In my last article „R2P – fig leaf of the West?” (https://www.christinaschlegl.de/en/mem-kategorien/r2p-das-feigenblatt-des-westens) I pointed out a lecture organised by the Friedensinitiative Braunschweig. This lecture took place last Tuesday (17.05.2011) at the technical university (TU) in Brunswieck. Bastian Loges, research associate at the TU and Peter Strutynski of the Kassler Friedensratschlag, held speeches.
The lecture was meant as a disputation where contrary position were to be discussed. Mr. Loges started with his plea for the deployment of NATO troops in Lybia, covered by the Responsibility to Protect (R2P)-clause. Mr. Loges started off saying that menace and appliance of violence is categorical forbidden according to international law. The abandonment of war of aggression went along with the foundation of the United Nations (UN). Next to a general prohibition on the use of force, which paved the way for the peaceful means of sanctions, the sovereignity of states is a fundamental norm of the public international law. Sovereignity of states means that nobody has a right to intervene from outside the state. Only actions of UN soldiers can be labelled as “legal force”.
The notion of peace has developed simultaneously from “negative” to “positive”, which means shaped, peace. In 1993 the indivisibility of Human Rights was concluded. Loges continued with a more or less detailed essay on the development of the Convention of Human Rights the UN failure in and Ruanda and the war in former Yugoslavia. The UN, however, has learned from its mistakes and was thus lead to the “Responsibility to Protect” (= positive peace), which allows for the military intervention of the UN into state affairs in certain cases ignoring souvereignity of state legally in the best interest of the population. This was enacted in 2005.
Content of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is according to Loges that the state has to protect its citizens. However in case where the state is not able to do so, the responsibility to protect falls to the international community (UN). It is basically about this four elements: genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and war crime.
Successional Loges tried to derive the lawfulness of the NATO troops intervention in Libya from the R2P and basically from the resolutions no. 1970 and 1973, which were concluded in spring 2011: it all started with the protest in the Arabic World, which spread like wildfire from Tunisia to Egypt and from there to Libya. Whereas Tunisia and Egypt have witnessed a largely peaceful revolution the case in Libya is different. When Gaddafi proclaimed an oppressive intervention and a fight “until the last drop of blood” in a speech held on TV, the United Nationals heard the call for action. A resolution of the security council has been urged for and on February 26th, 2011 resolution no. 1970 is being approved. When no reaction could be observed from the libyen state, another meeting took place three weeks later and resolution no. 1973 came out – basis for the current NATO troops intervention. Resolution no. 1973 passed the responsibility to protect from Libya to the international community. Two abstentation from voting from permanent members of the security council (China and Russia) were noted as well as three abstentations from non-permanent members (India, Germany and Brasil). Loges explained that abstentations from votes coming from permanent members can be understood as agreement whereas abstentations from non-permanent members have to be understood as a “no”. Loges drew the conclusion that the case is well-defined: Gaddafi’s plausible threat to attack his own people was the legitimization for the intervention.
As a second discourser it was then Peter Strutynski’s turn. He expressed his opinion from a peace-scientific point of view. He started his speech by clarifying who it is all about. Libya finds itself in a set of massive protest movement within the Arabic Region. All regimes kept and keep good relationships to the “West”. Even the protest marches in Tunisia and Egypt have not been peaceful, he recalled: between 800 to 1200 people have been murdered in Egypt alone. Tunisia is a similar story.
Talking about the “good” relations between the Arabic World and the West he points out that the European Union as well as the West as a whole have a strong interest in the region’s stability. That is why government representatives work together with dictators. Foreign policy is concern-oriented; the violation of Human Rights is thus accepted.
Libya, especially Gaddafi, became the “naughty jack” in 1969 when he nationalized access to the country’s oil reserves and expelled the Americans. Later he took sides with the Eastern Bloc. In 2002/3 however, Gaddafi changed his mind and abjure nuclear weapons research and terrorism. The Lockerbie victims were paid something like 16 billion Dollar compensation. Strutynski took the liberty to note that in comparison to that amount of compensation, the United States would still owe Vietnam a lot of money for the Vietnam war, which would exceed the 16 billion Dollar by far.
Gaddafi, Strutynski continued, bought his people with the oil money over. Libya, he explained, is one of the richest countries in North Africa (HDI = rank 47). He marked the reaction of the West towards the “Arabic spring” as scandalous unassertive. For a long time they did not know how to react. Is it clever to let Mubarak simply down? It was a mere “wait and see”. Concerning Libya reactions were totally different. From the beginning Gaddafi was the “bad guy” and the rebels represented the “good guys”.
Once again, Strutynski got into details: After 1989/90 the USA was the only world power and profited from a clear arrangement of the international situation (this is contrary to Habermas’ theory of an unclear arrangement of the international situation). The R2P is a big contradiction in itself. Following Mr. Kofi Annan’s suggestion in 2000 it was set up and published in 2001 (in English only). Strutynski noticed that the R2P cannot be called an edict of the international law as the requirement for it, a formal resolution of the security council, is missing.
The selective execution of the same is a problem, he said. What would be a just cause (= just war) for its application? He also pointed out that a permanent member state of the security council could not be punished with a resolution as the prospects of success would be exactly zero. The prospect of success, however, is a requirement for a R2P.
A military intervention against the state’s wishes, he added, constitutes an utmost measure and is neither legal nor compliant with international law. “The security council”, he said, “is not an organ that can be trusted”. It is not stipulated in public international law that states (NATO) take sides with somebody and act as if one side would represent the “good” and the other side the “bad”, Strutynski concluded.
As an alternative solution to hostility, which he described as gamesmanship in the style of Wallerstein (http://www.ag-friedensforschung.de/regionen/Libyen/wallerstein.html), Strutynski pled for the end of hostilities, a cease-fire and the pooling of all parties at the negotiating table. Presumably simply that what should have been done from the beginning.
In my opinion both speeches centred to much on facts and figures and too little on what should come to the fore: Human Rights and what the people of the region are really looking for. This conclusion reveals another huge deficit: a well-balanced news coverage from a multi-perspective point of view giving a meaningful description of the situation as a whole. A hope yet unsupported. Still, possibly we might get some answers on Thursday, May 26th, 2011 at 7 p.m. at the “Alte Waage” in Brunswieck when Prof. Dr. Karam Khella talks “about the rebellion of the Arab people for freedom”.