ISSN NO. 2581-9070 ONLINE





Pawan Singh

Research Scholar
Deptt. of African Studies
University of Delhi
Email: [email protected]     Contact No.: 8745061605


             The policy of interventionism is pursued by the hegemonic powers like the USA and its powerful European alliance to serve their interest. The anti-west activities of Libya made it USA’s bêtes noirs. Libya was one of the prime spots of western interventionist policy in Africa. Although interventionism is not about direct involvement only, it has other indirect strategies too, such as economic sanctions, supporting the opposition groups, empowering the rebels with weapons and creation of a buffer zone in the neighborhood. In the case of Libya, the intervention had different objectives, not only ending Qaddafi’s rule, but oil resources were also part of their interest. Rule of Qaddafi was not admirable, but his removal made Libya even worse and fragmented than before. Presently, the terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda, ISIS are functional after the ouster of Qaddafi. There was also the Humanitarian perspective on the intervention in Libya. Though the idea of ‘responsibility to protect’ was humanitarian, but the way it was used is questionable. Another consequence of interventionism resulted in fragmentation of political, economic and social structure in Libya. The only positive effect of the intervention was the conduction of democratic elections. In the above context, the paper aims to explore the factors responsible for the intervention in the name of humanitarian purpose. Further, this paper will establish the difference between the causes proposed for intervention by using the UNSC platform and reality with original outcomes of intervention in Libya.

Keywords: Interventionism, Geo-strategic importance, R2P, Western interest.

Interventionism in the 20th century has become a significant issue of debate in the world community. It has evolved as the never-ending practice in international politics. The idea of non-interventionism has been approved by many International Relations theories as one of the major norms of a global society. Wight says “in principle, every state is independent in the management of its own affairs and foreign interference is a violation of its rights. In practice, intervention occurs commonly and adherents of every political belief will regard intervention as justified under certain circumstances. Post second world war period has witnessed a huge number of interventionist incidents during the cold war era. Allied forces became dominant in the post-war era and ideological, geostrategic importance and economic interest motivated them to intervene in other nations.
The USA has been the greatest specialist of the interventionism in both cold war and post-cold war era. End of the USSR made the USA a hegemonic power and world became Uni polar after the end of the cold war. There is no doubt about the capability of the USA to intervene in the south to make its political and economic will fulfilled. The other Western powers like France and UK has set many examples of intervention, particularly in Africa as they have enjoyed long-term colonial rule in the African region. The foreign policies of these powers provide glimpses of the interventionism. As a part of global hegemonic actors, their action invites the debate on interventionism on different grounds.

The idea of Responsibility to Protect

            The idea of legitimate intervention developed properly in the post-cold war era and was the result of emerging military intervention. According to Hoffmann “well before the end of the Cold War, ‘if one cannot control intervention, one can at least speculate…If interventions, like wars, are here to stay, perhaps all one can do is pontificate… to write guidelines distinguishing between what is legitimate and what is not??”. It is quite interesting that major intervention after the post-cold war portrayed humanitarian. The case of Kosovo, East Timor, Somalia, and Bosnia was occurred to stop the violation of human rights.

          The idea of “responsibility to protect” is about the measure, which basically concerned for the elimination of any kind of violation and participation in the activities of atrocities. It is developed to fix the situation of human rights violation in the countries facing violence against humanity. The major concern was to deal with situations like genocide, ethnic conflict, war crimes and a crime against humanity. In 1990 s atrocities occurred in Rwanda and Balkan, and the global community could not take adequate measures to stop the violence. Later military actions of NATO in Kosovo invited criticisms for violation of international law, and use of force. Incidents like this attracted debate on this issue that how could the international community can prevent the violation of human rights by following the international norms.

