried out effective evacuation of citizens. Nervous of domestic situation after internet calls for "Jasmine Protests"


France flag

Joined UK in driving for UN resolution. Vocal in support of rebels after criticism of role over Tunisia and Egypt

Along with UK, proposed the UN Security Council resolution passed on Libya on 26 February

Other: Recognises rebels' National Transition Council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people


Russia flag

Cool. Opposes military intervention and could veto in UN Security Council. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called no-fly zone "superfluous"

Backs sanctions as means to apply pressure. Banned all weapons sales to Libya. One arms official said this could cost Moscow $4bn (£2.5bn)

Other: President Dmitry Medvedev fears spread of regional turmoil, saying any unrest in Russia would be quashed

United States

US flag

Actively discussing but insists on UN resolution. Could be implemented in days, US says, but President Obama's aides indicate it may have "limited impact". Has not ruled out military action

25 February: Froze assets of Col Gaddafi, his family and leading officials. About $30bn has been frozen, the Treasury says. Travel bans and arms embargo

Other: Exploring whether UN resolution has flexibility to arm rebels

European Union

EU flag

Leaders vow to "examine all options" but communique at 11 March summit does not mention no-fly zone. MEPs on 10 March overwhelmingly passed a resolution backing a no-fly zone, in line with the UN charter

Arms ban, assets freeze. UN visa ban on 16 people, including Col Gaddafi, increased to cover another 10 more. On 10 March expanded asset measures to include Libyan Investment Authority and others

Other: Foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton met rebels but says recognition of rebels' National Council up to member nations

United Nations

UN flag

Clear divisions within the Security Council. Libyan rebels consider asking UN for no-fly zone

26 March: Resolution 1970 imposes arms embargo, travel bans and asset freezes on Col Gaddafi and his family. Refers Libya to the International Criminal Court

Other: Suspends Libya from Human Rights Council. Appoints Jordan ex-foreign minister as special envoy to Libya. Humanitarian team to go to Tripoli

Arab League

Arab League flag

General accord for the move but rejects foreign military intervention. Key meeting on 12 March. Six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council backs zone

Covered by UN Resolution 1970

Other: Has suspended Libya as a member. Senior Gaddafi aide said to have flown to Cairo on 9 March to meet Arab League

African Union

African Union flag

Has not publicly opposed the move but has long relationship with Col Gaddafi and consensus could be difficult. West may get tacit and unpublicised support but AU members will not want to set precedents of outside intervention in Africa

Covered by UN Resolution 1970

Other: AU commission chief Jean Ping condemned "the disproportionate use of force in Libya"


Nato flag

Discussed with US and EU. Now moving more ships to Mediterranean. Can respond at "very short notice". Insists on UN resolution

Members covered by UN Resolution 1970. Will help enforce arms embargo

Other: Has launched a 24-hour air surveillance of Libya using its Awacs reconnaissance planes

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