News / Africa

New UN Doctrine Invoked in Libyan Conflict

United Nations Security Council diplomats vote on a resolution during a meeting on Libya at UN headquarters in New York, February 26, 2011
United Nations Security Council diplomats vote on a resolution during a meeting on Libya at UN headquarters in New York, February 26, 2011

The U.N. doctrine known as the "responsibility to protect" is a relatively new concept.

Jared Genser, a lawyer who has edited a book on the subject, explains.

"It is a doctrine that was adopted by the U.N. World Summit in 2005 that says that all states have an obligation to protect their own citizens from the commission of mass atrocities against its population - and that, of course, includes not actually committing those atrocities and specifically, the atrocities described include genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing," Jared said.

Libyan rebels inspect a crater caused by a bomb dropped by a plane in Ajdabiya on Mar 14 2011 as Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi's forces shelled rebel positions
Libyan rebels inspect a crater caused by a bomb dropped by a plane in Ajdabiya on Mar 14 2011 as Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi's forces shelled rebel positions

On February 15, protests broke out in Libya against the rule of Colonel Moammar Gadhafi. He responded with massive force, even using air force planes to attack civilians.

Eleven days later, in what experts such as Genser describe as record time, the U.N. Security Council invoked the "responsibility to protect" and set out tough measures against the Gadhafi government.

"The Security Council resolution that was [unanimously] adopted puts in place banking and financial sanctions against Moammar Gadhafi and his cronies [close friends]," said Genser. "It also puts in place an arms embargo on the country itself, making it harder for them to purchase weapons. And it even referred the case to the International Criminal Court for investigation of potential crimes against humanity and war crimes."

Genser says this is the first time the doctrine was explicitly invoked by the Security Council regarding the situation in a specific country.

But since that document was adopted, Colonel Gadhafi’s army has been regaining territory from rebel forces whose position - experts say - is growing more precarious day by day.

Jared Genser says, "Gadhafi and his regime are fighting for their very lives."

"The sanctions imposed and the referral to the [International] Criminal Court are all potential impacts down the road, but don’t have any direct effect on him today in Libya and don’t do anything to protect Libyan civilians today from the military being unleashed upon it, which has continued to happen, both in terms of air strikes coming from planes and helicopters and also in terms of ground troops going after a civilian population," Gensner said.

And according to Fred Abraham with the organization Human Rights Watch, conditions in Libya are dire.

"We have documented now a crackdown in the capital, Tripoli - a wave of arrests and disappearances, scores of people have been arrested over the past two weeks and we don’t know where many of them are," said Abraham. "And I should add that Libya has a record of torture and political killings, so there’s reason to fear for these people’s safety."

Abraham says the fear in Tripoli is palpable.

"We have noticed people with whom we’ve spoken on the telephone have now begun to say that they can’t talk or they don’t answer the phones at all," he said. "Some people have even been praising the government - those who we know are critical, feel like they have to praise the government on the telephone. So that suggests an atmosphere of extreme repression," Abraham added.

Many experts say that while the current U.N. resolution citing the "responsibility to protect" is strong, it does not go far enough. Some analysts - such as Jared Genser - say a new resolution is needed, calling for an internationally-administered no-fly zone. But others - such as Fred Abraham - believe there will be no international consensus on the issue unless Russia and China, opposed to a no-fly zone, change their minds. Both are permanent members of the Security Council and have the right to veto any Council resolution.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid