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Wednesday 23 Aug 2017 | 12:35 | SYDNEY

Applying R2P to Libya

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COMMENTS

23 February 2011 13:26

Mark Lynch, over at Foreign Policy magazine, begins the argument that the West should intervene in Libya:

We should not be fooled by Libya's geographic proximity to Egypt and Tunisia, or guided by the debates over how the United States could best help a peaceful protest movement achieve democratic change. The appropriate comparison is Bosnia or Kosovo, or even Rwanda where a massacre is unfolding on live television and the world is challenged to act. It is time for the United States, NATO, the United Nations and the Arab League to act forcefully to try to prevent the already bloody situation from degenerating into something much worse.

Shadi Hamid, from the Brookings Doha Centre has also endorsed applying the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle to Libya, offering a potential option:

For starters, let's talk about NATO moving to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya

The idea of R2P was developed in response to the genocides and mass human rights abuses in the 1990s. But it may offer a way to respond to the uprisings in the Middle East. Where governments respect human rights while facing popular protests (as generally occurred in Egypt), then countries can be confident of the West's non-intervention and able to organise their own affairs. Where countries act contrary to international norms, then a response occurs on a sliding scale, from penalties (the EU is eyeing sanctions) and attempts to limit the violence, through to intervention in an extreme case.

Of course, we can't yet know if intervening would make things better or worse for Libya's people, but we ought to begin the conversation. Hopefully intervention won't be needed in Libya, but re-legitimising the idea of humanitarian interventions and demonstrating support for R2P, can only help for when we really do need to act.

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