NATO intervention contravenes UN charter

THE Russian Prime Minister is reported as saying that the NATO campaign in Libya violated the principle of sovereignty and the wishes of the Libyan people ("Putin steps up critique of Libya strikes", April 28). Apart from this report there has been a singular dearth in the Australian media of critiques or commentary on the legality or motivations of the NATO powers in Libya, nothing like in Britain, for example, where there is considered and anguished analyses by Adrian Hamilton and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown from The Independent.

Without rehearsing their arguments, it is worth noting that what is going on in Libya departs violently from the United Nations Charter obligations on members to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state and not to intervene in matters that are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state. In the early post-colonial decades of the UN these obligations, of all charter provisions, were the ones most zealously maintained and fought for by small and emergent states against former imperial powers.

What we are seeing now looks very like opportunistic imperial recidivism by Western permanent members of the Security Council using Chapter 7 action "as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security".

Colonel Gaddafi certainly is not everyone's idea of a stable and benevolent dictator, but he has not been the most repressive of his kind and has enjoyed a fair measure of domestic support. Thousands of willing guest workers from North Africa and Eastern Europe have enjoyed working in Libya for several decades rather than in their home states. He also had reached a modus vivendi with the West over Lockerbie and nuclear weapons development so that Libya was accepted as a desirable partner in arms, oil and other commercial deals.

No wonder Arab League members and other small states are having second thoughts about their initial support for the UN Security Council Resolution 1973.

[Source: The Sidney Morning Herald, 30Apr11]

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