Seeing Libya Through
Many of you who have been following my blog posts will have noted my wholehearted support for intervention on behalf of the Libyan people under the banner of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). Since the uprising began mid-February, they have undeniably been the intended victims of a human rights abuses, including rape and murder by their rapacious leader, Muammar Ghadafi. We are quickly approaching three months into the uprising, progress appears to be stalling, and doubts around the rebels’ ability to win militarily against Ghadafi are beginning to surface.
Recent news of Osama Bin Laden’s death at the hands of U.S. special ops and the recent bombings of Ghadafi’s compound in Tripoli present the resolution of this quickly protracting conflict as easily fixable. There is already consensus that Libya can not move forward with Ghadafi at its helm and some have begun to question whether or not it may be easier just to remove him from the equation all together…with the drop of a bomb.
There is some concern that the NATO mission is beginning to enter into the untenable space that is mission creep, potentially affecting the legitimacy of not only the mission in Libya, but also the R2P concept. But I will continue to remain steadfast on my convictions, and clarify that the present situation in Libya is not a civil war; it remains a humanitarian catastrophe and should continue to be treated as such.
We must stay the course. With the most recent meeting of the Contact Group on May 5th, there appears to be continued commitment and support for the mission. And we should applaud the efforts by the U.S. to release frozen assets to the Transitional National Council (TNC) to cover basic costs and humanitarian needs. One of the basic tenants of R2P is the commitment to post-conflict rebuilding and reconciliation. The conflict has yet to end, but we may have to accept that drawing a distinct line between conflict and post-conflict may not be as easy as we would like. Violence is a dirty business, and appropriate actions should be taken in order to prevent the most egregious of humanitarian crises before the dust does in fact settle. Food and medical supplies are already running low.
Finally, let us not forget that what the people of Libya fight for. They fight for a free democracy, one which respects human rights and values the rule of law. We should not play the despots’ game by resorting to extrajudicial killings simply because the alternative is more cumbersome and more expensive? The alternative is to step down off our soapboxes and act as we preach. Great effort has been made since the end of the Cold War to establish an international justice system. Already Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court has announced that he is requesting arrest warrants for Ghadafi and his son Saif al-Islam as well as intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi. Get Ghadafi into court. Present his crimes against his own people to the world.
We have been presented with a historical opportunity. Let us follow through in our efforts to protect the people of Libya, and support their efforts through to live their lives free from fear.
The opinions expressed in this blog are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of Global Brief or the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs.