Aug 19, 2012

“Legal controversies pertaining to the use of force of the UNSC mandate in Libya”

University of Amsterdam
Public International Law
July 20th 2012

By Alexander Lipen
Telephone nr: 0031624905709

Supervisor: Dr. Jean d’Aspermont




The tragedy of the African continent will remain inscribed in human history. For centuries Europe colonized enslaved and exploited the African resources. Even more dramatic are the blood-soaked battles for colonial independence in the 20th century. Perhaps this is the reason why the European use of force in Libya in the 21st century might leave some with an awkward feeling. Does the West truly have a right to intervene, after all that has been done previously? Or does Europe have a duty to intervene after all that has been done to show the “correct ways of liberal democracy”? [2]

On March 19th 2011, a number of NATO countries engaged in a military intervention against Libya as “Operation Odyssey Dawn”. Claims were made that the event was the most successful mission of the NATO alliance in history. [3] In accordance with the representatives, the intervention was a necessity to protect human rights, civil lives and democratic development of the country.

In the same time, during the intervention, a number of leading scholars and countries criticized the controversy, pertaining to the legal issues of the use of force. These have risen during the execution of the UN SC mandate.
As the war wages on, both on the ground and on the internet [4], legal scholars of opposite ideologies find themselves caught up in a battle of their own.

The disagreement amongst scholars lies within the interpretation of the UNSC mandate’ permission towards the use of force versus the conformity with the meaning, set forth in the vague terminology. Specifically, did the actions by foreign states exceed the given mandate and do we have to control the respect of the limits of the mandate?

Once again we may see, that the international law is not always clear: E.g. the practice on recognition, the principle of non-intervention in Civil wars, may provide diverging results within practice and theory.
It is crucial to acknowledge that the way we cope with the circumstances in Libya, is the way in which international law might reflect our future.

The basic premise of independent international law with coherent inter-state equality is that law may not be misused for the interests of the more powerful[5]. Par in parem non habet imperium. With the case of Libya I tend to analyze whether this remains the case, or are some states “more equal then others”?

In casu, we consider an internal conflict. A civil war waged between a part of the population and the governmental forces. Yet the international community found a need to intervene in this internal matter, whilst legally justifying the act. [6]
In My thesis I shall analyze the legal issues pertaining to the use of force of the UNSC mandate and the legal controversies resulting consequently.

[2] Mansell W., Meteyard B., Thompson A., “A critical introduction to law” chapter 10, p. 152 “Legitimation, Sovereignty and Globalization”: “To readers of The End of History and the Last man, these notions will be familiar. The (sophisticated) argument here, with which we disagree, is that liberal democracy and market oriented economic order are progressively becoming the only viable option for modern societies. The disagreement arises over the content both of “liberal democracy” and the inevitability of market oriented economic order.” Cavendish Publishing LTD 1999
[3] NY Times, NATO’s Success in Libya. October 30, 2011
[4]arquilla J., Ronfeldt D., “Cyberwar is Coming!: Comparative Strategy”, p. 141–165. Taylor & Francis Inc. 1993
[5] Malcolm Shaw, “International Law” Cambridge University Press 2003, p. 1161
[6] UN SC Resolution 1973 (2011)
Legal Controversies Pertaining to the Use of Force of the UNSC Mandate in Libya

Thanks to Mr. Alexander Lipen 
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