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1.1     Background of the Study

Intervention and non-intervention is regarded an activity pattern in the international interactions because of the mutual impact of those members in the international system upon that the international intervention had increased due to the interests that are important for the super powers that interact horizontally and vertically and combine many political, economic and security objectives here. There has been anew widespread view which states that the international human military intervention for the benefit of individuals and populations is justified to stop any dangerous oppressions or practices that hinder basic human rights like genocide or mass killings and bad treatment. The transformations happened for the international system post the cold war and the end socialist countries and the explosion of internal revolution in many countries had participated in the “emergence of the international human military intervention phenomenon, because there were many demands for such thing to face some tyrants here.

The popular uprisings against long-serving and despotic heads of state in North Africa has been dubbed the Jasmine Revolution or Arab Spring. The uprisings, which began in Tunisia in December 2010, and subsequently in Egypt culminated in mass demonstrations against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan Head of State. While the demonstrations that led to the ousting of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt were short-lived, the intransigence of Gaddafi to stand down has consequently plunged Libya into protracted mayhem and bloodshed. The Libyan crisis began as a series of peaceful protests in which Gaddafi’s security services attempted to repress, beginning on 15 February 2011. Within a week, this uprising had spread across the country. Gaddafi responded with military force and other measures as blocking of communications. The situation then escalated into armed conflict, with anti-Gaddafi forces establishing a Transitional National Council (TNC) based in Benghazi.

The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty stated that a state’s freedom from external interference is conditional upon its fulfilment of its sovereign obligation to protect its citizens. This concept, termed the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) (Cruz, 2013), was not without its detractors. Governments in Asia and Latin America claimed the concept sought to legitimize the use of force by strong states against weak ones (Seybolt 2008). Indeed, the role of politics in decisions to intervene has been the subject of ongoing academic debate. Some go as far as to argue an international custom allowing for humanitarian intervention will trigger unjustified interventions based on spurious motives (Tesón 2003). After the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, many questions endure regarding the reasons for NATO’s decision to intervene. Many argue that Nato intervened for economic and political gains while others argue that it was in response to humanitarian call. However, going by the present aftermaths of the attach such as the emergence of Al-Qaida and other dangerous terrorist organizations, the highly detoriating economic power of Libya, political instability and a shaken sovereignty, this research into the way Nato’s intervention in the Libyan crises in 2011 affected Libyan Sovereignty becomes necessary.

1.2     Statement of Problem

NATO’s intervention in Libya has raised much controversy and been subject to opposite assessments. While many analysts, and NATO itself, refer to Operation Unified Protector in Libya as an undeniable success and even a template for future NATO operations, others accuse the Alliance of stretching its United Nations mandate in favour of a preset goal aimed at regime change. Moreover, assessing NATO’s effective engagement in Libya has inevitably triggered comparisons with the parallel case of Syria, which involves a similar humanitarian disaster but has triggered less international and regional enthusiasm for intervention. Importantly, further criticism blames NATO’s operation for the current state of chaos and insecurity in post-Gaddafi Libya. However, one should be careful when assessing NATO’s operation in a manner that balances the successful military operation with the naturally predictable need to act in post-Gaddafi Libya. The following lines attempt to provide an assessment of the intervention in Libya and to sensibly consider its implications for the current and future security situation in the Mediterranean.

In contrast with this outlook, NATO’s intervention in Libya has also received heavy criticism, including charges that the Alliance intentionally expanded its UN mandate, siding with the Libyan protestors with the aim of achieving regime change rather than merely protecting civilians. African leaders, especially, have been particularly loud in accusing NATO of completely disregarding the African Union Road Map for Libya with this aim. Many observers have gone further still and blamed NATO’s intervention for the now torn Libya and the fact that it remains trapped in unceasing violence.

This research work therefore concerns itself with the major causes that pushed toward the international military intervention in Libya, particularly its impact on the national sovereignty, and the controversy regarding the western justifications for the reasons of the international human military intervention.

1.3     Research Questions

  1. What is the nature of Libyan Sovereignty and Nato intervention in Lybia?
  2. How did international community react to Nato intervention?
  3. How has Nato intervention affected Libya Sovereignty?

1.4     Objectives of the Study

The present study was conducted to achieve a general objective of x-raying how Nato’s intervention in Libya has affected her sovereignty.  Specifically, the study intends to;

  1. Investigate Libyan sovereignty and Nato intervention.
  2. Analyze international reactions to Nato intervention.
  3. Determine the effect of Nato intervention on Libya sovereignty.

