Libya : moral obligation, legal intervention

by Daniel Jouanneau, Ambassador of France to Pakistan




In Libya, the will of the people is trampled down by Colonel Gaddafi’s regime in a brutal repression against its own civilian population.


Countless warnings have been issued to the Libyan regime. All of them were ignored. On February 25th, the General Assembly of the United Nations suspended Libya from the Human Rights Council. The next day, the UN Security Council stated that ‘the attacks taking place against civilians could constitute crimes against humanity’ and has asked the International Criminal Court to assess the matter. A unanimous resolution has been passed, urging the Libyan regime to fulfill its obligation to protect its civilians. All of this was in vain.


This is why the Security council adopted a second resolution, under chapter VII of the UN charter, allowing the use of “all necessary means” in order to achieve only one specific goal, that is to protect civilian populations. The present “no-fly zone” has been decided by this resolution, and the Libyan Air Force has no longer the capacity to bomb and kill civilians. The enforcement of a no-fly zone was explicitly called for by the ministers of the Arab League.


It is not a Western intervention against a Muslim country. A large international coalition, including Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, is saving hundred of thousands of Libyans from an organized massacre and a humanitarian disaster.


We are not participating in this intervention for economic purposes. Imports from Libya only amount to 6% of French total imports of oil.


For practical reasons, and in order to secure an efficient coordination between air forces and navies of the coalition, NATO has been entrusted with the military command. But the strategic and political decisions are made by a contact group of around 20 members, set up in London on March 29. Its second meeting will take place in Qatar.


By participating in the military operation in Libya, France has no other agenda than protecting the Libyan population. The UNSC 1973 resolution does not allow any type of occupation force on the ground, or any direct move towards a regime change.


It is up to the Libyan people to decide which kind of political regime they want, and what should be Colonel Gaddafi’s future. France, being a permanent member of the Security Council, values its responsibility to ensure the respect of the UN Charter.


The military action is not a goal in itself. As clearly stated by the 40 countries and international organizations participating in the London Conference on Libya, a political settlement is needed, and will be in the Libyan people’s hands. Around the National Council of Transition and leaders from the civil society, a national political dialogue should now take place, and result in a transition process, a constitutional reform, and free and fair elections. It has to be a Libyan-driven process. But the international community can help, through a generous humanitarian aid (this is a priority for the European Union), and by facilitating the national dialogue.


The events taking place in Northern Africa and in the Middle East can change the course of history. It is our duty to accompany the aspiration of Arab People for freedom and democracy.

Dernière modification : 03/11/2011

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