NATO’s Operation in Libya Officially Ends
The United Nations Security Council has officially ended NATO’s protection of civilians mandate in Libya, following the death of Muammar Gaddafi, through a unanimous adoption of Resolution 2016. The Council urged Libyan authorities to ‘promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms’ for the entire population, including African migrants and foreign nationals, as well as former officials and detainees.
It welcomed the ‘positive’ developments in Libya and looked forward to the establishment of an ‘inclusive, representative transitional government’ that was supported by democratic principles. These actions followed a briefing during which the representative of Libya expressed the desire for an end to the provisions of resolution 1973.
Tunisia in Transition
Tunisia still faces a number of competing concerns in its transition to democracy and will have to balance political change against the need for stability, and continue to reform its security services, according to a recent report from the International Crisis Group.
Popular Protests in North Africa and the Middle East (IV): Tunisia’s Way examines the origins of political change in the North African country and the situation following the departure of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali; and concludes that despite the political upheaval, Tunisia has had an encouraging start.
However, the report warns that the new leadership must address some competing concerns. These include encouraging dialogue between Islamist parties and secular forces, and implementing social justice reform – of which international assistance will play an important part.
In addition, reform of security services is a key recommendation by the group. It calls for the centralising of security services, reorganising security forces’ and police’s organisational structures, and establishing a program to train security forces with international help.
While the protests in Tunisia sparked a political victory, they also affected the country in other areas. Tourism was devastated and foreign investment harmed. Regionally, oil prices increased and conflict in Libya provoked a refugee crisis on Tunisia’s borders.
However, the report finds more cause for celebration than alarm. Robert Malley, Crisis Group’s Middle East and North Africa Program Director, points out that, ‘Tunisia is where it all began’ and ‘it is also where the promise of a successful democratic transition is greatest. For the region and the rest of the world, that should provide ample reason to pay attention and help Tunisians pursue their path.’
Post-conflict justice often eludes victims of atrocities in Muslim-majority countries because of poor governance, weak rule of law and human development deficits – features common among conflict-prone societies rather than being specific to Islamic societies or jurisprudence, according to this report from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).
USIP recently sponsored a workshop to address whether there are fundamental incompatibilities between the Shari’a and related texts and established international law concepts of post conflict justice, documenting their findings in a brief report entitled, Analyzing Post-Conflict Justice and Islamic Law.
Participants largely agreed that the principles of Islamic law broadly align with international legal norms of truth, accountability and compensation for victims of mass crimes and human rights abuse; however, there was debate over questions of what constitutes the Shari’a and why many Muslim governments fail to implement these norms.
However, despite social and criminal justice being a fundamental principle of Islamic law, the issue has attracted little scholarly attention – a significant gap, especially In light of recent popular uprisings against authoritarian regimes in North Africa and the Middle East.
Participants stressed the need for further study and discussion to identify and resolve potential discrepancies between classical Islamic jurisprudence and contemporary issues with the goal to establish an authoritative set of basic Islamic legal principles that support institutional approaches to post-conflict justice issues.
Human Insecurity in the Arab World
Seven years after the publication of the first Arab Human Development Report in 2002 by the United Nations Development Programme, the latest study has found that obstacles to human development are still pervasive in the Arab region. Of particular note is the region’s long history of occupation and military intervention has stood in the way of political reform.
The 2009 report suggests the reason for this lies in the fragile nature of the region’s political, social, economic and environmental structures, in its inadequate development policies, and its vulnerabilities to outside interventions.
Environmental stresses, volatile economies, food insecurity, health security challenges, threats to personal security, the performance of governments, and occupation and military intervention, make up what the report terms, ‘seven dimensions of threat’ to the general stability and development of the region.
In seeking a solution, the report works within the concept of human security – the ‘rearguard of human development’. This is because, according to the report’s authors, development is more likely to be successful where all citizens are empowered, governments are accountable, and security threats are eliminated.
The report makes seven key areas of recommendation to address the seven threat dimensions: preserving the environment; guaranteeing essential rights, freedoms and opportunities without discrimination; a recognition by the state and society of abuses and injustices; addressing the weaknesses of the Arab oil economy; ending hunger and poverty in all sub-regions; promoting health for all as a human right; recognising that continuing occupation and military intervention is self-defeating and unacceptable.
UN Resolution 1973 Sparks New Debate on Protection
A ‘new’ politics of protection is guiding international responses to security crises, led by an increasing willingness by the UN Security Council to authorise the use of military force for civilian protection as reflected in international responses to the crises in Cote d’Ivoire and Lybia, according to academics Alex Bellamy and Paul Williams. These new policies have four principal characteristics.
First, human protection has been the framework used by the Security Council for these crises. Second, with the adoption of Resolution 1973 in Libya, the Security Council, for the first time, authorised the use of force without the consent from a host state. Third, regional organisations have become important actors for the Security Council. Finally, international society now works through the Security Council to respond to human protection crises.
In the Libyan situation, the Security Council approved the use of force due to consensus at the regional level, general opposition to the Gaddafi regime, the necessity to act immediately, and the lack of dispute over the nature of the threat. Other circumstances have proven less clear with political differences dividing opinion on how to respond, as was the case in Cote d’Ivoire. Concerns about the UN’s role against the Gbagbo regime, the use of force by UN peacekeepers and French troops in Cote d’Ivoire, and the UN’s decision to override the Constitutional Council raised questions about the interpretation of Resolution 1975, and the impartiality of UN peacekeeping.
Thus, the cases of Libya and the Cote d’Ivoire have raised unresolved challenges that could stand in the way of action on future crises. These challenges are the problems of interpreting Security Council mandates, the complicated relationship between human protection and other goals such as regime change, the role of regional organisations, and bringing external actors into local crises. What is clear is that it is easier to agree to protect civilians in principle than it is to find agreement on what to do in specific circumstance.
Nevertheless, a ‘new’ politics of protection, Bellamy and Williams argue, has steadily evolved over the past ten years. They stress that the international community is now firmly focused on the protection of civilians, of which the UN Secretariat has played an important role in establishing; and the UN Security Council now shows willingness to authorise the use of military force for the sake of human protection.
Ten Reads on… The Horn of Africa
- The Horn of Africa: Politics and International Relations
- Hunger pains: famine in the Horn of Africa
- Humanitarian response is adequate in Horn of Africa crisis
- Women must be central to global aid efforts
- Multiplying crises create 43 million refugees
- Purge of East Africa’s threats is key to stability
- The AU’s Problems in the Horn of Africa
- Transnational Islamist (Jihadist) Movements and Inter-State Conflicts in the Horn of Africa
- Seeking peace and security in the Horn of Africa: the contribution of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development
- The geopolitics of insecurity in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula
The Civil-Military Digest – November 2011 by Olivia Cribb, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia License.