The European Union has welcomed the UN resolution, and says it is ready to put it into practice.
But diplomats say there are no plans for the EU itself to take part in any bombing, or operations to impose a no-fly zone.
Among individual countries, Britain might do so, although it is not saying when action might take place. It has poured cold water on suggestions that planes could strike “within hours”.
“It is necessary to take these measures to avoid greater bloodshed, to try to stop what is happening in terms of civilians on the people of Libya,” said the UK’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague.
Italy has said it is ready to make its military bases available to enforce a no-fly zone. But the EU is not united.
Germany’s opposition to military intervention has brought warnings of isolation – and some unwelcome praise from Colonel Gaddafi.
By abstaining, Berlin has broken ranks with London and Paris.
The German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle has said the country did so because it saw “considerable dangers and risks” in military action.