1.5     Literature Review

In 2001, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty stated that a state’s freedom from external interference is conditional upon its fulfilment of its sovereign obligation to protect its citizens. This concept, termed the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) (Adetuni, 2013), was not without its detractors. Governments in Asia and Latin America claimed the concept sought to legitimize the use of force by strong states against weak ones (Seybolt, 2008).

Chivvis (2014) argues in his book (reviewed by WOTR’s Jack Mulcaire) that in March 2011, two major arguments existed within the administration for intervention in Libya. The first was humanitarian: the concern that Muammar Qaddafi would slaughter citizens. The second argument related to the Arab Spring uprisings, and the idea that decisive support for the revolution would vividly demonstrate that the United States supported the uprisings across the region.

Indeed, the role of politics in decisions to intervene has been the subject of ongoing academic debate. Some go as far as to argue an international custom allowing for humanitarian intervention will trigger unjustified interventions based on spurious motives (Tesón, 2003). After the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, many questions endure regarding the reasons for NATO’s decision to intervene.

Jan, (2012) argued that although the locus of power in decision-making still resides mainly within the permanent members of the Security Council, a substantial role is reserved for regional organizations in their role as gatekeepers and policy catalysts. This research questioned the generally accepted notion that the intervention should be viewed as a success for the Responsibility to Protect. Although the intervention and resolutions on Libya can be seen as a triumph for the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, the actors involved still vary widely in their commitment to the doctrine, which is clearly seen in the way the Libyan no-fly zone was prepared, implemented and subsequently evaluated.

