Responsibility to protect: Libya and Kosovo Cases 2009 and 2011.

User Rating: 5 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Active

                     With the end of the cold war, the dramatic demise of the Soviet threat, many scholars and politicians emerged heralding the new peace dawn. F, Fukuyama for instance said; ”I feel in my self and in the eyes of others around me powerful nostalgia for the time when history existed”(Jentleson, p705). The previous US president G W Bush Senior- was much more optimist – introduced some thing new called” a New World Order when diverse nations are drawn together in common cause to achieve the universal aspirations of mankind”( ibid, p48).

                     However, history is not a manageable game. Two years later, Europe experienced its largest wave of killing after WW2 in Bosnia. Two years later, Rwanda experienced the same fate. In both cases, no one intervened. Forced to meet this new challenge, the “international community” agreed to act. In 2005, they adopted” Responsibility to Protect” (R2P), In this essay I will try to discuss the meaning of humanitarian Intervention through two case studies, Kosovo and Libya.

                My focal questions will be what is the legitimacy of humanitarian intervention?

How did it develop? Is force a reliable mean in responding to genocide and mass killing? How was it applied in Kosovo? How was it played out in Libya? Is the world safer now?

   Before tackling the problem of humanitarian intervention, It is necessary to explain the changing nature of new wars that paved the way to implement humanitarian intervention.

     In deed, wars used to be performed between states, and civil wars were only the exception. Nowadays, 95% of armed conflicts are intrastates (ibid, p521). States used to be the sole security provider for its citizens. Nowadays, some states are becoming a real security threat to their own citizens.

       The nature of the new armed conflicts was deeply analysed by the prominent scholar Mary Kaldor in her book ”New and Old Wars”, she gave three main characteristics of the new wars;

1- Weapons are directed against civilians and not the military.

2- They are based on identity divisions like race, religion and language.

3- They blur the distinction between crimes and wars (Kaldor, p ix).

     In traditional wars between states, the aim was controlling territory through national armies and the settlement of conflicts was played out in the clear battle field. However, ”the new warfare.. tends to avoid battles and to control territory”(ibid, p8). So, what is aim of these new wars? Mary Kaldor argued the” the aim is to control the population by getting rid of every one of a different identity ( and in deed of a different opinion) and by instilling terror”(ibid, p09).

   That’s why the result of these wars is the unprecedented civilian casualties and massive displacements. In other words, we can say that the ultimate victim is the human dignity and human value itself. But we know that the corner stone of the UN charter is the preservation and enshrinement of state’s sovereignty which means that the preservation of this sovereignty is paramount and archetypical.

   In order to meet this dilemma, the international community started to think about the necessity of the UN reform to make it possible to intervene where ever the humanity is threaten.

    The question which rises here is ; how did the responsibility to intervene develop? And what are the main hurdles to implement it?

       According to the UN charter mainly article 2(7) states were prohibited “from interfering in the domestic affairs of other states”( Williams, p423). Moreover, the use of force as mean of settlement of conflicts in international relation was also prohibited (article 2 (4)). The state sovereignty was seen as a red line that no one was allowed to breach its jurisdiction. This system is well known as the Westphalian system enshrined in 1648.

         This strength was used by some groups or some leaders as a shield to oppress their own people without the interference of any one from outside. “In the 21st century alone some 262 million people were killed by their own government” (ibid, p423).

       However, it is worthy to mention that there are other serious hurdles against interfering in other’s states affairs which are mainly related to the national interest. For example, the US forces withdrew from Somalia after 18 soldiers were killed. However, the number of the US soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq is more higher but the US forces are still there.  The US ambassador in Somalia made it clear saying that” Somalia is not a critical piece of real estate for anybody in the post cold war”(b, Jentlson, p483). Therefore the US is not eager to intervene in places where it has no interest. The same logic was followed in former Yugoslavia. The former US Secretary of State explained the refusal of his government in Yugoslavia saying;”We don’t have a dog in that fight”(ibid, p483). Unfortunately this is the logic of international relations where the quest of national or elite interest is paramount and crucial. “Foreign policy is not a social work”(ibid, p483) it is not the school of Mother Theresa.

