UN Security Council on Libya: Killing the International Law

The UN Security Council passed Resolution 1973 on Libya slapping new sanctions on the country and reinforcing the ones it endures due to Resolution 1970 dated February 26. The truth is that the new Resolution erodes the international law to the point of virtually killing it. First, it demands a ceasefire and an end to all violence without specifying which forces are supposed to stop fighting.Normally such demands are addressed to all parties involved in a conflict, but Resolution 1973 carries no statement to the effect, meaning that Libya’s administration is the only side confronted with the demand. What sense does it make to urge a government facing a mutiny to stop fighting and does the UN have the right to de facto side with the rebels trying to overthrow the administration in a UN member country?

The Resolution’s part authorizing measures needed to protect the civilian population sounds strange. It is unclear who is authorized to do so. One could expect the UN peacekeepers or the UN High Commission for Refugee Affairs to be charged with the mission but this is not the case. Instead, all UN member countries willing to partake in the initiative are offered to do the job. The Resolution does ban the military occupation of Libya but does not rule out the use of military force such as airstrikes. In other words, UN Security Council Resolution 1973 formally enables any UN member country deeming it necessary to resort to such measures.

Article 6 of Resolution 1973 establishes a no fly zone over Libya and Article 8 allows all countries to take steps to enforce the regime. The UN Security Council Resolution thus allows whatever countries to attack Libyan aircrafts in the country’s own airspace. Also quite oddly, Article 17 instructs UN member countries not to allow Libyan planes to land on their territories, even though the demand disagrees with a series of international treaties. At the moment countries are supposed to deny landing permissions to Libyan planes regardless of whether they have enough fuel to return home, which is the same as dooming the planes to catastrophes.

Both UN Security Council Resolutions openly ignore the rights of the part of the Libyan population which is loyal to the country’s government. The very wording of the document seems to indicate that the UN Security Council automatically excludes Gadhafi’s supporters from the numbers of the people of Libya. For example, Article 2 of Resolution 1973 says the government must accommodate the people’s legitimate demands but it somehow evades the UN Security Council that the population is entitled to the rights to security and protection against mutiny. Thus, the main UN body responsible for maintaining peace and security across the world counts no members ready to uphold the rights of a large if not the largest part of Libya’s population.

It should be taken into account that Resolution 1973 invokes the escalation of violence, torture, and summary executions but fails to cite any serious evidence. In the meantime the credibility of the media coverage of the developments in Libya is getting increasingly dubious.

The passing of the second Resolution on Libya was not as effortless as that of the first one. Five countries — Brazil, China, Germany, India, and Russia — abstained during the vote, Germany in fact being more honest than the permanent UN Security Council members who could simply block the outrageous Resolution. Russia’s envoy V. Churkin did say the Resolution was prepared in breach of the established practice but did not elaborate on the subject.

Strictly speaking, Resolution 1970 also constituted a violation of a whole array of international laws. A widespread misconception is that compliance with UN Security Council Resolutions is a must, but actually this is true only of the Resolutions it passes in accord with the powers handed to it by the UN Charter. Fr example, the UN Charter does not enable the UN Security Council to submit cases to the International Criminal Court as it did handling Libya’s problem. A potential objection is that the right is granted by the Court’s statute, but the argument is irrelevant from the standpoint of the countries which are not signatories of the corresponding treaty. We are witnessing a totally absurd situation: the countries such as the US, Russia, and China which are not signatories to the treaty concerning the statute of the International Criminal Court passed the case of Libya, another country which never signed the treaty, to this very court. The discrepancy provokes downright contempt for the international law.

It also erodes the international law that the Resolutions on Libya demand that the country abide by the international humanitarian law. The statement shows that — without explaining the motivation behind the approach – the UN Security Council a priori sees the situation in Libya as an armed conflict. Rather, an unbiased analysis leads to the conclusion that the events in Libya constitute a mutiny which is a criminal offense the country’s administration must suppress. The UN Security Council needed to portray the developments as an armed conflict to legitimize the international intervention. It was unwise of Russia to vote for Resolution 1970 as the move invites a similar treatment of the country’s own problems in North Caucasus. Backing the UN Security Council Resolution, Russia’s envoys practically subscribed to the view that a sovereign country has no right to launch an anti-terrorist campaign based on its national legislation but instead has to comply with the humanitarian laws applicable to armed conflicts. Moscow thus made a serious mistake, and quite possibly abstaining when Resolution 1973 was in question was a fairly unconvincing attempt to reverse the wrong move.

No doubt, the UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 are in breach of the international law, and all countries honestly seeking to protect Libya’s civilian population have legal grounds to ignore them.

Source: Strategic Culture Foundation

One Comment
  1. Andrey: I typically do not agree with you but from my standpoint you are right on target (I am heading the local Tea Party – also prior county Republican Chairman – 04). Obviously we will have differing views. When the rule of law there is violated there is no end to what can be done in the realm of evil. Thanks for your above comments. Don

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