Posts Tagged ‘Security Council’
The move by the Palestinian leadership to go to the UN and ask what’s due to them is pretty understandable, to say the least. Israel under Netanyahu has worked very hard at becoming an international pariah, and this seems to be the only way left to get them back at the negotiating table. And apart from the US and a couple of European countries, the majority of governments in the world seem to support this move.
And not only that: populations across the globe, including in the US, support the Palestinians on the matter of statehood, this new BBC poll shows. So there should really be no discussion about this. If Obama really wants to tap into the Arab Spring, and wishes to improve the relationship between the West and the Arab world, he won’t let the US unilaterally block the Palestinians from more international recognition that is wanted by a majority of UN members. But with the Israel lobby as big as it is in Washington, that is probably not going to happen…
As debate continues over whether the Palestinians should ask for a UN resolution recognising Palestine as an independent state, a new global poll for BBC World Service reveals that, in all 19 countries surveyed, more citizens would prefer to see their government vote to support the resolution than vote against it – although only by a modest margin in many countries.
The poll of 20,446 citizens conducted by GlobeScan shows that, while the public is five to two in favour, with three undecided, in only nine countries is there an outright majority of citizens in support of recognizing Palestine as a state.
Across the countries surveyed 49 per cent back the resolution, while 21 per cent say their government should oppose it, and a large proportion (30%) either say that it depends, that their government should abstain, or that they do not know what their government should do.
Support for recognition is strongest in Egypt, where 90 per cent are in favour and only nine per cent opposed. But there is also majority support in the other three predominantly Muslim countries polled – Turkey (60% support, 19% oppose), Pakistan (52% support, 12% oppose) and Indonesia (51% support,16% oppose). Chinese people are the second most likely overall to favour their government voting for recognition of a Palestinian state, with 56 per cent in support, and just nine per cent opposed.
In terms of countries with a higher level of opposition, Americans (45% support, 36% oppose) and Indians (32% support, 25% opposed, with many undecided) are the most likely to prefer that their government vote against recognizing Palestine, along with Filipinos (56% support vs 36% oppose) and Brazilians (41% support vs 26% oppose).
The military intervention (or war) in Libya was initially argued for and supported (including by yours truly) in terms of its circumscribed goals – implementing a no-fly zone and preventing humanitarian disaster, no regime change - its legitimization by UN mandate, and its international character.
Judging from an April 14 joint op-ed in the Telegraph by President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron and President Sarkozy, entitled ‘The bombing continues until Gaddafi goes’, however, one or more of these features is now about to change. Instead of the NATO under a UN flag keeping Ghadafi’s air force and tanks immobilized and letting the rebels fend for themselves, the goal of the mission is now apparently regime change.
Regime change! Iraq, anyone?
This is not what this mission was intended for. And not only that, the question is now also to what extent this is still in terms with UN Resolution 1973, which does not provide for regime change at all.
In my opinion, the legitimacy of this mission is now being severely challenged (which is not to say, by the way, that the picture above of Libyan rebels firing what look like Hind-24 helicopter missiles from a truck is not extremely cool).
Barack Obama, March 28, 2011, explaining America’s involvement in the war in Libya:
Of course, there is no question that Libya -– and the world –- would be better off with Qaddafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means. But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake
Barack Obama, David Cameron, Nicolas Sarkozy, joint Op-Ed, yesterday:
The bombing continues until Gaddafi goes
Our duty and our mandate under UN Security Council Resolution 1973 is to protect civilians, and we are doing that. It is not to remove Gaddafi by force. . . . However, so long as Gaddafi is in power, Nato and its coalition partners must maintain their operations so that civilians remain protected and the pressure on the regime builds. Then a genuine transition from dictatorship to an inclusive constitutional process can really begin, led by a new generation of leaders. For that transition to succeed, Colonel Gaddafi must go, and go for good.
Whatever one thinks about this war limited humanitarian intervention on the merits, this is not the mission that Obama cited when justifying America’s involvement. It’s the opposite: ”broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake” v. “so long as Gaddafi is in power, Nato and its coalition partners must maintain their operations.” To claim that “regime change” is subsumbed under the goal of ”protecting civilians” is to define that objective so broadly as to render it meaningless and, independently, is to violate Obama’s explicit decree at the start that regime change would not be the military goal. Finally, note the blithe dismissal of the very limited U.N. Resolution that initially justified all this: it does not provide for regime change in Libya by force, acknowledged the three leaders, but that, in essence, is what we’re going to do anyway (continue “operations” until he’s gone).
