Libya: Whatever Happened to the Chicago Principles and our International Responsibility To Protect?

Even with media access to Libya seriously restricted pictures emerging from the country are shocking in the extreme. Even without the pictures the inflammatory language used by Colonel Gaddafi leaves one in no doubt that even though his grip on power – if not his grasp of reality – is weakening, this is one dictator who would rather risk a bloody civil war than leave peacefully. The situation in Libya is as far removed from Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution as it is possible to get.

The United Nations Security Council has rightly called for an immediate end to the violence and for steps to address the legitimate demands of the population. It has however stopped short of imposing no-fly zones, sanctions, embargoes or the freezing of assets. Finding consensus in the United Nations Security Council is always difficult, but doubly so when the situation on the ground is fast-moving.

There are understandable reasons why governments might wish to tread carefully here, but has the international response to the unfolding tragedy in Libya been unduly hesitant and confused?

The British Coalition Government might wish to put as much distance between itself and the liberal internationalism of Blair, but do we have a responsibility to protect those innocents caught up in this conflict? 

The HMS Cumberland has been recalled from the scrap yard for one last mission – the evacuation of British nationals – but what of those left behind?

Are the Chicago principles that Blair drew up in the wake of the Kosovo war now nothing more than a historical footnote?

Governments around the world appear to be evading these questions by anticipating that the situation in Libya will resolve itself without further bloodshed. They may be proved right, but it is a high risk strategy and one that leaves wider questions regarding our international responsibilities unanswered.  

What do you think? Do you think that we could and should be doing more to resolve the situation in Libya. If so, what would you advise and why?

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7 Responses to Libya: Whatever Happened to the Chicago Principles and our International Responsibility To Protect?

  1. peddiebill says:

    My understanding of how Gaddafi has stayed in power so long is his trick of rewarding hi supported to the point they are severely compromised, reduce the power of the military so that there is no coup to fear, use the oil to buy in Western support (cf Tony Blair trading on Gas rights) and using his many assets to buy in mercenary support mainly from elsewhere in North Africa. The only easy way to shut him down is to cut of the money supply eg freeze all assets, hold up oil payment etc. Without the money he would have few friends. Bill Peddie

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