UN Must Prevent Libyan Slaughter
3 March 2011
Ramesh Thakur is a professor of political science at the
In 2005, world leaders unanimously agreed that in situations where governments were manifestly failing in their sovereign duty, the international community, acting through the United Nations, would take "timely and decisive" action to honour the collective responsibility to protect people against atrocity crimes.
The United Nations' record on the Arab world is no less patchy than the West's. Having degenerated into internal security states backed by the
Describing R2P as one of his most precious achievements, Annan used its preventive pillar as a prism to mediate in the post-election violence in
The language of R2P refers to state inability or unwillingness as the catalyst for the international responsibility to protect being activated. But often the state itself is the perpetrator of atrocity crimes when security forces, meant to protect people, are instead let loose in a killing spree.
That is the situation today in
R2P provides the normative and political cover to deal robustly, promptly, effectively and, if necessary, militarily with Gadhafi's threat to his people. Action will also help the UN and the West to cleanse their consciences of the stain of being passive spectators in
R2P is narrow - it applies only to the four crimes of ethnic cleansing, genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes - but deep: There are no limits to what can be done in responding to these atrocity crimes. Conversely, global support for R2P is broad but shallow.
Over the past week, the UN Security Council, Human Rights Council and Ban Ki-moon have called on Libya to respect its responsibility to protectand uphold human rights and international humanitarian laws. On Saturday, the Security Council imposed sanctions on
The crisis has escalated beyond the point of return. Calls for restraint are no longer enough. When Gadhafi says protestors deserve to die and his son warns of a river of blood, the world must meet the challenge, not duck it yet again. Helped by many Libyan diplomats defecting en masse and joining calls for international intervention, the Security Council must forthwith implement R2P and declare and enforce a no-fly zone - if Libyan pilots fly, they die.
For Gadhafi's trial at the ICC to be morally credible, it must be backed by criminal investigations of the foreign banks that have parked his ill-gotten gains in violation of global anti-corruption agreements, and public shaming of Africans who elected Libya to the Human Rights Council and Westerners who armed his thugs.
See full article, and March 1st article in the Toronto Star called “It’s time for the UN to hold Gadhafi responsible and invoke doctrine of ‘responsibility to protect’”