Meanwhile, the NYT is reporting that Colonel Ghadafi is firing cluster bombs into residential areas – which, if true, is of course a flagrant war crime. But I’m beginning to doubt whether a newspaper like the NYT can still fully be trusted on such matters. When all is said and done, after all, a paper like the NYT is a perennially establishment-supporting news outlet (up till now, they’re still refusing to call the Bush administration’s interrogation techniques ‘torture’, even though they employ that term when the same techniques are employed in other countries), and reports like this broaden the case for war (compare it to reporting about the atrocities of Saddam Hussein, for example). Embedded journalists on the ground get their information via military forces, moreover, such as the rebels.
Articles are now also being written about the possible exaggeration by Obama of the humanitarian disaster in for instance Benghazi had the coalition not intervened. I don’t know about that – to me, the prevention of an atrocity is still a legit ground for international, UN-mandated intervention – but it’s good to remain watchful.
Now that the military intervention in Libya is entering its third day, some doubts about the whole action are beginning to arise in the mainstream media and online. Well, actually, on the blogosphere, notably in the US, the enthusiasm doesn’t seem to have been great to begin with. Also, here, the legitimacy and even domestic legality of the military actions are being called into question. The NYT, though, now also has a good piece about what is the fundamental problem with this intervention: what conclusion do we want it to have? What is the purpose of this intervention?
Basically, two answers to that are possible. One is the removal of Colonel Ghadafi by coalition military might. The other is the implementation of the no-fly zone (and, by now, it seems, also the destruction of the Libyan military), thus either allowing the rebels to topple Ghadafi, or pushing for negotiations between them and Ghadafi. I have the impression that the second option is what the coalition is pretty explicitly pushing for - although some (French) officials have also hinted at the first option, and Obama has indicated that to him the only outcome of negotiations can also be the removal of Ghadafi. The problem is, though: what if the second option doesn’t work out, and either the rebels are defeated, unable to conquer the entire country, or Ghadafi remains in (partial) power? Then we have an open-ended military commitment; and that is something we do not want to have.
The first option, though, is evidently outside of the scope of UNSCR 1973.
So this military intervention is predicated on a huge gamble, namely that the rebels will be able to swiftly re-conquer the country. If not, then we have a problem – the West is then embroiled in a third war in a Muslim country, and public support for this undertaking, both in the West and in the Arab world, will quickly ebb away. The model seems to be Afghanistan with the Northern Alliance doing the ground work (and then letting them install a government), rather than Iraq 2003. The comparison with the Iraq War, though, is already now increasingly being heard online. I would like the main point of this blog post to be that while the pitfalls of this mission (as stipulated above) must be recognized, any comparison with the Iraq War falls flat and is completely unfair. Let’s compare the two.
The Iraq War was a US-led war of aggression, against a state that posed no direct threat to the US. It was based on a fraudulent case about so-called weapons of mass destruction, that was embarassingly argued for by Colin Powell in the UN – a top aide later admitted this to be the lowest point in his career. There was a doctrine called ‘pre-emptive war’, which was up till then unheard of in international relations, and was accepted only in US neocon circles. There was no substantial international coalition backing this invasion, and what’s more, it was illegal: the UN resolution that was in place at the time did not provide for a full-scale war and toppling of the government.
The Libyan intervention, on the other hand, is a UN-instigated, UN-backed mission primarily meant to prevent the massacre of thousands of people. The pretty strong-worded Resolution 1973 fully, legally provides for everything that is happening right now. As co-blogger blsd has also argued here, this is what the Security Council was set up for! Only because of the Cold War did it never come around to do so. The international coalition supporting this mission is much broader than in the case of Iraq (ranging from Europe to the Arab League), and while Russia, China and India may be bitching now, they could’ve prevented this intervention in the Security Council if they’d wanted to, yet they didn’t. The Arab League is also still on board. The military action up till now may have been bold, but it effectuated what was stipulated in the Resolution: implement a no-fly zone.
