No UN backing needed to impose Libya no-fly zone: Britain
Britain Tuesday claimed that the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya did not necessarily require UN approval, directly contradicting an earlier statement made by the French government.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the action would "ideally" be mandated by a UN Security Council resolution, but added that the United Nations had been bypassed before.
"There have been occasions in the past when such a no-fly zone has had clear, legal, international justification even without a Security Council resolution," Hague told the BBC. "It depends on the situation on the ground."
Hague conceded that the government would have to take "full legal advice" before acting with foreign allies without UN backing, adding: "You would certainly need a very strong degree of international support."
Hague's comments came hours after new French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told the French parliament that there would not be any no-fly zone without a UN resolution.
"At the moment I am talking to you, no military intervention is expected," Juppe told parliament.
"Different options are being studied -- notably that of an air exclusion zone -- but I say very clearly that no intervention will be undertaken without a clear mandate from the United Nations Security Council."
UN support looks unlikely after Russia, another permanent member of the Security Council, hinted it would veto any resolution.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier dismissed Britain's plans for a no-fly zone as "superfluous".
However, British UN envoy Mark Lyall Grant said Security Council action was still possible, declaring: "We are not ruling anything out at this stage."
"We will look at what is happening on the ground and we will look to take whatever measures we consider necessary to respond to events on the ground," Lyall Grant told reporters after the UN General Assembly suspended Libya from the UN Human Rights Council.
Hague welcomed Libya's suspension from the UN body.
"This outcome, which the UK has pressed for with partners, demonstrates the unity of the international community and its commitment to hold the Libyan regime accountable," Hague said in a Foreign Office statement.
"Libya's suspension from the Council is unprecedented," he added. "But it is absolutely right that a regime that has failed so shamefully in its responsibility to its people."
Susan Rice, Washington's ambassador to the UN, Tuesday stepped up the pressure on Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi.
"We are going to squeeze him economically in conjunction with the rest of the economic community," Rice told NBC news. "We'll squeeze him militarily."
© 2011 AFP