The Senate unanimously approved a nonbinding resolution on Tuesday calling for the United Nations Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya and urged Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi to resign and allow a peaceful transition to democracy.
The resolution, offered by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., has no force of law. And its symbolic impact on U.S. posture toward Libya is uncertain. But the resolution puts the full Senate on record behind an aggressive posture and could bolster a growing number of calls for the United States—which has already sent warships carrying hundreds of Marines into the region—or its allies to take limited military steps in support of Libyans seeking to overthrow Qaddafi. Earlier on Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told lawmakers that all options to address the Libyan crisis are on the table.
“There is a bipartisan consensus building to provide assistance to liberated areas of Libya and to work with our allies to enforce a no-fly zone," Kirk said in a statement.
The resolution condemns "gross and systematic violations of human rights, including violent attacks on protesters demanding democratic reforms," by Qaddafi and urges him to "ensure civilian safety" and "guarantee access to human rights and humanitarian organizations." It also applauds a move by the U.N. Human Rights Council to recommend Libya's suspension from the council and calls for the U.N. General Assembly to vote in support of that step.
Menendez has been a staunch critic of Libya's role in the 1988 bombing of Pam Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and Scotland's 2009 release of a Libyan convicted of playing a role in the bombing. Both the resolution and a Menendez statement issued on Tuesday reference Libya's acceptance of responsibility for the Pam Am bombing, which killed 270 people, including 189 U.S. citizens.