I’m not saying this is without enormous risks, or even that it’s the best thing to do; but to compare it with Iraq is to demonstrate an Americentric worldview that supposes that once again this is an American mission with the rest of the world merely looking on. The US may bear the brunt, true; but the rhetorical lipservice being paid to this being an international coalition, and most importantly the fact that this is a circumscribed, UN-mandated mission, makes this an essentially different thing. It’s the reason that I, for one, can back this thing for now, as I suspect a far larger percentage of the European populace does than in the case of Iraq.
Of course this thing may be running out of hand, and then I’ll hate it was ever started and pound my head and ask, ‘Have we learned nothing?’ But for now, to me it seems that if there ever was a reason for an intervention, and a process to give it legitimacy and an international coalition, it’s this one and now. Let’s hope that it essentially stays limited, that there’s a quick way out, and that it doesn’t blow up in everybody’s faces.
Just a couple of hours ago, a French fighter jet fired on and destroyed a Libyan military vehicle, the first use of force by the international community under the mandate of UN Security Council resolution 1973 (2011), adopted last Thursday. This seems to signal a turn-around in the situation on the ground in Libya – Colonel Kaddafi’s luck may finally have run out.
Beyond Libya, the consequences of this bold move by France may prove even more significant. For the first time in a very long period, the UN Security Council has shown to be able to take forceful action against a leader and a state that massacres its own people in violation of international law. This is rather unique: in 1994, the Security Council failed to stop the genocide in Rwanda, and in 1999 the Council’s inertia prompted NATO’s unilateral intervention in Kosovo. As a result, many have criticized the Security Council for being irrelevant and outdated, and academics and policy-makers have actively sought ways to circumvent the Council (see, for example, the debate on a “responsibility to protect”, or R2P).
Enter Resolution 1973 (2011) and its swift enforcement by France and Britain. The current events are reminiscent of the military action by the international community in Kuwait in the early 1990s. Then, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War instilled great optimism in the future of world politics (see, for example, Bush sr.’s “Toward a New World Order” speech in 1990). Resolution 678 (1990), authorizing states to use “all necessary means” to restore peace and security in the Gulf area, was hailed as an awakening of the Security Council after decades of deadlock. Now, after some bad experiences with semi-unilateral actions in the last decade (most prominently Iraq and Afghanistan), states are returning to the Council – despite talks about its irrelevance. Thursday’s vote gives the Council renewed credibility as the primary global forum to deal with international crises. It may herald an era of new, more mature optimism about the role of the Security Council at the centre of global politics.
Another point of interest is that, this time, it is not the US who is taking the lead. Quite the opposite: the US is very careful not to be seen as targeting yet another Muslim nation. Strategically, this seems the right choice. But it demonstrates that a hitherto hegemon feels that it has reached the limits of its powers and is painfully aware of the dangers of imperial overstretch.
Cross-posted from Law in a Cold Climate
- Update – 17:11: At 2:00 PM EST (19:00 Dutch time) President Obama will deliver a speech on Libya.
- Update – 15:19: What will it take to establish a no-fly zone in Libya? CNN’s John King explains. The first target will be Qaddafi’s air defence system on the coast, which contains some relatively advanced anti-aircraft missiles like the French Crotale SAM, the Russian S-200/SA-5 Gammon missiles and the portable SA-7, as well as the ancient stuff we’ve seen the rebels using.
- Update – 15:07: There are serious doubts about Qaddafi’s claim that he has ordered a ceasefire. Apparently, the city of Misrata is still being shelled.
- Update – 13:58: The Libyan government has announced an immediate ceasefire, in order to comply with U.N. resolution 1973!
Ian Black of the Guardian:
The Libyan announcement of a unilateral ceasefire made by foreign minister Moussa Koussa leaves several important questions unanswered. Is it simply a ploy to divide the UN after the approval of the security council resolution? And how will a ceasefire be monitored and verified? Will the UN be allowed in? Fighting was reported from the port of Misrata shortly before his press conference in Tripoli. His offer of dialogue has already been rejected by the Benghazi-based rebels. The Gaddafi regime is pretty low on credibility so there will be plenty of scepticism about this statement. And Koussa pointedly refused to answer any questions after dropping his bombshell.
I’m wondering what this means for the rebels. Can they keep on fighting? Is there gonna be like a dialogue between them and Gadhafi?
