Libya and R2P

John Siebert Defence & Human Security

Briefing 11-2

John Siebert

The NATO implementation of a no-fly zone to protect Libyan civilians, which began on March 19, has now explicitly morphed into regime change by bombing runs.

The intensive daylight bombing of Tripoli on June 7 and recent statements by Canadian government ministers confirm the fundamental confusion between the goals of civilian protection and regime change. The result is that neither civilian protection nor regime change has been achieved in Libya, and neither is likely to be achieved in the foreseeable future by continuing the bombing campaign.

Canada and its NATO allies now should pursue alternative courses of action, including negotiation of a ceasefire and serious diplomatic talks with Gadhafi, his supporters, and other elements of Libyan society. Otherwise prolonged civil violence in Libya can be expected.

The evolution of the doctrine of the “responsibility to protect” vulnerable civilians, or R2P, has suffered in Libya. Righting course by aggressively seeking a ceasefire and negotiations for a sustainable future for Libya will allow Canada and its NATO allies to genuinely fulfill the primary mission of UNSC Resolution 1973 to protect vulnerable people in Libya, and stop the erosion of the legitimacy of R2P as an international norm.

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