March 21, 2011
The United States, the United Kingdom, France, and some Arab nations began air attacks against Libya on March 19. The attack is in accordance with Resolution 1973 which the U.N. Security Council adopted on March 17, demanding an immediate establishment of a ceasefire in Libya and calling on U.N. member states to take “all necessary measures” to protect Libyan citizens. If the war continues on a large scale over a long period of time, civilians will suffer.
The military intervention could expand beyond the resolution’s aim to protect citizens and develop into an action to topple the Libyan regime, possibly leading to trampling on the people’s right to self-determination, recognized as a basic principle of the international society.
On February 26, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1970, urging peaceful means to be taken to settle the situation, including banning the export of weapons to Libya and travel abroad by Libyan officials as well as referring the situation to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. The U.N. also sent its special envoy to Libya. However, without having its envoy report on the local situation or determining the effect of the ban on weapons exports, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1973 with 10 in favor, 0 against, and 5 abstentions.
Serious concerns over the resolution were expressed by member states at the Security Council meeting that adopted it. A Brazilian ambassador stated, “We are not convinced that the use of force as provided for in operative paragraph 4 in the present resolution will lead to the realisation of our common objective the immediate end to violence and the protection of civilians. We are also concerned that such measures may have the unintended effects of exacerbating tensions on the ground and causing more harm than good to the very same civilians we are committed to protecting.”
Countries taking part in the use of force against Libya are using the U.N. resolution to justify their action. However, their military action has no framework to be based on with no clear designation of who to be responsible for. The U.N. might not be able to control such action.