On March 22nd the NATO Secretary General announced NATO's agreement to enforce a UN-mandated arms embargo on Libya within the context of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 and broader international response. This NATO effort has been named Operation Unified Protector and its mission is to assist the international community in reducing the flow of arms and material prohibited by the arms embargo into and from Libya in order to reduce acts of aggression against the civilian population.
NATO's response to the situation in Libya is based on three fundamental principles: added value from the Alliance to the existing international efforts; a clear legal mandate and strong regional support.
Operation Unified Protector will assist in reducing the flow of arms, related material and mercenaries to and from the coastal waters off Libya only.
NATO nation ships and aircraft will conduct operations to monitor, report and, if needed,interdict vessels and intercept aircraft where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that they are carrying cargo in violation of the arms embargo or suspected of carrying illegal arms or mercenaries.
Joint Forces Command Naples is designated as the command headquarters with Vice Admiral Rinaldo Veri of the Italian Navy, Commander of Maritime Command Naples, in command of the arms embargo operation who will, in turn, appoint the Task Force Commander at sea.
The Area of Operation is the Northern sea-bound border of Libya. The NATO contribution to the arms embargo is to be focused on the maritime flank of Libya and airspace above, but outside of territorial waters.
This arms embargo will be done in close coordination with international maritime authorities, commercial shipping and regional organisations. We will ensure the free flow of legitimate shipping to and from Libya. To achieve this we are working closely with the International Maritime Organisation to share information and ensure that ships with legal cargo are able to conduct their legitimate business.
NATO ships under Operation Unified Protector are moving into position and will be augmented by expected contributions from NATO Allies and potentially partner nations over the next several days. Maritime patrol aircraft and other aircraft will also help to enforce this embargo and these contributions are also expected. The final composition of this embargo task force will be known over the course of the next several days.