Libmonster ID: U.S.-1298


Candidate of Historical Sciences

Libya Keywords:NATOUnited Defender , UN Human Rights Council.

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

The NATO operation in Libya and regime change as a result of military intervention from outside have raised a number of important issues related to the application of international law in resolving internal conflicts. In particular, on what principles the international community should build cooperation in providing assistance to States caught up in internal conflicts so that it does not go beyond the existing principles of international law and does not turn into outright complicity with forces that are more interested in overthrowing unwanted governments than in implementing democratic transformations.

Operation United Defender in Libya, which was mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 1973 of March 17, 2011.1, which provided for the protection of the civilian population, demonstrated the desire of a number of States - primarily Western and Persian Gulf countries - to actively use foreign intervention as a foreign policy tool to ensure the fight against the "undesirable"ones modes and the achievement of certain interests.

Such external military intervention has been touted as a legitimate tool for the international community to assist nations "fighting against tyranny." Moreover, this approach is recognized as equally effective in relation to any state-regardless of its role in the regional security system, the specifics of its political and ethno-religious structure, and the readiness of the population for change. Such tactics are intended to reinforce approaches aimed at eroding the principle of State sovereignty and promoting the concept of "responsibility to protect". Its goal is to achieve regime change in the shortest possible time-and often at no cost.


Operation United Defender was highly appreciated by the leadership of NATO, the UN and Western states.

In joint articles published in the New York Times and Foreign Affairs, the Commander-in-Chief of the NATO Joint Armed Forces in Europe, J. R. R. Tolkien, said:Stavridis and the US Permanent Representative to NATO, I. Daalder stated that thanks to this operation, "tens of thousands of lives"were saved2. President of the United States B. Obama described Washington's actions as a "recipe for success" in situations that require intervention to prevent massive human rights violations.3 Speaking at the NATO conference in Berlin on October 27, 2011, NATO Secretary General A. Fogh Rasmussen said that "the will of the international community has been fulfilled, the Alliance has coped with its task"4. And in an interview with Le Journal de Dimanche, he called the operation a "genuine success", explaining that despite more than 22,000 NATO sorties during the seven-month operation, "peaceful Libyans were not injured"5. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also spoke about the absence of civilian casualties as a result of the operation.


The facts show that the implementation of NATO's mandate to ensure the "no-fly zone" regime was accompanied by its large-scale violations.

Under the pretext of "protecting the civilian population", airstrikes were carried out on non-military targets: on July 30, 2011, as a result of one of them, inflicted on a television center in Tripoli, 3 journalists were killed. The aim of the strike was to silence Libyan state television. Another, committed on August 8, 2011, in a locality near the town of Elitien, claimed the lives of 85 civilians, including 33 children.6 According to Amnesty International, the highest number of victims was recorded as a result of the airstrikes on Tripoli on 19 June 2011, the bombing of Elitien on 4 August 2011, the air raid on the village of Majer (near Elitien) on 8 August 2011, and the" incidents " in Sirte on 16 and 25 September 2011.7

In order to circumvent the arms embargo imposed on the Libyan Jamahiriya, weapons were supplied to the country8. Against the background of statements that there would be no "NATO boot" on Libyan soil, the rebels acted on the side of the rebels.

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foreign special forces 9. The Libyan rebels repeatedly violated the "no-fly zone" regime, which the Alliance did not pay attention to.

All these facts have been repeatedly voiced by Russian representatives on various international platforms. The Alliance's broad interpretation of the mandate was noted by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. In August 2011, Russia's Permanent Representative to NATO Dmitry Rogozin sent a letter to the NATO Secretary General stating that Russia cannot accept the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by Western powers against one of the warring parties in the Libyan civil war. 10 The message went unanswered.

Gradually, despite the bias of the Western and some Arab press regarding the assessment of the results of the Alliance's operation,the Western community also had to state the presence of casualties as a result of the NATO bombing.


In December 2011, the New York Times published an investigation into the victims of 7,700 bombs dropped by NATO on Libyan soil. The journalists claimed that the Alliance refused to recognize both the presence of those killed in the airstrikes and to investigate the circumstances of the deaths of civilians. As a result of interviews with survivors, eyewitnesses and doctors, as well as collecting evidence from the most heavily bombed locations, the journalists concluded that hundreds of civilians were killed in the strikes. Among them are at least 29 women and children who were sleeping in their homes when the strike took place.

The article claimed that between 40 and 70 people were killed in the bombing, but these are not "final figures" 11. The Alliance's disregard for these circumstances led to the fact that assistance to the wounded, including foreigners, was not provided on time. The article pointed out that decisions to launch two-thirds of strikes at the beginning of hostilities and almost all bombardments at a later stage of the conflict were made "on the spot", and the military simply did not "get around"to taking into account the factor of possible casualties. Journalists wrote that only the firm position of the international community was able to force NATO to recognize the presence of victims of strikes and express "regret for the loss of life" through the mouth of its official representative O. Lungescu.

