U.N. Security Council authorizes military action against human traffickers off Libya

Workers for the Red Crescent carry the body of a dead migrant in Libya in August.

Story highlights

  • U.N. Security Council approves resolution authorizing European military action against migrant smugglers
  • Operation, authorized for a year, allows naval forces to inspect, seize, dispose of vessels
  • IOM says nearly 3,000 migrants have died this year on the Mediterranean

(CNN)The U.N. Security Council voted Friday to approve a new resolution authorizing European military action against migrant smugglers in the high seas off Libya's coast.

The measure authorizes European naval forces to board ships for inspection, seize and even dispose of vessels suspected of being used by migrant smugglers -- for a period of one year.
    The resolution allows countries to inspect vessels on the high seas off Libya which they "have reasonable grounds to suspect are being used for migrant smuggling or human trafficking from Libya," provided that "good faith efforts" are made to obtain the consent of the vessel's flag state.
    Nations were empowered to act individually or as part of a regional grouping during the course of the operation.
    The resolution also called for migrants to be treated "with humanity and dignity."
    The U.N. has been spurred into action by a string of disasters on the Mediterranean, as desperate migrants, mostly fleeing war and persecution, have drowned in rickety trafficking boats.
    The International Organization for Migration says nearly 3,000 migrants have died so far this year in the Mediterranean -- with 678 deaths in August alone.
    The vote was 14 in favor, with one abstention.