“As regards to
The encouragement is contained in two Security Council resolutions, number 1970 passed unanimously on 26 February 2011 and number 1973 passed on 17 March 2011 by 10 votes (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, France, Gabon, Lebanon, Nigeria, Portugal, South Africa, UK and the US) to none, with 5 abstentions (Brazil, China, Germany, India and Russia) .
Resolution 1970 imposed an arms embargo on
Resolution 1973 authorised UN member states
“to take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011), to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory” (paragraph 4).
“All necessary measures” is the traditional Security Council euphemism for armed force. The resolution also imposed
“a ban on all flights in the airspace of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in order to help protect civilians” (paragraph 6)
that is, a No Fly Zone.
The Irish Times
editorial of 21 March 2011 said that Resolution 1973 was “binding on
However, it is binding on all member states,
Enough to overthrowing the Qadhafi regime?
Will the provisions of
Resolutions 1970 and 1973 allow
It’s unlikely that the
rather limited economic sanctions in these resolutions will bring down the
regime, certainly not in the short term.
And it is by no means certain that the military action authorised in
these resolutions are sufficient to break the present stalemate, in which the
opposition forces are largely confined to the
On the face of it, by “excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory”, Resolution 1973 bans the use of French or British ground troops to effect regime change, in which case they will have to rely on the opposition forces in the Benghazi area, supported by foreign air power.
Currently, these forces are poorly armed and utterly disorganised. Chris McGreal wrote in the Guardian on 22 March 2011 that “rebels manning an anti-aircraft gun were probably responsible for shooting down the revolutionaries' only fighter plane” .
The questions arises: do the resolutions permit the arming and training of this rudimentary force so that, coupled with foreign air support, it might be capable of overthrowing the Qadhafi regime?
The answer to that appears to be YES. Whereas paragraph 9 of Resolution 1970, imposes an arms embargo on Libya, paragraph 4 of Resolution 1973 cancels the embargo in the context of member states taking military action to protect civilians, authorising member states “to take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011), to protect civilians”.
A further question is: what restrictions, if any, does Resolution 1973 impose on the use of foreign air power against Libyan military forces? A subsidiary question is: does Resolution 1973 empower foreign states to target and kill Colonel Qadhafi and other Libyan leaders?
At the time of writing,
foreign air power has destroyed the Libyan air force and its air defence
systems. This has been said to be
necessary in order to make overflying
In addition, French
planes destroyed an armoured column moving in the direction of
However, it is clear
that, as far as
No doubt, the justification for this will be that so long Qadhafi has any military forces at his disposal he will use them to kill civilians – and therefore destroying them is a measure necessary to protect civilians, within the terms of Resolution 1973, paragraph 4. It follows from this that providing air support for attacking anti-Qadhafi forces would also be within the terms of Resolution 1973, paragraph 4. The possibility of killing large numbers of civilians is the only restraint on this action.
Targeting and killing Colonel Qadhafi and other Libyan leaders could also be justified under Resolution 1973 on similar grounds. After all, since he has said to be giving the orders for his troops to kill civilians, then it’s not too much of a stretch to argue that killing him is necessary to protect civilians.
There has been a public
So, the provisions of
Resolution 1973 with regard to the protection of civilians are extremely
wide. They are being interpreted as
giving carte blanche to attack and destroy Libyan government forces wherever
they may be found. Nevertheless, without
foreign troops on the ground, the likely outcome is a continuing stalemate with
Qadhafi in power and controlling most of
Such an outcome with Qadhafi
remaining in power would be intolerable to
It has been generally assumed that Resolution 1973 doesn’t permit that, since “a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory” is specifically excluded from the “necessary measures”. But, that doesn’t actually exclude a foreign liberation force to overthrow the Qadhafi regime, which, as British Foreign Minister, William Hague, told the House of Commons on 24 March 2011, is a sine qua non of “any peaceful or viable future for the people of Libya” .
No doubt there are some foreign boots on the ground there already.
Why has Qadhafi’s
It is inconceivable
that the governments of
But there is no doubt
It isn’t credible that these governments are motivated by humanitarian concern for Libyan civilians. For them, humanitarian concern is merely an instrument for whipping up domestic and international support for action they want to embark on for other reasons.
Nor are the Imperial Powers motivated by a desire to see
political systems in the
Though Qadhafi has accommodated himself to Western
interests in recent years, and opposes Al Qaida, he has maintained the coherence
of the Arab nationalist state he has built, and retained a form of Socialism in
its structures. This is intolerable to Western interests, which prefer to
see a mess a la