Sovereignty Vs Humanitarian Intervention Politics Essay

23 Mar 2015

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States are sovereign entities that comprise a territory, a population, a legal framework, cohesive force and institutions. Traditionally state is characterised as sovereign when it has no authority preceding over it. In international relations, the concept of state sovereignty is fundamental.

Today, the old concept of sovereignty has gradually eroded as states accept more and more limits on their freedom, and as the rights of individuals become more important instead.

Notably after the League of Nations failed to prevent World War II the United Nations was established in 1945 with the major aim of maintaining international peace and security through effective collective measures and peaceful settlement of dispute, to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character and in promoting and encouraging respect for human right. [1] 

Instances of military force application in violation of the well founded principles of sovereignty and non-interference in a state's internal affairs, laid down under Article 2(4) of the United Nations (UN) Charter, continue to raise questions within the international community.

In light of the difficult or impossible nature of setting out a definition of sovereignty, my challenge is not to exactly delineate what comprises sovereignty, but to better communicate how it works and how it change and transform under new conditions.

This research proposes a framework for analysing issues raised by relationships between the state sovereignty and humanitarian intervention by international organizations. I will examine the traditional duties and aims of the International Organizations and how it has changed with time. I will study the term sovereignty alongside the intervention of IO in internal and international crisis.

My aim is to provide an overview on United Nations - NATO's operation in Libya against the government of Mummer Gaddafi which has been the subject of evolving domestic and international military intervention.

The international response to the crisis in Libya has been remarkably quick and decisive. Where many other cases of mass atrocity crimes have failed to generate sufficient and timely political will to protect civilians at risk, the early response to Libya in 2011 has shown that the United Nations Security Council is able to give effect to the 'responsibility to protect' norm.

Notably, on the 17th of March 2011 United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 1973 establishing no fly zone in Libya airspace and also authorizing member states to take necessary measures in protecting civilians especially the civilian populated area which is under treat alert by Libya Arab Jamahiriya. It was in response to this that the US established operation Odyssey Dawn which commenced on 19 March (just two days after UN adopted Resolution 1973) among other.

The conflict in Libya is by far the bloodiest in a sequence of recent uprisings against regimes in the Middle East and North Africa. Beginning in the port city of Benghazi on 17 February, fighting escalated across the country, with some areas changing hands numerous times during fierce battles between forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi and rebels opposed to his regime. There were consistent reports of widespread and systematic violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, primarily by pro-Gaddafi forces, paramilitaries and mercenaries. [2] 

The intervention in Libya is founded on a growing principle in international law that, where a state is failing to protect its own citizens from systematic violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, other states have a legal right, even an obligation, to intervene.

Notably, when states sign the UN Charter, they pledge not to use or threaten force "against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations." [3] The Charter provides some guidance by explicitly specifying two general circumstances in which force may be exercised.

First, Article 51 of the Charter affirms the inherent right of states to use force in individual or collective self-defence against armed attacks. Security Council resolutions conceivably provide judgments on the merit of self-defence claims. An example is Resolution 1373, which reaffirms the right of the U.S. to act forcefully in its self-defence against terrorist activities and de facto legitimized the U.S. military action in Afghanistan.

Second, Charter VII of the Charter lays out a set of procedures through which the Security Council can authorize uses of force in response to the "existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression." [4] 

Military action in Libya was sanctioned by the Security Council under Charter VII of the UN Charter, which allows for such intervention in the case of a threat to international peace and security which they have interpreted as including grave threats to civilians. [5] 

The military intervention in Libya on the basis of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 raises important questions with regard to the legality and legitimacy of forceful regime change. While the resolution is in accordance with the generally accepted post-Cold War practice of the Security Council, its scope and limits are not entirely clear. [6] 

Essentially, the rationale of humanitarian intervention pulls in two directions. On one hand, from a realist perspective, the inviolability of state's sovereign rights is given supremacy. States are forbidden to use armed forces against the territorial integrity of another state, except for self-defence. Therefore, intervention is not permissible. On the other hand, intervention is justified from a more liberal approach to punish wrongs and to protect the innocent. The United Nations on several occasions have authorized use of force, however, in certain cases some states have acted unilaterally. In this context, it is expedient to look closely into the factors that influence such decisions - singling out the underlying the moral dilemma and the relevant political and legal implications. [7] 

At the end of this research we shall be able to justify the implication of the growing power of international organizations on international system.