Humanitarian intervention is founded on liberal understandings of a moral obligation to protect human rights. Fernando Tesón, (2003)an academic proponent of liberal interventionism, argues that “if a situation is morally abhorrent, then neither the sanctity of national borders nor a general prohibition against war should by themselves preclude humanitarian intervention”. What’s more, Tesón states that liberal states have a moral “obligation to rescue victims of tyranny or anarchy” (Tesón, 2003). From this perspective, the international community authorized the use of force in Libya to defend those protesting the Gaddafi regime. This narrative argues that after more than 40 years of oppression, Libyans rose up to call for freedom and democracy. Liberal states, in turn, had a moral imperative to intervene against an unjust, undemocratic regime. In this scenario, international law through the UNSC maintained international peace and security. Through this liberal prism, politics had an irrelevant or secondary role; human rights violations were sufficient to prompt a humanitarian intervention. Although this narrative was propagated throughout the Libyan conflict, this interpretation ignores NATO’s pursuit of a political objective, which, at times, undermined its mandate to protect civilians. NATO used more than 200 cruise missiles and 20,000 bombs in its operation in Libya, including on non-military targets, to support the opposition (Pugliese, 2012). Human Rights Watch stated that NATO’s actions directly resulted in more than 70 confirmed civilian deaths, including women and children (NATO, 2012). The New York Times found “significant damage to civilian infrastructure from certain attacks for which a rationale was not evident or risks to civilians were clear” (Chivers, 2011). Furthermore, as the operation wore on, NATO began to strike the homes of Gaddafi loyalists, killing women and children. In one instance, NATO bombed the house of Brigadier General MusbahDiyab, killing not only him but also seven women and children. Evidently, NATO pursued an aggressive, offensive strategy, overstepping its UN mandate (Leaders, 2011). The military strategy was in line with a political objective of regime change. In fact, after the death of Gaddafi, some within the NATO establishment have ceased denying such a policy existed. In a New York Times Op-Ed, Ivo Daalder, US Ambassador to NATO, stated the operation demonstrated “the use of limited force – precisely applied – can affect real, positive political change”. What’s more, human rights abuses were documented on both sides. As the rebels gained momentum in the conflict, their actions grew increasingly violent with reports of arbitrary detentions, disappearances, torture and summary executions (Amnesty International, 2011). In one incident, the bodies of 53 Gaddafi loyalists were found executed with their hands tied (HRW, 2011). NATO’s aggressive offensive actions, which ignored the opposition’s war crimes, are at odds with the liberal interpretation. NATO’s actions were demonstrably in pursuit of much more than protecting civilians. As such, a purely moralistic reading of the intervention should be tempered with this reality on the ground. To explain the war in Libya from a neorealist perspective, one has to consider the development of the Rogue Doctrine in US security policy (Gamble and Andrew, 1999). Rogue, (2014) states are revisionist by nature, threatening US national security and seeking to upset the status quo. Gaddafi, for instance, had a notoriously combative relationship with the West. Indeed, one of the first official uses of the rogue label was by President Clinton citing the “‘danger’ posed by “rogue states such as Iran and Libya” (O’Reilly, 2013). Containment and detente are ineffective; the US instead needed to employ the use of force, including pre-emption. Security policy has two courses of action through this realist doctrine. First, because the US is stronger, confrontation and conflict is favourable. Second, US capabilities, including military force can produce relative gains for the US. Thus, even though conflict is costly – especially military conflict – the US is able to achieve a net gain through the use of force against rogue states[10]. As such, the US intervention in Libya was more so about advancing national security interests in an anarchic system by eliminating a rogue regime through the use of force. Through the neorealist interpretation, it is human rights that are irrelevant or ancillary to this prime objective. As detailed, NATO’s aggressive pursuit of regime change supports this claim. In addition, neorealists reject the liberal argument that international law can temper anarchy and regulate state behaviour, claiming instead that international law is simply a tool to be used and misused by powerful states. Once again, empirical evidence would appear to support this premise. Foremost, NATO overstepped its authorized mandate. UNSC Resolution 1973 did not authorize offensive action or regime change. South African President Jacob Zuma said he was “not happy” that a no-fly zone “became the bombing cover for the [rebels]” (Leaders, 2011). Furthermore, NATO violated the arms embargo by actively supplying weapons to the rebels, even though many had links to extremism. NATO also violated the framework of the UN resolution through the use of British, American and Canadian soldiers on the ground (Wang, Fitzpatrick 2011). Thus, for neorealists, political calculations were central for NATO’s decision to intervene. Marxists would agree with neorealists that NATO’s decision to intervene had more to do with politics than human rights. However, for Marxists, economic interests take precedent. State preferences are not crafted by rational unitary state actors; instead, they are heavily influenced by the upper socioeconomic strata. Gamble states that “what states did abroad very clearly reflected the interests of the dominant sections of their national capital and not just something as vague as national interest”. According to this interpretation, economics and politics and fundamentally intertwined so much so that the state is malleable to ruling-class interests and seeks to create favourable conditions for capital accumulation. Colonel Gaddafi had a well-documented tense relationship with Western commerce. Once Gaddafi was ousted, Western financial interests would be in a prime position to benefit from a liberalized economic system. Indeed, the National Transitional Council said that it intends to reward countries that supported its fight. British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond urged companies to “pack their suitcases” and head to Libya, prompting some to posit that the “starting pistol” for Libya’s resources has been fired (Adetunji, Krauss 2011). What’s more, Hammond stated that while much of Libya lay in ruins, “great care had been taken” to avoid destroying critical infrastructure necessary for commercial operations (Adetunji, 2011). These financial interests were not merely reacting to new business opportunities; rather, Libya’s “coming bonanza” was an ongoing topic amongst transnational economic networks well before the regime collapsed (Walt, 2011). Economist Joseph Stiglitz implicitly concurs with a Marxist interpretation of the use of force to open previously closed markets. He states that the US has adopted “an increasingly hard-powered economic agenda,” noting “America’s international political economy was driven by a whole variety of special interests which saw the opportunity to force other countries to open their markets to its goods on its terms” (Steger, 2008). As such, through this theoretical framework, the Libyan conflict was a result of capitalist interests seeking to upend the Libyan political system to benefit particular upper-class interests. Liberals would counter that even though political objectives were evident in Libya, they do not trump humanitarian objectives nor do they negate the need to act to avert a humanitarian crisis. In fact, Taylor, (2008) argues that humanitarian intervention is inherently political, so much so that its success requires a clear, attainable political objective. Some liberals would also argue offensive action is justifiable. Tesón, (2008) states that causing harm, including the death of innocents, is justifiable as long as the intervention saves more lives). Yet, in Libya, even this nuanced argument would not justify the conduct of the intervention. Seumas, (2011) states; “it is now absolutely clear that, if the purpose of intervention in Libya’s civil war was to save lives, it has been a catastrophic failure”. The UN estimates 1,000-2,000 people died before the intervention; during the eight month conflict, estimates of the death toll range from 10,000-50,000 (Milne, 2011). For a liberal interpretation of the conflict in Libya that moves away from a rigid moral interpretation, one has to turn to democratic peace theory.  This theory posits “differences in religion, language, and other characteristics contribute to war” (Levy, 1989).