            In the 1990s the annual report presented in the UNGA, Kofi Annan said “the prospects for human security and intervention in the next century” and challenged the member states to “find common ground in upholding the principles of the Charter, and acting in defense of common humanity”. By presenting 2000 millennium report, he said that “if humanitarian intervention is, indeed, an unacceptable assault on sovereignty, how should we respond to a Rwanda, to a Srebrenica, to the gross and systematic violation of human rights that offend every precept of our common humanity?”. Francis Deng’s said “state sovereignty as a responsibility” and affirmed the idea that “sovereignty is not just protection from outside interference – rather is a matter of states having positive responsibilities for their population’s welfare, and to assist each other”.

           According to the notion of the R2P, major responsibility lies to the states regarding the protection of people, and if the state fails to provide security and protection to its citizens, then the international community can take initiatives to ensure the security of people. After the failure of the state in providing security to its people or in case of involvement of the state in crime against humanity and human right violation then the responsibility of protection will be shifted to the global community. The international community will be free to use options such as diplomatic, humanitarian and any other for providing a safeguard to the people. The final commitment toward the principal of the responsibility to protect adopted in the UN world summit high-level meeting in 2005.
In the world summit meeting of the UN, paragraph 138 and 139 stated that Government and ruling community of the state has all the responsibility of protection during conflictual situations. Under this meeting, all states accepted collective responsibility to deal with such situations and they agreed to extend their support toward the nation facing any such issues. After the adoption of the principle of the responsibility to protect, the United Nation Secretary-General took initiatives by organizing many series to explain the possibilities of the idea of responsibility to protects practical implementation. During the meetings, member states were encouraged to implement the R2P principal effectively.
The idea of responsibility to protect is based on humanitarian principle, which became the core of the idea of global security discourse. The responsibility to protect idea suggests all the concerns regarding security issues. During the humanitarian crisis in Libya, the idea of R2P appealed by the international society to use military actions option in Libya against the large-scale Killings of civilians. Libyan crisis was the result of democratic wave uprising in the Arab world. UN report on R2P is based on two principles first “state sovereignty implies responsibility, and the primary responsibility for the protection of its people lies with the state itself”. Second “in case of people suffering serious harm, due to internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the concerned state’s lack of will or ability to respond, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect”.

            Report of ICISS mentioned all qualifying details of ways for implementing “humanitarian duties” concerned with anticipation and elimination of the issue of conflicts and future reconstruction, with the involvement of all important players by adopting measures to prevent oppressive acts. Three realities can be seen in the nature of the global conflict. First, “arbitrary territorial demarcation ignoring the ethnic-tribal fabrics in the colonial societies”. Second, “Cold-War encampment containing the functional interface between the political regimes and the citizenry and restricting the demographic cohesion in the post-colonial societies”. Last, “increasingly selective unilateral post-Cold War interventions or threat of such interventions of the supra-state actors, led by the extra-regional powers, into the Global South in the name of international mandate”.