There are various definitions given towards understanding sovereignty. Sovereignty is seen as:

"The most extensive form of jurisdiction under international law. In general terms it denotes full and unchallengeable power over a piece of territory and all the persons from time to time therein". [8] 

Krasner identifies four cardinal ways in which sovereignty is commonly used. Firstly, domestic sovereignty which refers to the organization of political authority within a state and the level of control enjoyed by a state. Secondly, Interdependence sovereignty which is concerned with the question of control, for example, the ability of a state to control movements across its own borders. Thirdly, International legal sovereignty, which is concerned with establishing the status of a political entity in the international system. The state is treated at the international level similarly to the individual at the national level. Lastly, Westphalian sovereignty which is understood as an institutional arrangement for organizing political life and is based on two principles namely, territoriality and the exclusion of external factors from domestic structures of authority. Westphalian sovereignty is violated when external factors influence or determine the domestic authority structures. This form of sovereignty can be compromised through intervention as well as through invitation, when a state voluntarily subjects internal authority structures to external constraints. [9] 

There are two major points of view with regard to the concept of sovereignty. The first view is that sovereignty means absolute power above the law and that absolute sovereignty constitutes one of the most powerful and inviolable principles in international law. [10] 

The second view is that it is of utmost significance that states, as the most important subjects of international law do not claim that they are above the law or that international law does not bind them. [11] 

The traditional understanding of sovereignty as independence and supreme authority may be attributed to the work of Jean Bodin. In his view, Bodin asserted that the concept of sovereignty primarily entails the absolute and sole competence of law making within the territorial boundaries of a state and that the state would not tolerate any longer law creating agent above it. He maintains that sovereignty as the supreme power within a state cannot be restricted except by the laws of God and by natural law. No constitution can limit sovereignty and therefore a sovereign is regarded to be above positive law. [12] 

According to Bodin's theory of sovereignty, the sovereign power is bound by international law, which results either from treaties or from divine or natural law. [13] 

Although Bodin's conception of sovereignty as introduced in the sixteenth century was accepted by writers on politics, the majority of these writers held the opinion that sovereignty may be restricted by a constitution and by positive law. However, in the seventeenth century Hobbes (1588-1679) went even further than Bodin by stating that a sovereign was not bound by anything and had a right over everything including religion. [14] Pufendorf refuted the claims that sovereignty is omnipotence. According to him sovereignty is the supreme power of a state but not the absolute power. Sovereignty may therefore be constitutionally restricted. [15] 

At this juncture, it must be stated in clear terms that legal sovereignty is quite different from political sovereignty. Legal sovereignty is the authority which has the power to issue final commands. This is the supreme law making power. Whereas, political sovereignty is the power behind the legal sovereign, or the sum of the influences that operate upon it. This is legally unknown, unorganized and incapable of expressing the will of the state in the form of legal command. But, it is this will that must ultimately prevail in the state. In a narrower sense, the electorate constitutes the political sovereign and in a broader sense the whole mass of population. [16] .


In Prague in 1618, religious tensions within the Holy Roman Empire reached a braking point as a group of Protestants tried three Catholics for violating Protestant rights to religious freedom, found them guilty and threw them out of the window. This action plunged Europe into a destructive war that lasted for thirty years. The war that began as a conflict between Protestants and Catholics became something bigger, as Catholic France took the side of the German Protestants against the so called Catholic Habsburgs.

The governments of Sweden and Denmark, while claiming to be fighting for the ideals of Protestantism also saw the War as an opportunity to gain land. Spain ruled by a branch of the Habsburg family joined the war to protect her interest in the Spanish Netherlands. Much of the fighting took place within the Holy Roman Empire and the number of casualties made the Thirty Years War the most destructive of the religious conflicts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Three treaties which include the Treaty of Osnabruck, the Treaty of Munster and the Treaty of the Pyrenees ended the war in 1648. According to historians, the 1648 Treaty changed the way nation states interacted with each other forever. International Relations scholars have traditionally regarded the Peace of Westphalia as a set of revolutionary documents; creating a new wave of nationalism in Europe and redefining what is meant to be an independent nation. [17] 

Indeed, the Peace of Westphalia is so strongly associated with this model of the nation-state that today's international relations scholars refer to the current model of nations as "Westphalian sovereignty" and describe modern society as living under the "Westphalian system". [18] 

A Westphalian nation-state has two main characteristics: a specific area of land which is considered part of the nation, called territoriality and a ruling structure that has the ultimate power to rule over the nation without yielding to any external agency. [19] 

The latter position is especially important; to be a sovereign nation, authority cannot come from outside the state. Conversely, the authority of a Westphalian nation-state is limited to the boundaries that define the nation's territory. This concept is called territorial integrity and is an important aspect of relations between two Westphalian nation-states. [20] 

The peace of Westphalia laid the foundation for an international order based on independent sovereign states. [21] 

Leo Gross explores the traditional view of the Peace of Westphalia, which was held that the Peace was the starting point in the development of nations. According to Leo Gross, the Peace of Westphalia did indeed usher in an age of nation-states. With the Pope's power waning after 1648, the Monarchs of Europe were forced to redefine their relationships with each other. [22] 