NATO intervened in Libya because of the absence of institutional similarities or likeminded social, political and economic beliefs. NATO as a collective security arrangement guarantees peace among its members but requires assertive actions against outsiders. From this vantage point, the Libyan intervention was not just about curbing human rights violations; it was also about the promotion of democratic values through regime change. While this argument may have more empirical support, it nonetheless undermines the notion that protecting civilians was the prime motivator for NATO’s intervention. This would explain why NATO looked the other way when the opposition committed human rights violations. Ultimately, NATO needed rebel boots on the ground to institute a political change. Humanitarian Intervention after Libya Nearly two years after the fall of the Gaddafi regime, questions endure regarding the reasons for NATO’s decision to intervene. Empirical evidence suggests a political objective superseded humanitarian considerations. A liberal interpretation arguing for the primacy of human rights cannot account for NATO’s conduct during the conflict. Neorealist and Marxist interpretations on the other hand provide intriguing theoretical explanations arguing for the primacy of political motivations. Nevertheless, normatively, humanitarian intervention was not intended to be a shortcut to regime change. Seybolt, (2008) makes an important point here: “humanitarian intervention might be less likely in future situations where civilians truly need help if the claim of humanitarian motives is doubted because of past misuse”. Indeed, Russia and China have repeatedly correlated their decisions to block UNSC resolutions on Syria with reference to NATO’s actions in Libya.

NATO’s intervention was thus executed nearly flawlessly, yet appears to be a strategic mistake. In weighing the costs and benefits of the operation, one would naturally begin with the immediate danger that spurred NATO to act: the humanitarian concern that Qaddafi would have crushed the opposition to his regime in Benghazi. Some scholars, such as Alan (2013), argue that, although lives were saved in Benghazi, the fact that NATO prolonged the war cost more lives than it saved. It’s unclear if Kuperman’s conclusion is correct — counterfactual analysis is notoriously difficult — but his point that the intervention likely prolonged the conflict seems right. And the situation that NATO’s intervention left behind in Libya has cost further lives in Mali, Egypt, Algeria, and possibly Tunisia. Thus, it is not clear that the intervention has saved lives on the whole. As to the desire to get on the right side of the Arab Spring, speeding up tumultuous events in the region has made it more difficult for the United States to positively influence outcomes in a variety of countries. This has been harmful to U.S. interests; and it has been harmful, too, from a solely humanitarian perspective.

It may be difficult to hear that such a well-intentioned intervention seems to have produced more harm than good. However, it is necessary to evaluate the impact of any military action we take with the clearest of eyes.

Sally (2012) noted that despite its success, NATO’s operation in Libya elicits many reflections and has several implications for the current and future security situation in the Mediterranean. One reflection regards the future role of Europe in Mediterranean security in light of the general impression that European powers took the lead in NATO’s operation. A second reflection regards the implications of what seems to be unfinished business in Libya, due to the continued violence in the country and the apparent lack of stability.

Grimstad, (2001) summarized the humanitarian military intervention and concluded that permitting the other nations to intervene and individually will be considered a violation for the national sovereignty principle. Almohammed, (2007) concluded that any humanitarian intervention that includes using the military force is a violation for the principles that were determined by the legislators who support this type of intervention, and added that any intervention of this type is launched upon political interests. Aljundi, (2003) concluded that there is a contradiction between the sovereignty concept and the humanitarian military intervention. Archibugi,(2003) talked about the historical origins of the humanitarian intervention since the emergence the United Nations till the post cold war era, he concluded that the relationship between any intervention case and the sovereignty principle is controversial, but when the case includes severe violations for the human rights the intervention becomes a necessity, and that any intervention during the cold war era was individual, but after that the cases ere collective, and that to end any tension between the intervention and sovereignty concepts the intervention must be collective by the UN or the security council and to have an international force to intervene in any urgent case. Yaqoub, (2001) dealt with the international variables impact post the cold war on the sovereignty and no intervene principles, and concluding that there is no absolute sovereignty during these conditions because the sovereignty principle became a relative concept and having undetermined interpretation for the intervention concept. Shahin, (2004) defended the UN intervention legitimacy, and rejected any individual intervention case, and he concluded that there are double standards applied about this concept. Jin, (2005) investigated the historical development of humanitarian intervention since the beginning of the UN till the post cold war era, he concluded that there is a Tension Between Sovereignty and the intervention cases, but due to the increasing cases of human rights violations, intervention becomes a necessity to stop it, and what distinguished the cold war intervention cases is that it was individual, but after that it became collective. He concluded that the best way to settle the tension between Sovereignty and intervening is to have a collective or group intervention that is organized by the UN or the Security Council.

1.6     Significance of the Study

The significance of this study cannot be over emphasized, this is because of the role it will play in providiing a clear account as much as it can of the events that led to the Libya war and its aftermaths. The international organizations, Nato and various human rights organizations will at the end be equipped with bright ideas on how to approach a similar case as the Libyan situation next time. The Libyan people also will be opportune to learn about the places they messed up in the Libyan uprising and how it has endangered their sovereignty. Sister nations and tyrants around the world will also have a feel of what the world can do to tyranny. World leaders will also appreciate the need to respect international treaties and have allies.

