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Crisis alert: The Responsibility to Protect in Libya

23 febrero 2011 No Comment

Crisis Alert: The Responsibility to Protect in Libya

Political protests demanding an end to Muammar Gaddafi’s 41-year reign began on February 14, 2011 in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, and have since spread across the North African state. The government of Libya has responded forcefully by dispatching the national army to crush the unrest. Gaddafi, in a speech broadcasted on February 22, 2011, said he would rather die a martyr than to step down, and called on his supporters to attack and “cleanse Libya house by house” until protestors surrender.

International Crisis Group has reported that military aircrafts and forces were indiscriminately firing at civilians and that foreign mercenaries were being used to target and attack protestors, resulting in the deaths of over 300 people. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated on 21 February that he was shocked and disturbed by accounts that Libyan authorities fired on demonstrators, and declared that the attacks, serious violations of international humanitarian law, must stop immediately. UN experts have echoed the Secretary-General’s sta tement and have condemned Gaddafi’s massacre of his own people, demanded investigations into the attacks, and stated that gross violations of human rights could amount to crimes against humanity.

The Arab League has discontinued the participation of the Libyan delegation in its meetings until violence has ended and the demands of the Libyan people are met while respecting their right to protest and their safety. In addition, Libya’s Justice and Interior Ministers have resigned, and two senior Libyan fighter pilots defected to Malta, refusing to obey orders to rain bombs on protestors in the city of Benghazi, showing that Gaddafi is rapidly loosing support. Al-Jazeerareported that diplomats at Libyan embassies in the US, the UN, the Arab League, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Poland, India and Bangladesh have either resigned or disavowed links to the government, and have declared that they stand with the protestors and called for international intervention. Libya’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UNstated that the crimes which have been committed amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes, and called for the UN to create a “no fly zone” and for the International Criminal Court to investigate Gaddafi for violations of international humanitarian law.

The indiscriminate and widespread use of force by Gaddafi’s government against the Libyan population has clearly turned this situation in which crimes against humanity, one of the crimes included in the RtoP framework,are being committed. The Security Council, in a press statement, as well as the Special Advisors on the Prevention of Genocide and RtoP, in a press release, have reminded Libya of its responsibility to protect its population and called for an immediate end to the violence. Civil society groups all around the world have started calling on the UN, European Union, African Union and other world leaders to embrace th eir Responsibility to Protect Libyan people.The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect stated that the potential for continuing or even escalating atrocities was all too real and called on Member States to take immediate action to protect the population of Libya from mass atrocities. Recommendations by NGOs include imposing sanctions on key regime members and an arms embargo; establishing a “no fly” zone over the entire country and establishing a commission of enquiry; and if necessary referring the situation in Libya to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

The articles below provide further analysis on the situation in Libya as well as more recommendations from civil society organizations.

I. UN experts denounce massive human rights violations

1. Special Advisors on the Prevention of Genocide and RtoP condemn widespread and systematic attacks against civilian populations; fear crimes against humanity

2. UN Security Council issues press statement; recalls Libya’s responsibility to protect its population

3. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights –Pillay calls for international inquiry into Libyan violence and justice for victims

4. UN High Commissioners for Refugees fears for the safety of refugees caught in Libya’s violence

II. Calls by civil society to halt mass atrocities

1. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect – Open Statement on the situation in Libya

2. Urgent call from 24 NGOs  to Stop Atrocities in Libya; Remind international community of RtoP

3. Human Rights Watch – Libya: Governments should demand end to unlawful killings

4. International Crisis Group – Immediate international steps needed to stop atrocities in Libya

5. Civicus – UN Must invoke “Responsibility to Protect” to prevent unlawful killings

6. Genocide Intervention Network – Mass Atrocities in Libya

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