As Gross put it, the key aspects of Westphalia were the concept of sovereignty and the agreement to non-interference in the internal matters of other states. In recognizing sovereignty, each ruler agreed that while there were no equals to the ruler inside the kingdom, there were no superiors outside of the borders. [23] 

The Peace of Westphalia recognized the equality of states as a principle of modern international law. The equality of states was recognized irrespective of their Catholic or Protestant faith and of their monarchical or republican form of government. Both the Treaty of Munster and the Treaty of Osnabruck formally ended the medieval conception of a society of states that is organized hierarchically and thus on the basis of inequality. [24] 

The nation-state was seen as an instrument of effective power and international law was regarded as a law between the free and independent states which were primarily concerned with the promotion of their individual interests. [25] 

The Peace of Westphalia, however obliged states to defend and protect the peace and thereby combined the principle of sovereignty with a duty to co-operate. [26] 


In 1919, head of states met at Versailles conference to create a global IO in the League of Nations. League of Nations was established in the aftermath of World War in other to avoid a repetition of such disaster.

The United Nations was established in 1945 after the League of Nations failed to prevent World War II. This idea was coined by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Its (UN) major aim is to maintain international peace and security through effective collective measures and peaceful settlement of dispute, to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character and in promoting and encouraging respect for human right. [27] 

The idea of sovereignty as absolute authority has never in practice existed. Sovereignty, as a legal principle and a normative claim, is shaped and redefined by the changing circumstances and international environment in which it exists.

Tension between sovereignty versus intervention has been palpable for decades. Some countries stress the enforcement powers laid down by Chapter VII. Others (mostly in the poor world) insist that state sovereignty always trumps, even in humanitarian emergencies.

In practice, since the end of the cold war the UN has been intervening more often in conflicts within (as opposed to between) states. Sometimes it has happened with, and sometimes without, the consent of the governments concerned.

The Preamble and Chapter I of the Charter spell out the scope (including the outer limits) of international concern and the limitations on sovereignty. [28] 

For example, Article 1(1) States that the organization is based on the principle of sovereign equality of member States. [29] Article 2(7) comes closest to defining sovereignty by indicating that the UN is not authorized to intervene in matters essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State. [30] This article could as well be read in light of Article 2(4), which prohibits the threat or use of force to attack the territorial integrity or political independence of any State. [31] Among the specific restrictions on State sovereignty in Article (2) are that States are subject to a good faith obligation to honour charter values and that they must settle disputes by peaceful methods. [32] 

A further criterion that strengthens the principle that the UN Charter is a sovereignty dominated instrument is found in the membership provisions of Chapter II. Article 3(1) States that the original members of the UN shall be States.. [33] Article 4 States that membership in the UN is open to all other peace loving States which accept the obligations contained in the Charter.. [34] Although membership in the UN is exclusively a matter of State sovereignty, an institutional set of limits is imposed: the State must be peace-loving and accept all charter obligations and accept the obligations of international law as developed under the Charter. Article 6 does stipulate that a State may be expelled from the UN if it is a persistent violator of the UN Charter. [35] 

Article 6 puts into perspective the idea that the sovereign equality of States is conditioned by UN Charter obligations and that a persistent violation of these obligations erodes the authority of the sovereignty of the State itself. [36] In short, the Charter supports and seeks to protect and advance a particular form of good governance-oriented sovereignty. It also seeks to discourage other forms of sovereignty associated with State absolutism, which seeks to position sovereignty above Charter obligations.

There are, of course, other UN Charter limits on sovereignty that emerge from the creation of the institutions of decision-making that comprise the UN. For example, Chapter IV, which outlines the composition and workings of the General Assembly, gives the Assembly the power to highlight any issue and mobilize Assembly opinion by making it a matter for international discussion and elaboration. Specifically, the General Assembly States that Article 10 may discuss any matter within the scope of the Charter... [37] In addition, the Assembly has the power to initiate studies and make recommendations [38] . Assembly recommendations may even be a form of soft international law making that might be binding on sovereign States in limited circumstances. [39] 


The legality of humanitarian intervention should be appraised in light of the international human rights norms that have transformed dramatically over the last fifty years. Today, these norms impose much stronger obligations upon states to treat their nationals in accordance with international standards. [40] Several norms are aimed at safeguarding human rights. The Preamble of the U.N. Charter expresses the people's determination to re-affirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity of and worth of the human person," and a dedication to "ensure by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest." [41] These provisions are frequently considered to legally justify or at least encourage humanitarian interventions. [42] Proponents of humanitarian interventions argue that these provisions of the Preamble, along with Articles 1, 55 and 56 create a positive obligation for member states' action defending human rights. [43] 