    After the end of these wars in Somalia, Sudan, Bosnia and Rwanda, the aftermath was shameful, inhuman and nasty for all those who did not intervene.”The war in Bosnia (1992-1995) left close to a million dead and wounded (800.000) and almost two million displaced”(ibid, p 480). In Rwanda, it was a piece of hell, in less than 100 days, one million Tutsi were killed by their own government. Even after the end of the genocide the UN Security Council refused to intervene (Williams, p423). The tragic irony is that there were a UN peace Keeping mission in Rwanda during the massacre under the command of general Romeo Dallaire who said  in his book;” Shake the hands with the evil; the Failure of Humanity in Rwanda” that the UN peace keeping mission in Rwanda was able to stop the genocide but the UN Headquarter in Washington refused to allow him to do so( Jentlson, p 498).

    He said in his book that he new the place where all the arms used in the genocide were hidden. All what he needed was a permission to act from the UN to confiscate them but the UN refused.

           In 1999, the UN Secretary General Kofi Anan” openly challenged the double standards of Britain and the US over Kosovo, East Timor and Africa...he expressed his bitter regret and apologies”( IISS, Strategic Survey, p247) for the people of Rwanda.

        Kofi Annan made great efforts to reform the UN charter in order to path the way for humanitarian intervention and to correct the previous mistakes.

      The question which rises here is; what do we mean by Humanitarian intervention?

     Catherin Lu gives a conclusive definition to it:”It is a military action, employed without the consent of target sovereign state to prevent or to halt large scale violence and human suffering perpetrated or permitted by its government”(Catherine Lu, p 1). Hence, we can derive three main criteria of a humanitarian intervention:

                 1- The use of military action.

                  2- There is no need for the consent of the target sovereign state.

                  3- It’s aim is either to stop, to prevent human killings.

         Humanitarian intervention was introduced into the UN vocabulary through the notion of “Responsibility to protect”. It was first developed by a commission designed by the UN named the ICISS” The International Commission on Intervention and state Sovereignty”. The Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien took the leadership in announcing its creation in the UN millennium summit in 2000. The assignment of this commission was “to find global consensus on intervention”(Williams, p423). This commission delivered its report to the UN in 2001 under the name of” Responsibility to protect”. The paramount conclusion of this document was” States have the primary responsibility to protect their citizens when they are unable or unwilling to so, or when they deliberately terrorise their citizens”(Williams, p423).When they fail, it becomes the duty of other states to protect victims. In 2005, the UN general assembly committed it self to responsibility to protect (R2P).  Therefore, the common Westphalian temple of non interference was transformed to R2P.

             It is worthy to say that the USA refused to be bound itself with any obligations to intervene for humanitarian purposes every where unless its national interests were at stake. The US representative put it clear saying;” The USA could not offer pre-commitments to engage its military forces where it has no national interests” (Williams, p433”).

            Nevertheless, the efforts of the UN continued and culminated with adoption of the resolution 1674 by the Security Council which enshrined officially the duty to protect civilians.

               This is about humanitarian interventions in general. If we need to assess its viability we need case studies. I have chosen two case studies:

             - Kosovo in 1999 and Libya in 2011:

         -   Kosovo is one part of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, this region is inhabited by Orthodox Christian Serbs in a side and Muslim Albanians in the other side.

      The problematic of this area is that it is situated between Serbia and Albania. Kosovo is seen as a holy place by Serbs (The cradle of Medieval Orthodox churches) and the Albanian Muslims look to it as a symbol of their resistance and long fight for independence. The problem is that the majority of the population are Muslims.

      The two communities were living in harmony for centuries. Troubles came out with 1974 constitution which gave Kosovo a quasi republican status within Yugoslavia ( M, Waller, p viii). With the coming of Milosevic to power in 1989, this autonomy was revoked and Kosovo was added again under the fully control of Serbia.

