Western powers eager to help Libyan rebels sell oil from territories they control are ignoring the UN Security Council's sanctions committee, leaving Libyan crude in legal limbo, envoys and analysts say.
Without definitive guidance on the legal status of Libyan oil from the politically divided UN sanctions committee, UN diplomats and traders say the oil could remain virtually untouchable as major trading players take care to avoid running afoul of the UN sanctions.
UN diplomats told Reuters that Security Council members eager to escalate the diplomatic pressure on Gaddafi's government - above all France and Britain - rushed through the two packages of sanctions and may not have foreseen how difficult the UN measures would make it to aid the rebels.
UN sanctions committees are made up of all 15 council members and work on the basis of consensus. Any member of the panel can block exemptions for the rebels.
Russia, China, India, Brazil and Germany all abstained during the Security Council vote to impose a no-fly zone over Libya and authorise military action. Since then, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have become increasingly critical of Nato actions, which they say are helping the rebels, not civilians.
The United States, Britain, France and Qatar are among countries that are urging for the sale of oil from Libya's east, where the rebels have established a stronghold, to help the rebels get funds.