As noted, after the advent of the U.N., a substantial body of human rights conventions was adopted, exposing participating states to international scrutiny and imposing severe obligations. In particular, the Genocide Convention not only makes genocide an international crime, but authorizes its signatories to "undertake (efforts) to prevent and to punish" acts of genocide. [44] 

In another important decision, the Court specifically stated that due to the importance of human rights, "all states can be held to have a legal interest in their protection". [45] The Court specified that "such obligations derive, for example, in contemporary international law, from the outlawing of acts of aggression, and of genocide, as also from the principles and rules concerning the basic rights of human person, including protection from slavery and racial discrimination". [46] Nevertheless, humanitarian intervention may be justified as protecting basic human rights because such action is not waging war. [47] Where human rights are egregiously violated, a state should consider two conflicting obligations: the obligation to protect nationals abroad and the obligation to avoid the threat and use of force in international relations. [48] If the values embodied in the obligation to protect human rights outweigh those embraced in the obligation to refrain from using force, then a state may interfere to prevent human rights abuses. [49] 

If the use of force is employed consistently with other principles of the U.N. Charter without been directed against territorial integrity or political independence, it "may be commendable rather than necessarily forbidden by the Charter". [50] 

Therefore, if the force is employed for a legitimate purpose, such as to put an end to human rights abuses, it conforms to the U.N. Charter's fundamental principles. [51] 

Different arguments have been advanced to justify using force to rescue or protect nationals abroad. Firstly, an emergency need to save lives; secondly, legitimate self-defense and non-derogation of territorial integrity and political integrity and political independence of the state in whose territory the action occurred. [52] A classical study of the use of force enumerated three conditions under which a state may use force abroad in self-defence to protect its nationals. There must be "an imminent threat of injury to nationals, a failure or inability on the part of the territorial sovereign to protect them and measures of protection strictly confined to the object of protecting them against injury". [53] 


After Iraq's invasion of Kuwait on August 2 1990, the Council delegated its Chapter VII powers to the US- led coalition and did not take up the matter until Operation Desert Storm had finished and a ceasefire agreement had been formulated. [54] 

Initially, the Security Council adopted 12 Chapter VII resolutions on different aspects of the crisis in an attempt to force Iraq to withdraw through the use of sanctions. [55] 

In order to deter Iraq from invading Saudi Arabia as well, on August 8 US President George Bush announced that US troops will be deployed there. Four US objectives were articulated for what was labeled Operation Desert Shield: Kuwait's liberation; the restoration of Kuwait's government; the security and stability of Saudi Arabia and the entire Gulf region; and the protection of US citizens. [56] 

When Iraq ignored the warnings to withdraw from Kuwait, the UN Resolution 678 demanded Iraq to comply with previous UN resolutions asking its withdrawal, and authorized member states to co-operate with Kuwait using "all necessary means" to restore peace to that area. Consequently, Operation Desert Storm began on 17 January and ended in March 1991. [57] 

Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was the first, and remains the only, occasion where a member of the UN had its whole territory occupied by another state. [58] 

It must be noted that the war's objectives far exceeded the mandated mission to restore Kuwaiti sovereignty, and the military action of the coalition force generated new security and legal problems. [59] 

The use of force to destroy the civilian infrastructure of Iraq, continuation of fire against Iraqi troops withdrawing from Kuwait and breakdown of Iraq's internal order were regarded as some of the abuses of the US-led coalition. Even, there was a criticism that the UN hastily started the operation as a result of the US pressure without exhausting all the non-military measures. [60] 

However, after the victory of the UN coalition against Iraq, the UN shared the success and increased its prestige. The US-led military action in the Gulf regarded as an example of stronger UN after the Cold War. But it was also greeted with suspicion. The operation's lack of direct link to the UN made most of the members to have no say in the operation. For example, Germany and Japan, who were expected to contribute monetary resources for the collective action, were excluded from important decision making meetings, which in turn, fuelled their interest in permanent membership in the Security Council. [61] 

The Gulf War was also important for showing that the UN for the first time needed to deal with the humanitarian aspects of a conflict. After Iraqi forces withdrew from Kuwait, the UN, in response to Iraq's pressures on the Kurdish and Shiite populations within its borders, undertake a humanitarian intervention and provision of a "safe haven" for refugees. The Security Council condemned Iraqi repression as a threat to international peace and security, and authorized humanitarian organizations to offer assistance. As a result, the US and other western states (Britain, France, Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Germany) created refugee havens in northern Iraq for the Kurds under Operation Provide Comfort. [62] 


Fighting between the Armed Forces of the mainly Hutu Government of Rwanda and the Tutsi-led Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) first broke out in October 1990 across the border between Rwanda and its northern neighbor, Uganda. The United Nations active involvement in Rwanda started in 1993, when Rwanda and Uganda requested the deployment of military observers along the common border to prevent the military use of the area by RPF. [63] 

In 1993, the UN Security Council created and deployed a small, lightly armed peacekeeping force (United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda). UNAMIR consists of troops from Belgium, Ghana and Pakistan. Its aim was to implement cease fire between Hutu government and Tutsi Rebels as part of Arusha peace Agreement.

