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Arab League calls for UN no-fly zone over Libya

The League of Arab States [official website, in Arabic] on Saturday adopted a resolution calling for the United Nations Security Council [official website] to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. The Arab League declared that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] has been using aircraft to combat civilian protesting, and it is the UN's responsibility [Ahram Online report] to stabilize the situation. In addition to requesting help from the UN, the resolution called on Arab and other international organizations to give humanitarian aid to the Libyan people and to help those trying to leave Libya. The resolution marks a shift in action for the Arab League, which has not responded to the Darfur genocide [JURIST news archive], among other high-profile international issues. The current UN response has been to suspend Libya from the Human Rights Council and to refer the situation [JURIST reports] to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website], which some scholars argue is hypocritical [JURIST op-ed] and shows the need for a more uniform application of international law.

The UN on Wednesday appointed a team of special prosecutors [JURIST report] to investigate allegations that Gaddafi has ordered forces to torture and abduct opponents. Although a probe was launched [JURIST report] earlier in March by the ICC, special rapporteur for torture Juan Mendez [UN profile] clarified [AP Report] that this probe is different because he and his fellow investigators are "independent experts" focusing on accusations that Gaddafi has ordered hospital patients' executions, fired on crowds of protesters and used other extreme tactics against his opponents. Protests in Libya began in February following those that have occurred throughout the Middle East and North Africa [BBC backgrounder], resulting in the resignations of Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak [JURIST reports]. Protesters have demanded Gaddafi's resignation and government reform.

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