     The reaction of the Albanian Kosovars was declaring their full independence in 1991. But they were using peaceful means to reach their quest of independence unlike Serbians.

     Nevertheless, ”in 1998-1999, they gradually switched their support to armed struggle”(ibid, p ix). Therefore, (KLA) Kosovo Liberation Army was formed. The reaction of Serbia was brutal, a wave of massive killings started.

         In order to control the dire situation, NATO tried to impose peaceful agreement in Rambouillet (France) in February 1999. But Milosevic refused to agree on them. As a result, the sole method to deal with this criminals was bombings (military Humanism)???

    The NATO campaign was launched without UN permission. Why? Because both Russia and China were eager to veto any resolution against Milosevic in the Security Council. It is worthy to say that this was the first war of NATO as a military alliance. However, this war was against the very founding of this alliance manly Article 05 which limited” the use of force only if one of the member state is attacked”(ibid, p 80).

      The way Kosovo war was couched marked the end of the nation state and the beginning of “Internationalism”. As Tony Blair said;” We cannot turn our back on conflicts and the violation of human rights within other countries”( T, Blair,23/04/1999, p2). He added :“we are all internationalist now, whither we like it or not”(ibid, p2).

     I can not explain the details of this intervention because I have got two case studies, and the space is limited and capped. However, I can summarise it hereunder;

“ The bombing...lasted 79 days with 1200 aircraft dropping around 20000 bombs and hundreds of missiles from a height of 15000 feet”(M, Waller, pvii ). It means that there were no ground forces. Why? In order to avoid the US mistake in Somalia.

      The results of these strikes were devastating; according to official NATO announcement; ”5.000 Yugoslav arm forces were killed, 1.4 million of Albanians displaced to Albania, 100.000 Albanians killed by the Serbs, 850.000 Albanians fled to other countries”(ibid, p vii).

                  How can we assess this intervention in terms of outcome and security?    

-According to NATO, it was a perfect victory. They stopped Milosevic from committing the same cleansing of 1992 in Sarajevo.

          However, according to the London IISS( Institute of International Strategic Studies) review,” No body seriously believed that merely dropping bombs would stop massacres on the ground..It was not by any standards a victory to be trumpeted in historical annals”(IISS, Ed, S Bearman, p 107). Why was it a failure?

            After the end of the campaign in June 1999, the leader of the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) Hachemi Taci was appointed prime minister. Who is this figure?

       According to the Guardian, ”he is the head of a mafia like Albanian group responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs through Eastern Europe”(T, Burnghard, p 1).according to the German Secret State Agency (BND), he is “ the most dangerous of KLA criminal boss”(ibid, p4). The question which rises here is: How can a criminal terrorist like this one access to the position of a Prime Minister? Moreover, he was received by the US vice president Joseph Bidden at the White House(ibid. p3).

    Nowadays, Kosovo is a simmering bomb near the Southern flank of Europe. It is the new road of drugs, heroine coming from Afghanistan, arms trade and human organs trafficking. It is Europe’s mafia state (ibid, p 1).

      This was briefly about Kosovo, our second case study will be Libya. Here, the situation was different from Kosovo, because there was a permission from the UN Security Council to launch the military Intervention.

    Kaddafi was in power from 1969 after a peaceful coup against the King Idriss. During

His long rule, he waged one war against Chad in 1973 and Egypt in  1977. He also supported terrorism against the West.

    He nationalised oil industry in 1970 and closed the British Military bases in Libya. He was a staunch rival of Islamic fundamentalism.

         After the breakout of the so called “Arab Spring” in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen, Libya was infected however, the Libya conflict was much more bloody and violent.

   I am not here to give a full chronology of the uprising but I will only focus on the main steps, I will use the data given by Uppsala University as a reference.

      On the 17th February 2011, the riots started in East Libya. Unlike the other riots, it was an armed rebellion. One week later(24/02/2011), the Libyan riots took the name of  rebels, and they announced their stronghold on a small village near the border of Egypt named Tobruk.