The Arusha Accords (also Arusha Peace Agreement, or Arusha negotiations) were a set of five accords (or protocols) signed in Arusha, Tanzania on August 4, 1993, by the government of Rwanda and the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), under mediation, to end a three-year Rwandan Civil War. Organized by the United States, France and the Organization of African Unity, the talks began on July 12, 1992, and lasted until June 24, 1993. [64] 

UNAMIR was charged with overseeing the implementation of the Arusha Accords, the blueprint to end the civil war between the Tutsi-backed Rwandan Patriotic Forces (RPF) and the Hutu-dominated Rwandan government, and to install a new, more representative, government. But because of many unresolved issues between the parties, implementation of the agreement was delayed for months and the Rwandan government failing to produce the transitional government. [65] 

On 6th April 1994, the aircraft carrying President Habyarimans of Rwanda and Burundi President Cyprian Ntargamira was shot down by a surface to air missile on its approach to Kigali airport (Rwanda capital). Within hours, a wave of terror was unleashed by Hutu extremists against Tutsis and Hutu moderates.

The first credible and influential use of 'genocide' came on 19 and 20 April, when Human Rights Watch estimated a death toll as high as 100,000. Until then, reports had portrayed the conflict as a pure civil war, with perhaps 20,000 killed. [66] 

With only 5000 lightly armed peacekeepers the UNAMIR was unprepared and incapable to confront the terror and its goal turned to self-defense and protections of the life of the civilians. "UNAMIR commander wanted to move quickly to seize weapons that had been stockpiled, but were told by the then head of UN peacekeeping Kofi Annan that weapon seizures would not be supported and that UNAMIR was not to take any action without further authorization" [67] and so, the casualties gears up daily. The Security Council had to decide quickly about both the future of UNAMIR and the UN's response to the growing violence meanwhile countries had begun to withdraw their contingents.

While UNAMIR could assist in arms recovery operations, the Secretariat said, this could only be done to assist the Rwandan parties in establishing the agreed weapon-free zone in Kigali, and UNAMIR should avoid 'a course of action that might lead to the use of force and to unanticipated repercussions'. [68] UNAMIR was compelled to return seized weapons to their owners. [69] 

On April 22, the United Nations Secretary General recommended that the UN Security Council beef up and heavily armed or withdraw the peacekeeper from harm's way. The Security Council by its Resolution 912(1994) decided to reduce UNAMIR to a token presence of 270 people. [70] 

"The independent report, commissioned by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, showed a UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda doomed from the start by an insufficient mandate and later destroyed by the Security Council's refusal to strengthen it once the killings began. And it showed UN officials - Annan and then-Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali among them - unable or unwilling to act on information from the field that a massive slaughter was occurring and that they needed to do something to stop it." [71] 

"To contribute to the security of civilians, the Council, by resolution 929 (1994) of 22 June 1994, authorized, under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, a multi-national humanitarian operation. French-led multinational forces carried out "Operation Turquoise", which established a humanitarian protection zone in south-western Rwanda. The operation ended in August 1994 and UNAMIR took over in the zone." [72] 

In July RPF took control of Rwanda ending the civil war and established a new government. UNAMIR continued to support the country by providing humanitarian assistance and helping refugees to resettle. Rwanda decided to let go of UNAMIR since it was unable to respond to the priority need of the country. The Security Council heeded and UNAMIR left in March 1996.



Unlike United Nations interventions discussed in chapter 2, that of Libya has a distinct characteristics which made it a great debate in international studies. In other to understand the circumstances warrantees international intervention in domestic affairs, in this chapter we shall look deeply into the case Libya, her history before and during Gaddafi's regime, the pros and cons of the regime on Libya and its citizens, factors that prompted the 2011 revolution, effect of uprising in Egypt and Tunisia on Libya, brutality of Gaddafi's regime during the revolution and finally the justification of international intervention in the case the United Nations.

Early Libya

In the early 1900's Libya was still part of Ottoman Empire. On 29 September 1911, Italy declared war against the Ottoman Empire saying they want to protect Italian citizens in Tripolitania and Cyrenaica but their primary aim was to take over Libya. The war lasted till 1912 when Turkey let go of Libya and decided to Sign the treaty of Ouchy (Treaty of Lausanne) and thus Libya became an Italian Colony.

