EU Said to Seek UN’s OK to Seize Migrant Boats on Libya Coast

The European Union is seeking authorization from the United Nations Security Council to take military action against boats used by human traffickers in the Mediterranean Sea, Libyan territorial waters and on Libya’s shores, UN diplomats said.

The U.K., France and Spain, members of the 15-seat Security Council, are drafting a resolution that would give international legal authority to the EU’s military mission for a year to inspect and board vessels smuggling and trafficking migrants across the Mediterranean, according to three UN diplomats who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the discussions.

While EU leaders last month agreed on the need to seize and destroy the boats, the resolution instead would authorize confiscation, said one diplomat. Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin last week told the European drafters that his country will veto any authorization for destroying vessels, a second diplomat said.

The three diplomats couldn’t comment on whether the EU will be able to get Libya’s consent, as the North African country is torn by conflict and run by two rival governments, only one of which is internationally recognized.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini will brief the council on May 11 to clarify and explain operational details of the maritime force, the diplomats said, adding that they hope this will expedite adoption of the resolution.

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