By A.G. Noorani
Oct. 29, 2011
One is whether they would have acted as they did if Qadhafi had not abandoned his nuclear programme in 2004. Iran and North Korea will draw their own conclusions. Pakistan and India would feel amply justified in their acquisition of the bomb in the world of today.
The second question that must be faced is what impact will western intervention in Libya have on the world order. The world had barely recovered from the war on Iraq, launched unilaterally, without the sanction of the UN Security Council, and under a smokescreen of brazen falsehoods. There were no weapons of mass destruction. It was a drive for regime change in an oil-rich country. So it was in Libya. “He should go,” President Barack Obama declared on Feb 26. The Security Council adopted Resolution 1973 on March 17. It did not authorise attacks.
Events in Benghazi, such as they were, did not justify a ‘no-fly zone’ by the Council. Still less did the resolution authorise aerial attacks on Libya and military aid to the rebels. Where did Nato come into this at all? The North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 was confined to “an armed attack on the territory of any of the Parties in Europe or North America”. Algeria was included because France claimed that it was an integral part of its territory. The then US secretary of state Dean Acheson said at a press conference on March 18, 1949, that “purely internal revolutionary activity would not be regarded as an armed attack; a revolutionary activity inspired, armed, directed from outside, however, was a different matter”.
And what were the US, Britain and France doing in Libya after the Qadhafi regime had collapsed in August? They were there to ensure that he was killed. He was trying to escape in a convoy of vehicles, when a US predator drone and a French warplane hit the convoy. Anti-Qadhafi fighters rapidly descended on the scene and killed him. It was a concerted operation.The UN charter and international law have been torn to shreds. Significantly, the International Criminal Court was brought in shortly after the crisis erupted leaving Qadhafi no option except to fight.
The world is even more insecure after the West’s’ adventure in Libya than it was at the end of the Iraq war. But it is not helpless. It has two remedies; one immediate, the other long-term. The immediate need is for an international inquiry into the death of Muammar Qadhafi and the role of Nato forces in his capture as Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov demanded on Oct 21. “The Nato raid on the convoy had nothing to do with the United Nations mandate to protect civilian population.” It was “not attacking anyone, but just fleeing”. He attacked western assertions that Libya was a model case for dealing with similar regional conflicts in the future.
“We do not want outside forces to interfere in such conflicts — God forbid they happen again — with gross violation of international law, including UN Security Council resolutions. That is why I am convinced of the need to undertake a most thorough investigation into the events in Libya from the point of view of their conformity to international law.”
But how can this be done? The UN Security Council will be hamstrung by vetoes. In the General Assembly, critics will hesitate to come out openly against the US. The best course, therefore, is to set up a manifestly independent tribunal, under the auspices of international jurists of repute. Those who obstruct it in its work will proclaim their own guilt. It will, in any case, collect enough material to provide a corrective to the falsehoods being spread.
The long-term solution is to arrange for the unceremonious burial of what is called R2P — the Responsibility to Protect, the doctrine of ‘humanitarian intervention’ which has no sanction in the UN charter or international law. It all began when the Canadian government sponsored an international commission on intervention and state sovereignty. Its report entitled The Responsibility to Protect was released in December 2001 and was fiercely attacked by Russia and China.
The then UN secretary general Kofi Annan duly set up a high-level panel on threats, challenges and changes in September 2003. Its report A More Secure World: A Shared Responsibility adopted the commission’s approach in listing five criteria for the Security Council to use when deciding on military intervention — seriousness of the threat, proper purpose, last-resort proportional means, and the balance of consequences, namely whether use of force will make matters worse still.
Kofi Annan’s report to the Security Council on March 21, 2005 In Larger Freedom endorsed the criteria. The UN summit of world leaders, held in September 2005, issued an Outcome Document which said that “the international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapter VI and VII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the UN Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organisations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations….”
The emphasis is on the UN unlike the earlier documents. The Non-Aligned Movement opposed the doctrine. What needs to be done is its categorical rejection in the joint statements which leaders of the Third World issue. The doctrine bypasses the Security Council and makes the big powers policemen over the Third World.
The writer is an author and a lawyer.
Source: The Dawn, Karachi