The United Nations' Responsibility to Protect Civilians From Massive Human Rights Violations in Light of the Intervention in the Libyan Crisis in 2011

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Addis Ababa University


The international community was criticized when it decided to intervene, as in Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo, and when it did not intervene as in Rwanda. It was against this background that Kofi Annan argued, in September 1999, in the defense of the individual sovereignty over state sovereignty. He asked, 'if humanitarian intervention is an unacceptable attack on sovereignty, how can we respond to cases as Rwanda or Srebrenica?' In this sense, with the recovery of Francis Deng's 1996 "sovereignty as responsibility" concept, it would be possible to abrogate the categorical imperative of traditional sovereignty; allowing the international community to intervene when the state fails in its responsibility to protect its people against genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes of war and against humanity. The study looks at the creation, development and eventual adoption of the 'responsibility to protect' (R2P) nonn, from an idea promulgated in the 1990s to the development of the norm, and to the eventual adoption of a heavily restricted yet poignant principle at the 2005 World Summit. There is considerable debate over the status and scope of the Responsibility to Protect. On balance, most observers and states believe that it remains a political commitment and has not yet acquired legal force. The purpose of this study is to critically examine the UN's responsibility to protect civilians in light of the intervention in the 20 II Libyan crisis. The responsibility to protect has been central in the discussion of how to deal with the Arab spring revolts that gave rise to civil war in Libya. In Libya, with the help of an UN authorized NATO intervention, the Gaddafi authoritarian regime ended and the former rebel fo rces are now leading the transitional process. Taking in to account the events in Libya, many have questioned whether the concept ofR2P was used not only to protect civilians, but also to fulfill a desire, from the beginning of the mission, for regime change. However, the study argued that it was very difficult to enforce the very intents and objectives of Resolution 1973, because it was obvious enough that Gaddafi was prepared to continue to slaughter his people in a civil war to retain power. Thus, even if some argued that the NATO intervention in Libya acted beyond Resolution 1973, nevertheless, the study strongly argued that the intervening forces have indeed stopped Gaddafi from marching on Benghazi and saved thousands of lives. Keywords: Libya, UN Resolution, Civilians, the Responsibility to Protect.



Libya, UN Resolution, Civilians, the Responsibility to Protect