When World War 1 started Italy needed their soldiers so they withdrew majority of them from Libya. A political and religious group called "The Senussi" led by Muhammed Idris made a successful attempt by pushing out the remaining Italian troops out of Libya. They therefore granted Muhammed Idris the Emir title. [73] 

Libya is a country located in North Africa. Bordering the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Libya lies between Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west. With an area of almost 1.8 million square kilometres (700,000 sq. mi), 90% of which is desert, Libya is the fourth largest country in Africa by area, and the 17th largest in the world. [74] 

In 1912 to 1927, Libya was known as Italian North Africa. It was later divided into Italian Cyrenaica, the Fezzan and Italian Tripolitania in 1927. In 1934, the Italy decided to name it Libya. Libya gained independent under King Idris in 1951 and became the first country to gain independence from colonial rule through the United State. [75] 

Idris ruled as an old-fashioned monarch, with scant regard for any democratic ideals. For the first eight years his realm was similarly backward, an impoverished region in which a subsistence economy got boosted only by revenues from British and US airbases and by international aid.

This situation was transformed in 1959 by the discovery of major oil reserves. Idris with the luxury now of massive national revenue, began to assert Libya's new independence. Negotiations begun in order to secure the withdrawal of foreign troops from Libyan soil. Libya decided to suspend oil exportation to United State which is an attempt to counter the United States' termination of economic assistance program. [76] But the king's leisurely pace was suddenly trumped in 1969.

In 1969, King Idris travelled to Turkey for medical treatment and Muammar Gaddafi seizing power from him through a bloodless military coup d'état. [77] 

Muammar Gaddafi: Background/History

Muammar Gaddafi was born in 1942 in Sirte, western Libya. He was born into a tribal family called al-Qadhafi. As at the time of his birth, Libya was an Italian colony. Libya became independent in 1951 under western-allied King Idris. Gaddafi was influenced by the Arab nationalist movement and so much admired Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Gaddafi enrolled in military college in the city of Benghazi in 1961, he also spent four months in military training in United Kingdom. After his graduation, his steady rose through the military ranks and became dissatisfied with the rule of the then Libya leader King Idris. [78] 

Commissioned into the Libyan army in 1965, he began laying groundwork for an overthrow of the Libyan monarch, King Idris, whom he considered a pawn of the Western European nations. Qaddafi became involved with movement of young officers to overthrow the king.

In August 1969, King Idris travelled to Turkey for medical treatment and on September 1969, Gaddafi's led group took opportunity of king Idris' absence by staging a bloodless Coup d'état. This movement was said to aim at putting an end to the monarchy in Libya. [79] 

Gaddafi's Regime

Once Qaddafi became the leader, he closed down the American and Britain military base in Libya, he also expelled the few Jews that remained in Libya for the 1967 war, he nationalised the country's oil reserve and forces the major oil company to pay more of their profit to Libya. Thanks to oil revenue that makes Libya debt free. He spent most of the revenue on Libya's million citizens, literacy rate climbed from 10% to 90%, life expectancy goes up from 57 to 77yrs. [80] 

In 1975 Gaddafi published his Green Book which contains the thought of brotherly leader and guide to the resolution. The little green book was to control peoples thought and action.

Gaddafi might not have been the best leader, he might have dogmatic issues but he had done some good works for his country. Under Gaddafi's administration, Libya was 53rd on the United Nations Human development index rank. Gaddafi affirmed free education for all which include the fees of all those studying abroad. With the aim of encouraging farming and boast agricultural products, Gaddafi imposed no tax on agricultural produce.

Since the Islamic practice frowns at vigorous, non interest loan were granted to citizen so that they can build on their personal businesses, the jobless were paid unemployment fee and he delivered basic social amenities like water, electricity, shelter, for Libyans at a subsidised rate.

Despite his weaknesses, Gaddafi also took his inventive philosophies to Africa by suggesting the formation of a United State of Africa, he said "We want an African military to defend Africa, we want a single currency, and we want one African passport" [81] 

On the other hand, his administration was also considered to have promoted various terrorist regime and groups including Iran, Syria, Uganda, and Irish Republican Army among other. With the support of the Soviet Union he fought an unsuccessful battle against Egypt and Syria. His regime aggravated many incidence with the United State which led to the American bombing of Tripoli (Libya's Headquarters) on April 15, 1986.

In 1988, Gaddafi killed over 200 people through his bomb attack on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. [82] 

"After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the US, Gaddafi worked to mend his relationship with the West. In exchange for his help in hunting down Islamic militants his government received concessions from the West, including the easing of various limitations placed against it due to his terrorism of the 1980s." [83] 

Gaddafi's violation of human right and reason for Revolution

Understanding Arab Spring

Arab Spring is a phenomenon that stimulated social movements in the name of political reformation in the Arab world. It began peacefully with pacific resolution in Tunisia followed by Egypt and later spread through Middle East and North Africa. The early movement in Tunisia and Egypt resulted into the collapse of regimes in both countries and creation of new political actors. This 2011 uprisings triggered a wide set of social movements and regime change across Middle East and North Africa.