Responsibility to Protect: Role of Force to Protect Civilians
Intervention in Libya regenerated the argument regarding the idea of responsibility to protect. It also attracted the dialogue on humanitarian measurement and concept in the first stage. In UNSC, controversy erupted due to the use of harsh measures against the accused nation, because it was somewhere affecting the sovereignty right of the country. Functions and role of the international criminal court became the issue of debate. Since the beginning, the most dominant issue was the use of force in the idea of R2P for the protection of civilians. Since the UN world summit of 2005 on the agreement of the principle of R2P, it was the first time during the Libya crisis, when the question regarding the use of force made controversy, though the same issue was discussed during Kosovo crisis and the report of ICISS in 2001 also. The report of ICISS first time introduced the idea of R2P.
Relations between Libya and west were not cordial during the cold war era and but post-cold war era made Qaddafi realized that without establishing peace with the western powers, it will be difficult to survive in the international world. It compensated the victims of Lockerbie and also gave the program of a weapon of mass destruction. All these acts helped Libya to restore diplomatic relations with western powers. In February 2011, Libya witnessed massive protest against the Qaddafi, they were demanding his removal. In the Libyan city, Benghazi major protests took place. when Qaddafi used forces against civilians and protesters, then NTC was formed in Benghazi as an alternative government. At the beginning of formation, it got recognition from France as the legitimate government in Libya. NTC was portrayed as the representative organization of all the Libyan citizens. To control the situation of civil war in Libya UNSC passed resolution 1970 as a warning to Libyan leadership, but when things went beyond control and Liban people started migrating in neighboring countries due to the insecurity, UNSC Resolution 1973 was passed and a no-fly zone was imposed. it was the major decision to secure civilians from the atrocities of the authorities. UNSC decision to use all vital method to rescue citizens was passed by 10-0 votes and 5 votes abstained.
Within a few days of UNSC resolution, NATO operation Odyssey Dawn launched in Libya. Attempts for mediation were initiated from the African Union side, as they gave their solution of the ceasefire and fair elections in Libya through the peaceful method. Earlier Qaddafi was not ready to leave his position, but later after the consultation with AU leaders, he was ready to accept peaceful measures suggested by the African Union. on the other hand, NTC was not in the mood to negotiate with Qaddafi and they were looking for the total removal of Qaddafi from Libya. After the end of the Qaddafi and post civil war period, the situation of Libya did not improve. It seems more fragmented than before, as there are regular conflicts among local Militia. In 2012 July elections were held in Libya and democratic government was elected, but democracy in Libya is not stable as no party is getting a full majority to form a government. there is a tussal for power among political parties backed by different local militia. During the Libyan Crisis, two phases can be discussed: the phase of protest and the phase of conflict between the government and the rebels. The earlier phase began in February 2011, in this phase Qaddafi’s army repeatedly targeted protesters in the Libyan city Benghazi by heavy artillery. It resulted in the killing of many civilians. The idea of legitimate intervention used in Libya guiding by the principles of responsibility to protect. However non-intervention is important to maintain the sovereignty of nations and humanitarian conditions became the major cause for adopting the idea of R2P in the United Nations.
What should be the role of force in protecting populations from atrocity crimes? The Security Council had mandated the use of force by peacekeepers many times, and although there had been several cases in which the council delegated the use of force to a third party, the Libya intervention was the first time that the council mandated a military intervention to be conducted by a third party, with the explicit purpose of protecting civilians. Role of force and to what extent, became the central idea of the principal. Many peacekeeping missions have been derived by the Security Council by using force and use of force to the third party has been delegated by the Council in the past. Libya case was quite different, as the Council authorized the military intervention by the third party in wake of the humanitarian purpose of protecting civilians.
Consequently, the debate on the Libya intervention provided the first real test case and an opportunity to discuss the criteria for the use of force, regime change and the abuse of humanitarian arguments. The Libyan case generated a debate, which provided an opportunity for the first time to discuss norms and the criteria of using force against a brutal regime on the basis of humanitarian argument. Debate on the idea of R2P can be examined in two ways. First, there is need to focus on the discussion of UNSC resolution 1973 and the way approval of force took place in Security Council among the UNO member countries, which took a controversial decision by implementing the resolution. Second, the debate on regime change, the use of force in the name of humanitarian intervention became major issues after the attack in Benghazi took place against the civilians by the Qaddafi forces.
The motive of Western intervention came under doubt, as NATO’s action indicated towards the motive of regime change. Libyan case becomes a sharp critique of the idea of responsibility to protect as “ugly reality of geostrategic and commercial calculations camouflaged in the lofty rhetoric”. The action of NATO in Libya resulted in the domestic and regional de-stability after the mass destruction in Libya. The end of Qaddafi rule in Libya was forced and American liberal thinker such as Robert Kohen indicated that “it is the event of the revival of moralism in the post-cold war politics”. The motives of Regime change and the Western interest became clear after the war in Libya because the US state department expressed their concern of losing important oil agreement paper during the attack on USA Consulate in Libya.