- Original post: So the UN, in a probably way too late, yet nevertheless pretty strong resolution, has installed a no-fly zone above Libya. This is not just some gesture: it means that Libyan military airplanes will be shot down by Western ones to actually implement and enforce this no-fly zone. This is what the worries of Chancellor Merkel are about (and why Germany abstended in the Security Council vote). In other words: we’re potentially in for a long, protracted military conflict with Colonel Gadhafi. No idea what the aftermath of that will be like.
Meanwhile, British fighter jets are under way; the French are getting ready; Belgium (yes, Belgium) will send 4 F-16′s; Denmark will send 7 F-16′s; the Netherlands wants to join in as well, but is waiting for a request; and Egypt is supplying the Libyan rebels. So, the international community is now actively taking sides in this conflict. Gadhafi ordered the biggest bombardments as of yet on the city of Misurata, so he ain’t backing down. Guess we’ll have to wait until the bombs start falling.
I’m probably not gonna be able to liveblog what’s happening (maybe other LSD bloggers are), but here’s some links to follow, and some analysis.
Check out the liveblog of The Guardian, liveblog Al Jazeera (and livestream), liveblog and stream BBC, CNN, liveblog de Volkskrant (Dutch), the NYT, Andrew Sullivan, liveblog Enduring America.
Only hours after the United Nations Security Council voted to authorize military action and the imposition of a no-flight zone to try to avert a rout of rebels by forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, French officials said on Friday that military action would start soon. News reports said British and French warplanes would spearhead the attack.
Eurocontrol, Europe’s air traffic control agency, said in Brussels on Friday that Libya had closed its airspace.
On the ground, forces loyal to Colonel Qaddafi unleashed a barrage of fire against the rebel-held town of Misurata in the west of the country while one of the colonel’s sons, Seif el-Islam, was quoted as saying government forces would encircle the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in the east.
François Baroin, a French government spokesman, told RTL radio that airstrikes would come “rapidly,” perhaps within hours, following the United Nations resolution late Thursday authorizing “all necessary measures” to impose a no-flight zone.
But he insisted the military action “is not an occupation of Libyan territory.” Rather, it was designed to protect the Libyan people and “allow them to go all the way in their drive, which means bringing down the Qaddafi regime.”
The action seemed to have divided Europeans, with Germany saying it would not participate while Norway was reported as saying it would. In the region, Turkey was reported to have registered opposition while demanding ceasefire, but Qatar said it would support the operation.
Alex Massie at The Spectator:
Like it or not we are now in it for the long-haul. The history of UN-mandated missions does not support the notion that this will be a quick or easy campaign. The UN is still present in Bosnia and Kosovo and it seems quite possible, even if this mission achieves its stated goals, that it will be in Libya for years to come. That’s probable, surely, even if or perhaps especially if the end result is the partition of Libya. Indeed,a Kosovan-style outcome may now be the best available.
Spencer Ackerman at Wired:
The question naturally becomes: what’s victory? How does this end? The United Nations has approved a tactic. It hasn’t set out a strategy. The fact that France showedmore enthusiasm than the U.S. for the no-fly zone underscores the lack of agreement about just how far this intervention will go. Logically, the endstate implied by the U.N. vote is the end of Gadhafi’s rule over Libya. But it’s far from certain that’s what nations signing on to a no-fly zone are committed to bringing about, especially if Gadhafi proves to be resilient.
This really boggles me. Revealed by the publication by WikiLeaks of a quarter millon classified diplomatic cables from American embassies, is a massive secret intelligence campaign directed by the U.S. government against the leadership of the United Nations.
This included the gathering of personal details, biometric information (fingerprints and iris scans), passwords, credit card numbers, use of private networks and frequent flyer accounts of the secretary general, permanent Security Council representatives, undersecretaries, heads of agencies, chief advisers, heads of peacekeeping operations and other key top UN personnel.
While of course in the dark side of international relations such a thing shouldn’t surprise anyone, I’m still amazed at the grandiosity of this scheme.
Washington is running a secret intelligence campaign targeted at the leadership of the United Nations, including the secretary general, Ban Ki-moon and the permanent security council representatives from China, Russia, France and the UK.
A classified directive which appears to blur the line between diplomacy and spying was issued to US diplomats under Hillary Clinton’s name in July 2009, demanding forensic technical details about the communications systems used by top UN officials, including passwords and personal encryption keys used in private and commercial networks for official communications.
