The arms embargo explained

  • 11 Apr. 2011 -
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  • Last updated: 11 Apr. 2011 16:42

Since the 23rd of March 2011, NATO’s Operation Unified Protector has been enforcing the arms embargo against Libya as mandated by the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973. The embargo, which aims at preventing the supply of arms and mercenaries to and from Libya, is conducted at sea and in the air off the Mediterranean coast of Libya.

HMS CUMBERLAND's Royal Navy and Royal Marine boarding teams carry out a assurance vist. HMS CUMBERLAND is now in direct support of CTF 152.  Pictured: Sea Boat with boarding team  Image by LA(PHOT) Jay Allen

Enforcing this arms embargo means operating in the international waters off an 1100 miles-long coastline (1770 kilometers), in an area of high commercial activity. It also means establishing the right measures to allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the besieged city of Misrata and other Libyan cities.

Use of advanced intelligence gathering technology, notably through the NATO AWACS, is key to ship identification. Close coordination with the shipping industry on the hand, and with the humanitarian community on the other, ensures that both commercial and humanitarian shipping can be carried out with minimal to no impact. These measures also help the detection of unauthorized vessels, which may have the intention of violating the embargo.

Captain Peter Kortenoeven was involved in NATO’s Mediterranean counter-terrorism operation immediately after 9/11. In this video, he outlines what an arms embargo operation entails.