Situation in Tunisia and Egypt


The Tunisian uprisings were elicited by the suicide of Mohamed Bouazizi, an unemployed street vendor, on December 17, 2010. The uprisings that followed intensified throughout the following months. January 14, 2011 saw 8000 people demonstrating outside the ministry of the Interior in Tunis. This led to President Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali announcing the withdrawal of the administration. He also declared that new elections would be held within six months.

Also, a curfew and a state of emergency were introduced. Ben Ali, who had been in power since a non-violent coup d'état in 1987, left the country the same day. [84] The leader of the Parliament, FouedMebazaa, was appointed as provisional president. At the outset, several representatives from Ben Ali's government were given positions in the new government. However, they had vacate the office after a series of protests. Substantial reforms were introduced and today freedom of speech, press and assembly is practiced. [85] Parliamentary elections should have been held on July 24th 2011. However, they were postponed to October 23, 2011. These elections were followed by reports of high voters, and reportedly, the elections were free and fair. [86] 


In 1981, Hosni Mubarak came to power, a power he held until his withdrawal from the political scene on February 11, 2011. Mubarak became president after the assassination of his forerunner Anwar Sadat. Throughout all the presidential elections until 2005, Mubarak had no real opposing candidates. 2005, however, marked the first presidential elections since Mubarak came to power in which more political parties were able to present a candidate. However, the 2005 election was also met with sharp condemnation for the election not being free and fair enough. [87] 

During the entire Mubarak tenure, there has been a state of emergency in Egypt. The Arab Spring demonstrations in Egypt commenced in January 2011. On the day later known as the "Day of rage", January 25th, 15 000 people assembled in Cairo, remonstrating against Mubarak's administration. At the same time protests took place in numerous Egyptian cities. This was followed by immense protests after the Friday prayer on February 28. The demonstrations continued, demanding new elections, an end to the state of emergency, and more jobs. Up to Mubarak's retirement on February 11, 2011, more than 846 people were killed, and 6000 injured, in the demonstrations. In August the state of emergency was lifted. [88] 

The trial against Mubarak started in August 2011. He was arraigned along with his sons Alaa and Gamal, previous interior minister Habib al-Adly and six heads of security. They were indicted for ordering the murder of more than 800 people during the uprising in January and February. They were also accused for having embezzled substantial sums from the Egyptian Treasury. [89] 

The first round of parliamentary elections was held on November 28th 2011. These elections were distinct by the strong protests before and after the election date. However, the second round of elections in mid-December was relatively diplomatic. [90] 

Notably, that the young Egyptians were inspired by the act of the Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself on fire on 17 December 2010 in protest at inequality and high unemployment.

Effect of Arab spring on Libya and the road to Humanitarian intervention

Unlike Tunisia and Egypt, who experienced quite peaceful uprisings as they forced the respective Presidents out of office, Libya experienced a bloody civil war between Muammar Gaddafi's loyalists and rebels from across the country.

It was no coincidence that the first spark of revolution in Libya was ignited in the city of Benghazi. Religiously conservative, the region has a long history of rebellion against Gaddafi's dictatorship. He routinely roundup political activists from here, imprisoning and torturing them. One incidence in particular had left deep scarce on the community.

In 1996 over a thousand prisoners had been gunned down in cold blood while been held in the Abu salim prison in Tripoli. Benghazi never forget its death. As revolution spread across Egypt and Tunisia, the Abu Salim now became the vocal point for decent in Libya. Anxious to stamp out the bothering protest, on February 15 2011, Gaddafi arrested the family Lawyer, the family reacted furiously by gathering outside the headquarters of the national security. Requesting for the release of their lawyer. In a short while, people began to join the protest and calling for the fall of the regime.

Hanger began to grow across Libya, on the Feb 17 2011, a huge crowd of protesters gathered in Tobruk, their focus was monument honouring Gaddafi's famous green book which detailed his political philosophy.

The activists had learnt from Egypt and Tunisia that for their revolution to succeed they had to let the world beyond Libya to know what was happening. People began to capture the protest and uploaded it to the internet which eventually called the attention of international community.

The next day, 18 Feb, the internet and telephone lines were shut down completely by Gaddafi's administration. Gaddafi realized that in the World Wide Web, Libya had very powerful weapon. (Early videos had already made it to the outside world.

Mass media helped in the revolution, Libyans drove to Egyptian border with memory cards which they handed over to friends and supporters, they then uploaded them from Egypt.