It called for detailed biometric information “on key UN officials, to include undersecretaries, heads of specialised agencies and their chief advisers, top SYG [secretary general] aides, heads of peace operations and political field missions, including force commanders” as well as intelligence on Ban’s “management and decision-making style and his influence on the secretariat”. A parallel intelligence directive sent to diplomats in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi said biometric data included DNA, fingerprints and iris scans.
Washington also wanted credit card numbers, email addresses, phone, fax and pager numbers and even frequent-flyer account numbers for UN figures and “biographic and biometric information on UN Security Council permanent representatives”.
The secret “national human intelligence collection directive” was sent to US missions at the UN in New York, Vienna and Rome; 33 embassies and consulates, including those in London, Paris and Moscow.
The operation targetted at the UN appears to have involved all of Washington’s main intelligence agencies. The CIA’s clandestine service, the US Secret Service and the FBI were included in the “reporting and collection needs” cable alongside the state department under the heading “collection requirements and tasking”.
The leak of the directive is likely to spark questions about the legality of the operation and about whether state department diplomats are expected to spy. The level of technical and personal detail demanded about the UN top team’s communication systems could be seen as laying the groundwork for surveillance or hacking operations. It requested “current technical specifications, physical layout and planned upgrades to telecommunications infrastructure and information systems, networks and technologies used by top officials and their support staff”, as well as details on private networks used for official comunication, “to include upgrades, security measures, passwords, personal encryption keys and virtual private network versions used”.
The UN has previously asserted that bugging the secretary general is illegal, citing the 1946 UN convention on priveleges and immunities which states: “The premises of the United Nations shall be inviolable. The property and assets of the United Nations, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation and any other form of interference, whether by executive, administrative, judicial or legislative action”.
The 1961 Vienna convention on diplomatic relations, which covers the UN, also states that “the official correspondence of the mission shall be inviolable”.
The emergence of the directive also risks undermining political trust between the UN leadership and the US, which is the former’s biggest paying member, supplying almost a quarter of its budget – more than $3bn (£1.9bn) this year.
Washington wanted intelligence on the contentious issue of the “relationship or funding between UN personnel and/or missions and terrorist organisations” and links between the UN Relief and Works Agency in the Middle East, and Hamas and Hezbollah. It also wanted to know about plans by UN special rapporteurs to press for potentially embarrassing investigations into the US treatment of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, and “details of friction” between the agencies co-ordinating UN humanitarian operations, evidence of corruption inside UNAids, the joint UN programme on HIV, and in international health organisations, including the World Health Organisation (WHO). It even called for “biographic and biometric” information on Dr Margaret Chan, the director general of WHO, as well as details of her personality, role, effectiveness, management style and influence.
Interesting. I would like to hear the opinion of an international law expert specialized in the jurisdiction and workings of international courts on this. It seems that me that if major powers disagree with criminalizing “aggression” (which includes invasions and pre-emptive strikes), a move by a host of smaller nations to give the International Criminal Court a mandate for prosecution on this will only weaken the Court, making it more of a paper tiger. I’d say you can’t “push” the development of international law, as you risk turning international institutions like the ICC into a League of Nations.
More than 100 nations, contingents of human-rights groups and lawyers from around the globe, will begin a meeting on Monday in Kampala, Uganda, tackling issues that could fundamentally expand the power of international law.The thorniest question on the agenda, one certain to dominate the conference, is a proposal to give the International Criminal Court in The Hague the power to prosecute the crime of aggression.
If approved, it could open the door to criminal accusations against powerful political and military leaders for attacks the court deems unlawful. Those could range from full-scale invasions to pre-emptive strikes.
The court, the world’s first permanent criminal court, already has a mandate to prosecute three groups of grave crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Adding aggression to this list “would be a game-changer in international diplomacy,” said Noah Weisbord, a member of the expert group that has drafted a definition of the crime for the meeting.
Many of the court’s 111 member countries have said that they favor adding the crime of aggression to its mandate. They include Germany and numerous small countries that see the change as a form of legal protection. But others, including Britain and France are opposed, arguing that it would overwhelm the court and trap it in political disputes.
The United States, Russian and China, which cannot vote because they have not joined the court and are in Kampala only as observers, are strongly against expanding the court’s purview and are expected to work hard behind the scenes to postpone any action on the issue.