The 15-member council adopted the resolution on Thursday with a vote of 10 to 0, with 5 abstentions. The United States, Britain and France were among those voting in favor.
The resolution establishes a ban on all flights through Libyan airspace, excluding those on humanitarian missions, in order to stop aerial attacks on civilians.
It authorizes UN member states to take all necessary measures to achieve this goal, including military actions.
The resolution also allows member states to take military actions to protect civilians in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi and elsewhere.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice praised the resolution, saying the Security Council has responded to the Libyan people’s cry for help.
But in addition to China and Russia, both permanent Council members, Germany, India and Brazil questioned the effectiveness of military measures and abstained from the vote.
Shortly before the adoption of the resolution, Libya’s defense ministry released a statement threatening all air and maritime traffic in the Mediterranean area in retaliation for any foreign military intervention.