Outcomes and Challenges
End of the civil war in Libya came with the death of Qaddafi. Implications of the intervention were not for the short term. It affected the Libyan state in many ways political, economic, domestic and social sphere affected by the intervention in Libya. The intervention of extra-regional powers in Libya and its implication can be examined since the advent of Qaddafi. The policies of Qaddafi invited the unending rivalry from the USA and the west. In Qaddafi period consequences of intervention by extra-regional powers can be seen in term of economic sanctions imposed by the Western Alliance from time to time to check the anti-west actions of Qaddafi. Sanctions imposed on Libya in 1986 for supporting International terrorism, 1992 sanctions passed by the United Nation Security Council for Libya’s in involvement in Lockerbie flight incident. Not just economic sanction but other actions were taken against Libya. In 1986 USA launched a massive air strike on Libya for its involvement in terrorist activities under Operation El-Dorado Canyon. Political consequences were also faced by Libya such as United Nation Security Council passed resolution 748 in 1992 and band air travel and weapons sale in Libya. Many European countries ended their diplomatic relations with Libya and shut down the Libyan Embassies in their country.
In 2003 when Qaddafi gave up the weapon of mass destruction program, it restored satisfactory relations with the European powers. Diplomatic relations were also restored with the USA and other European countries. The implications for Libya after the end of humanitarian intervention in 2011 can be seen in the changing nature of its internal structure as NTC was recognized as a legitimate Libyan Government and it made one thing clear that they do not want their revolution taken over by foreigners which resulted in a very light touch of British American and French engagement aftermath of the civil war in Libya. The major concern after the end of dictatorship came as the fragmented security situation in Libya. The security crisis became very complex due to its geographical proximity, in another sense one can say that there is a complex interplay of a new Libyan armed forces together with autonomous Militia and their own different tribal groups, which became powerful with weapons they received during the civil war and it was the major issue to keep them together, otherwise there was the fear of the fragmentation of Libya. The civil war in 2011 resulted in a big event of interventionism in the name of the humanitarian crisis in Libya.
2011 brought many changes in the North African countries. These major changes came through the wave of democratization under the Arab Spring event. Libya received the most dramatic change, after the civil war and humanitarian intervention of 8 months. Events of regime change in Libya has occurred in the past, but this time regime change did not bring the non-democratic rule and the advent of democracy was the most immediate result of the end of Qaddafi’s rule. Libyan people entered in a new phase of democracy after the period of 42 years long dictatorship under Qaddafi. NTC received the governance responsibility after the end of dictatorship and the 2012 election in Libya provided first-ever voting rights to Libyan people in the election. Democracy arrival in Libya came with the security crisis. Insecurity became one of the major consequence of Qaddafi’s rule end. The major concern in the post-Gaddafi period was the security issue for the new government. In the Eastern part of Libya, many separatist groups were linked with the local tribal Militia, the southern part of the country became the hub of smuggling and established their networks in Sahara and Sahel.
NTC was replaced by GNC in August 2012, which has been elected the previous month and it tried to build a new national army, the Libyan National Army. The collapse of the Libyan army during the Civil War resulted in the emergence of local autonomous Militia based on regional or sectarian nature. They created security problems, for example in the Fezzan, Tebu became a dominant Militia and it has involvement in cross-border smuggling. Two other most dominant Militia such as the Zintan and Misurata Militia are dominant in Tripolitania.
There were many other rebel groups functioning in Libya, which created the threat of instability, as they were looking for power and many from them were promoting the jihadi activities and became the center of terrorism in Libya. This dominant Militia became more powerful and unpopular due to their violent actions on different occasions. A new security crisis emerged in Libya when former general Khalifa Hafter said on 19 May 2014, that he will establish the authority of the Libyan army and all the Islamist influence in Libya will be eliminated. With his initiatives, he made a coalition of forces linked to Nationalist circle with the help of a Special Forces unit in Benghazi tribal elements and Nationalist. By the end of 2014, Khalifa initiatives got significant responses not Just in Cyrenaica, but also in Tripolitania. By November 2014 he eliminated Islamist Militia from Benghazi, he also tried to establish links with Egypt and UAE and ask them to intervene in Libya security crisis. Two new military powers emerged in Libya due to the Khalifa Haftar initiative, his forces in Benghazi and Cyrenaica became known as “Libyan dignity” against that another collision formed by the powerful Militia in the country in the town of Misurata.