         Three days later, they announced the formation of the National Transitional Council (TNC) which was recognised straight forward by France as the legitimate representation of the Libyan people.

       “One month after the initial day of protest in Libya, the UN Security Council votes in favour of resolution 1723”(Uppsala Conflict Data, p 5). The resolution named “No Fly Zone” was controversial. Why?

     Because,”it was reached after intensive debate, the vote was not unanimous”(ibid, p5). Te7n countries voted yes and five countries abstained, those who abstained are; China, India, Russia and Brazil. These countries used to adopt scenical reactions to any Western agendas. But the problem is that even Germany refused to vote in favour of it. It was the first time since the end of the Second World War that Germany sided with the rest against its Western allies. Why did Germany refused to uphold this resolution?

      Germany was a vital part in the air strike against Milosevic in 1999. And with libya Germany has lost its way?

      In an interview with the German newspaper Der Spiegel, the German Foreign Minister Weterwelle said;” a no fly zone is not a traffic regulation it is a military intervention”(Der Spiegel staff,21/03/2011). Moreover, he criticised the double standards of the West regarding other places in the world like Rwanda, Somalia, Ivory Coast Bahrain and Yemen. Where the humanitarian situation was similar but no one pays them any attention(ibid, p5).

      The position of the German Minister of Defence was more radical he said;” It is simple not acceptable that blood is allowed to flow for oil”(Der Spiegel, 23/03/2011. P 4). This declaration means that Germany is changing to its previous mind. And we know what Mearsheimer expected about the Future of Europe which will be conflict and tragedy. Even the  American famous scholar Michael Klare expected coming wars of petroleum in his book” Blood and oil”( Michael Klare, p xiii).

     The question which rises here is: Why did the other countries abstain?

                       They abstained because there was no conclusive evidence based on ground investigations. According to the Indian spokesman,” today’s resolution was based on very little clear information”(UNSC resolution 1973, 17/03/2011, p 4). In fact, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has sent his special envoy; Mr Khatib to Libya to investigate the claims of the mainstream media and the allegations of the opposition on the ground but this resolution was adopted without giving this envoy sufficient time to finish his report.

              After seven months of the NATO bombing, Khadhafi was captured alive on October the 20th, 2011. Few minutes later he was killed by the rebels. The question which rises here is; Who are this rebels? Why did they kill Kaddafi without decent trial like the Saddam or Milosevic?

           Those who are fighting in Libya are partly moderate Islamists like the head of the NTC Mustapha Abd Aljalil but there are also Extremists Jihadist among them like the head of the Military Headquarter in Tripoly Abdel Hakim Belhaj who was captured by the CIA as a terrorist ( The Guardian,04/09/2011, Martin Chilov, p1).

             An other leader of the rebels named A, Al hassidi said to the BBC that “those who are know fighting in Libya against Kaddafi were before in Iraq fighting against the US “( Blanchard, p 32). These two leaders were influent member in the so called “Libyan Islamic Fighting Group”, LIFG which is considered as a terrorist organisation by the White House (ibid, p 33). And the reaction of this terrorist group was that they declared officially their merger with Al Qaida in November 2011( ibid, p32). What is going on???

    The Head of Global Research Centre in Canada professor M, Chussodosky said about this strange question” Concepts are turned upside down, both Washington and NATO, which claim to be waging a war on terror are supporting a pro- democracy movement integrated by members of terrorist organisations”( M, Chussodovsky, p1).

      Finally, I can say that Kadhafi, Saddem and Milosevic were toppled by Military humanism but peace as a target in Libya, Iraq and Kosovo is still a way off.



     Humanitarian intervention is a main pillar of the so called post Modernism era or globalisation. It started with Kosovo in 1999, enshrined by the UN General Assembly in 2005, applied with the consent of the UN Security Council against Khadafi. May be, it is on its way to the vital state Syria and no one knows who is next.