On the other hand, scholars and students will find this material relevant for future studies.

1.7     Theoretical Framework

The basic theoretical principle of international relations since 1648 has been that of sovereign dominion. The Peace of Munster accorded rulers the inalienable right of dominion within their territories – “free exercise of Territorial Right” (Article 64, Peace of Munster, 1648), adding that those same rulers may not “be molested therein by any whomsoever upon any manner of pretence” (Article 64, Peace of Munster, 1648).

By implication therefore is that countries and there rulers must be independent of foreign interference in her domestic affairs and that any encroachment therefore is forbidden. This article made nations rulers extremely powerful thus the unresponsive oppression of its citizens. At the World Summit of 2005, however, the General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously committed itself to principles of humanitarian protection which arguably challenged this as never before.

Theoretical, legal exceptions and practical challenges to the rule of Westphalian sovereignty norms had been mounted before Responsibility to Protect (R2P). Nineteenth century jurists 4 Stephen Krasner argues that the term Westphalian sovereignty should properly be renamed „Vattellian sovereignty‟ such was the significance of the Swiss jurist‟s contribution,  Krasner (1999), but particularly conversations with history  interview at Berkeley (2003) argued for a view of sovereign independence and the attendant norm of non-interference circumscribed by similar conditions to those seen in late 20th and early 21st century versions. The formulation acts which shock the conscience of mankind  is a 19th Century legal expression aimed at limiting notions of absolute sovereignty (Walzer,  2002). It is repeated in the preamble to the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (1998) which declares itself Mindful  unimaginable atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity.

The question therefore of if Nato’s intervention in Lybia was justifiable and not a breach of the chatter on sovereignty of a nation is answered by the theory of Sovereign Dominion as amended in line with a humane face to ensure that leaders excessiveness when detrimental to the life’s and happiness of the citizens is checked with an international military response.

1.8     Hypotheses

There are assumptions upon which thus study is conducted. These assumptions are what we consider the hypotheses for this study. The assumptions are thus;

  1. H0: Nato’s intervention in Libya is more economically and politically motivated that humanitarian and principle based.

H1:    Nato’s intervention in Libya is humanitarian and principle based than economically and politically motivated that.

  1. H0: The international community responded swiftly to the Libyan crises on reasons provided by Nato with a few exceptions and after condemnations based on the perceived sinitive motives of the Nato members.

H1:    The international community did not respond swiftly to the Libyan crises on reasons provided by Nato with a few exceptions and after condemnations based on the perceived sinitive motives of the Nato members.

  1. H0: Nato’s intervention in Libya is a clear encroachment on the Libyan sovereignty with a lasting implications on Libyan Sovereignty.

H1:    Nato’s intervention in Libya is not a clear encroachment on the Libyan sovereignty with a lasting implications on Libyan Sovereignty.

1.9     Methodology

This study will adopt the Descriptive analytical approach that describes the international intervention phenomenon as it is and explains it. The case study method will single out Libya as already done so that studying it deeply will result in more accurate results for the case of international intervention in Libya. Data will be gathered from existing literatures on the Libyan crises. Data will be presented in the body of this work under different related headings. The Study time range covers the period between the year 2010-2017 taking into consideration that the study doesn’t follow the sequence of events specifically trying to shed the light on the general characteristics of this phenomenon and the combined events like: the Arabic Spring, the evolution of the sovereignty concept, human rights and the international protection acts till date.



1.10   Operationalization of key Terms

Sovereignty:  Sovereignty concept is based upon the fact that the state owns the right for domination of its territories and citizens living in this region and that it’s independent from any external domination, free will and recognized by other states. Sovereignty means controlling the territory (Anghie, 2004,). Also it’s defined as the practice of the state for its vital rules on clearly defined boarders land , and that there is a supreme authority by a political society controlling local issues including self governance and non- intervention (by other states ). The other states recognition and non- intervention in its internal affairs legitimizes its authority as a vital factor for recognizing its real and official sovereignty , and that recognizing this sovereignty means that there is a political society recognized by international society (Zaum, 2007)

Nato: This is an acronym for North Atlantic treaty Organization. It is an intergovernmental military alliance between several North American and European states based on the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4th April 1949. The organization sort to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means.

Intervention: This means any interference that may affect the interests of others; especially, of one or more state with the affairs of another, meditation.

Crises: A crises is any event that is going to lead to an unstable and dangerous situation affecting an individual, group, community, or whole society.




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