Not just security crisis but the crisis in governance was another problem which Libya faced post-civil war era in 2013. When the GNC declared that militia had to be dissolved by the end of the year but by June 2014 nothing had happened. Since the rule of Qaddafi, no institution of governance and no organized system was there through which political decision could be made or implemented to establish. To create such a body became an important task for the newly elected government. Even NTC initially provided a framework of representative and legitimacy with the support of external actors, but it was not accepted by all the parties of Libya.
The demand of political representation by different tribes became louder, even demand for the Federal state increased in Libya, but this crisis was initially resolved by the decision to renew the democratic mandate of Libya’s new ruling institution by holding elections. A new premier Abdullah Al-Thani had been successfully appointed by the GNC in 2014. Almost 1714 candidates fought election for 200 seats in the new assembly. It created controversy from the movement it elected, not only because of security reason but due to Haftar supporters demand of the withdrawal of 30 Islamist sympathizers.
Post-civil war period created a new problem of jihadism in Libya. During the dictatorship era, Qaddafi did not provide space to anti-state jihadi actors in his country. He was involved in many terrorist activities in Libya in his own country, he did not allow Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organization to pose any threat to his leadership. On September 11, 2012, within the first year after the fall of Qaddafi the US ambassador Chris Stevens along with three other American officials got killed in a terrorist attack with this attack the made one thing clear about the evolving threats to security. Sometimes later attacks became frequent for example British Ambassador narrowly escaped from death when his car was attacked by rocket-propelled grenade fire. There were public reports which provided information that Al-Qaeda operative Abdul Aziz was sent to Libya by the Al- Qaeda chief to take advantage of civil war in Libya and find new recruits training camps of Al-Qaeda, he established camps for the new recruits, which created a problem in the post-civil war time. jihad was not the only source of violence in Libya but it became a serious problem and a possible future threat to the security of the oil fields of Libya from these jihadi groups.
The threat to the security of Libya increased with the growth of ISIS group, which has become the largest terrorist group in the world. The roots of Isis in Libya created a deep threat to the stability and peace of the region. ISIS as a terrorist group did not want a peaceful transition of democracy and created many hurdles by attacking many areas in Libya. At the end of the study, the finding can be established that intervention in Libya did not go as well as it was prescribed by the UN authority. The role of Western actors became suspicious as they took advantage of this civil war in Libya and the uprising of the Arab Spring. Since the rule of Qaddafi, western powers were sharing a bad relationship with Libya, on the other hand, its important geographical location of Libya in the Mediterranean Sea was the matter of concern for western European powers. Oil resources in Libya become the source of their interest in Libya along with that terrorist activities of Qaddafi had to be tackled by the western powers.


               International changes after the civil war can be seen in terms of the emerging debate over the nature of intervention that took place in Libya under the leadership of western powers. They intervene in Libya on the name of humanitarian measures and expected that humanitarian intervention would be accepted by the world community, but sharp criticisms were received as other powers like Russia, China, Germany, and Brazil made allegations about the intervention, that in the name of human security, western powers were fulfilling their interest in Libya through NATO actions. Responsibility to protect is a principle of intervention. Reason for naming it responsibility to protect is for action to prevent the cases of human crisis. Western powers played a crucial role in Libya according to their interest but western power’s intervention made Libya a defunct state.

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