       The first staunch supporter of it -as I guess -was  Tony Blair who dedicated a long speech to it in the USA during the NATO campaign on Kosovo. He said ;” The most pressing foreign policy problem we face is to identify the circumstances in which we should get actively involved in other’s people conflict”( Tony Blair, 23/04/1999, p 6). He continued speaking about his ambitions” If we want to right every wrong we see in the modern world we would do little else than intervene in the affairs of other countries”( ibid, p7).

              This is very dangerous doctrine that puts the NATO as the judge and policemen of the new world. Moreover, he continued his speech about the case of Kosovo, “once the fight is over, better to stay [in Kosovo] with a moderate number of troops than return for repeat performance with large numbers”( ibid, p7).

             Now the war on Kosovo is over, Milosevic accepted all the principles of Rambouellet treaty that he had refused before the bombings. However, NATO forces are still there after more than 12 years.

     Why had Milosevic refused to agree on the treaty of Rambouillet?  Because it was seen by him as unfair, some of the clauses of this treaty are the following:

    “NATO is granted the use of the airports, roads, rails and ports without payment of the fees, dutees, dues, tolls or charges occasioned by mere use”,(Michael Waller Ed, p 158). In paragraph 6 of this treaty;” NATO personnel under all circumstances and at all times shall be immune from the parties’ jurisdiction in respect of any civil, criminal, administrative or disciplinary offences which may be committed by them in FRY( Yugoslavia)”(ibid, p158).

   I wonder if this not merely a form of occupation? The NATO handlers said that Kosovo is a perfect victory.

      Noam Chomsky replied;” every word is false, but they also know that lies can become truth if repeated insistently enough”( Chomsky, p 240).





Primary references;

1- Tony Blair, “Doctrine of the International Community Speech”, The Economic Club of Chicago, April the 23rd, 1999.

2- Spiegel Staff,” Spiegel interview with the German Foreign Minister, Kaddafi must go, there is no question”,21/03/2011.

3- UN Security Council ,“Resolution 1973, No Fly Zone”,17/03/2011.

4- Uppsala Conflict Data Program, “Timeline of the Arab Spring, a brief summary of key events until 28th October 2011 ”, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Secondary references;

5- Noam Chomsky,” Hegemony or Survival, America’s quest for global dominance”, Holt paper Backs, USA, 2003.

6- Mary Kaldor,” New and Old Wars”, 2nd ed, Polity Press Cambridge, UK, 2006.

7- Oliver Ramsbothan, Tom Woodhouse and Hugh Miall,” Contemporary Conflict resolution”,3rd ed, Polity, UK, 2011.

8- Paul D Williams ed, ”Security Studies an Introduction”, Routledge, UK, 2008.

9- Michael Waller, Kyrill Drezov and Bulent Gokey,” Kosovo, the politics of delusion”, Frank Cass, London, UK, 2001.

10-  Michael T Klare,” Blood and Oil, the dangers of America’s growing dependence on  imported petroleum”, Metropolitan Books, NY, USA, 2004.

11- Catherine LU, ”Just and Unjust Intervention in World’s Politics”, Palgrave Mc Millan, USA, 2006.

12- Sidney Bearmaned,” IISS, Strategic Survey,1999/2000”, Oxford University Press, UK, 2000.

13- Bruce,W, Jentleson,” American Foreign Policy”,4th ed, WW, Norton and Company, USA,2010.


14- Tom Burghardt,”Kosovo: Europe’s Mafia State”, Global Research, December, 22nd,2011.

15-Christopher M Blanchard, ”Libya: Unrest and US policy” ,CRS, March 22nd, 2011.

16- Spiegel staff,” a Serious Mistake of Historic Dimensions, Libya’s crisis leaves Berlin isolated”, Spiegel online,03 March,2011.

17- Prof M, Chussodovsky, “ Our Man in tripoly: US-NATO sponsored Islamic Terrorists integrate Libya’s prodemocracy opposition”, Global Research, April, 3rd, 2011.