The Arab Spring extended to Libya on 16 February 2011 with protests for democracy hitting the streets. Many of the demonstrators were killed by the Gaddafi command. One week later the National Transitional Council (NTC) was established by what became the Libyan rebels. The rebels began an armed antagonism against the Gaddafi regime aided by NATO air forces. During the struggle the International Criminal Court (ICC) released warrants for the arrest of Gaddafi and certain cabinet members. The rebels wrested against the regime until August 21st, when the rebels entered Tripoli. [91] 

The conflict and intervention in Libya was distinct from other uprisings elsewhere in the region for three principal reasons: firstly, the inhumaneness nature with which Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's regime reacted; furthermore, the audacity, doggedness and promptness with which the Libyan people became militarily organized and capable of exploiting Gaddafi's disintegrating military; and thirdly, the contribution of the international community, in the form of the NATO alliance that was backed up by Arab support, mostly from the Gulf state of Qatar. [92] 

The armed uprising against the four-decade rule of Gaddafi and augmented violence by his government to overpower the rebels headed to civil war, international disapproval, and military intervention backed by the UN Security Council.

On 26th February 2011, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1970, imposing economic sanctions, travel bans, and an arms embargo; freezing Gaddafi's assets, and those of certain other government officials; and referring the acts of violence by Gaddafi's regime to the International Criminal Court (ICC). [93] 

The Council also obligated all United Nations member states to suspension all funds, financial assets, and economic resources, which are on their territories and which are possessed or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the individuals or entities listed in the resolution. [94] 

On 17th March 2011, the UN Security Council passed resolution 1973 with 10-0 vote and five abstaining. The Resolution authorized the establishment of a no-fly zone, and approved Member States, acting either alone or through regional organizations or arrangements, "to take all obligatory measures to protect nationals under threat of attack in the country, including Benghazi." [95] 

According to the Security Council, states which voted for the resolution agreed that the strong action was necessary "solely to safeguard civilians from further harm" because the Gaddafi regime was about to release more ferocity on the civilians in the opposition strongholds in the Eastern part of the country [96] 

Two days later, a coalition of states including the United States, the United Kingdom, and France began to carry out air strikes against military targets in Libya. By the end of March 2011, NATO had took over the international military operation in Libya. [97] 

Regime transformation has usually been initiated and carried out by single states and alliances of states outside the international institutional framework and without approval by the United Nations Security Council. [98] 

We should note that Chapter VII of the UN Charter through Articles 39, 41 and 42 enable the Security Council to sanction military enforcement action to preserve and reinstate peace and security, only in cases where it finds a menace to international peace and security [99] 

"However, NATO's incomparable military proficiencies provide operations with 'muscle and teeth'. Coordination and combination of NATO and UN possessions allows for new collaborations. In case of Libya, NATO members already had interest in conjoining with UN to obtain a Security Council mandate for the use of force. Yet ones the allied 'stand-alone' intervention had begun, the UN became reliant on NATO to influence the conduct of military operations". [100] 

"Gaddafi was killed outside of Sirte on 20 October after an American Marauder and a French warplane stopped his convoy during his escape. According to reports, the NATO attack destroyed two vehicles, neither of which held the dictator. However, the vehicles were forced to scatter, and when rebels came to the scene, Gaddafi was beaten and killed by opposition fighters." [101] 


*re-type intro and aims*


The adoption of Resolution 1973 by UN Security Council, which imposed as ban on all flights in the airspace of Libya in order to help protect civilians, excluded flights evacuating foreign nationals and any other flights not authorized to enforce the no-fly zone. [102] 

On 27th March, 2011, NATO officially took command of the military operations previously directed by the US, UK and France. The NATO member governments claimed the support of the international community and an appeal from League of Arab States on the back of the UN resolutions. In a 2002 Prague summit communiqué, NATO agreed that allies must be able to field forces that move quickly to wherever they are needed, sustain operations over distance and time and achieve their objectives. The communiqué marks the moment that NATO decided to assume responsibilities around the globe. "The allies made a commitment to build capabilities necessary to go out of area. They agreed to establish a NATO Response Force of 20,000 troops for rapid insertion into theater of operations". [103] 

Three reasons have been given to explain NATO's intervention in Libya. First, an internationally recognized humanitarian disaster was unfolding in which former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi was launching a brutal onslaught against Libyan protestors. Crucially, this disaster was taking place in a unique political context, represented by the public revolts sweeping the Arab region against what had long been perceived to be unshakable dictatorships. [104] 

Secondly, the Arab League, which by then had already suspended Libya's membership, issued an unprecedented call asking the international community to intervene to protect the Libyan people. Thirdly, UN Security Council Resolution 1973 authorized Member States, acting nationally or through regional organizations, "to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat". [105] 

The resolution provided for the protection of civilians, the imposition of a no-fly zone, enforcement of an arms embargo, a ban on flights and the freezing of assets. Over and above this perfect context, the decision of four Arab partner countries, namely, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates to join NATO's efforts in Libya as well as the decision of


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