F. Abrahams, a representative of the well-known human rights organization Human Rights Watch, explained such a belated realization of his own mistakes by the general atmosphere of impunity and mutual praise of representatives of NATO and the new Libyan authorities, 12 which, by definition, excluded the need to pay attention to the issue of victims. At the same time, according to the article, NATO left the investigation "on the conscience" of the new Libyan authorities, whose arrival was made possible largely due to military operations and bombing. The journalists drew a comparison with Afghanistan, where the Americans began to take a more cautious approach to accounting for possible civilian casualties, and agreed to consider the issue of compensation only after the "noise" that arose due to the death of civilians as a result of the "mistakes" of the military.

Journalists sent an official request to NATO to comment on the facts of strikes that caused human casualties, but did not receive a response.

The topic of civilian casualties as a result of the NATO operation was also reflected in the results of the work created in February 2011. By the UN Human Rights Council of the International Independent Commission of Inquiry on Libya. At the beginning of their work, the experts ignored the violations committed by the Alliance during Operation United Defender, but the commission still included a section on civilian casualties in the second report. This document, citing a representative of the Ministry of Health of Libya, claims that 64 civilians were killed in the bombing. Civilian targets, such as schools, mosques, and universities, were also targeted by airstrikes that were allegedly carried out exclusively on military targets. As a result, 500 people were killed and 2 thousand were injured, 56 schools and 3 universities were destroyed. And the total number of educational institutions closed as a result of airstrikes reached 3,204, as a result of which more than 437 thousand people were left without access to education. On April 4, 2011, 13 people were killed in an airstrike near the town of Marsa al-Brega. On 13 May 2011, another bombing attack in the same city killed at least 16 civilians and wounded 40 others. On May 1, 2011, an airstrike killed Gaddafi's youngest son, S. Al-Arab, along with his wife and three young grandchildren of the Colonel. 13

The issue of victims of NATO airstrikes was also considered by human rights organizations. It is noteworthy that experts describe the data received from NGOs as "trustworthy", while the information provided by the Libyan Government and the Transitional National Council of Libya, in their opinion, does not meet the necessary standards.

In March 2012, Amnesty International published a report entitled "Libya: Forgotten Victims of NATO strikes". The document notes that members of the organization visited a number of areas that were hit by NATO airstrikes, which killed at least 55 people, including 14 women and 16 children ("based on eyewitness accounts, documentary facts and copies of death certificates"). In Marsa al-Brega, Surman and Beni Walid, according to the organization-

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For example, 20 civilians were killed 14. Human rights activists called on NATO to ensure an independent and impartial investigation, as well as to pay compensation to the families of the victims. They also asked the Alliance to comment on the above-mentioned incidents, but received a "reply": NATO "sought to minimize casualties, but it is not possible to reduce them to zero in such complex operations" and expressed regret for the damage that could have been caused during the strikes."15 With reference to the fact that the Russian military had a large number of casualties. NATO no longer has a mandate in Libya, the Alliance did not answer the question of investigating incidents, which, in its opinion, should now be handled by the new Libyan authorities.

The international community, including Western media and human rights organizations, as well as UN bodies, have noted the presence of victims as a result of NATO airstrikes. NATO officials, who initially spoke about the flawlessness of the operation, had to admit that the bombing cost civilians their lives. Despite differing data on the exact number of victims (each of the above-mentioned agencies made their own assessments of travel incidents to Libya, based on their own methodology for clarifying the circumstances), there can be no doubt that at least hundreds of people were killed and injured as a result of exceeding the mandate defined by UN Security Council resolution 1973.

It should be noted that the recognition of this fact by the NATO leadership, as well as the coverage of this topic by the Western press, was largely the result of the tough position of Russia and other states, including BRICS members, on this issue. In New York and Geneva, Russian diplomats in various formats demanded that NATO conduct an appropriate investigation and pay compensation. So, in March 2012 in Geneva, the author of these lines, during a dialogue with the commission of inquiry on Libya at the session of the UN Human Rights Council, noted in her speech that the commission's report ignored a number of incidents related to NATO airstrikes and caused human casualties, and called on the Alliance to investigate and pay compensation. Such statements were clearly not to the liking of both the members of the commission and the states that took an active part in the NATO operation. Nevertheless, it is precisely this approach of Russia and other BRICS countries that has made it possible to draw attention to this issue.


A special case is the failure of NATO warships to provide assistance to refugees from Libya in distress at sea. In April 2012, a 90-page report by experts from Goldsmith's University of London was published, which, based on the testimony of naval radar equipment, as well as refugee survivors, concluded that NATO was directly involved in the death of 63 passengers of a boat (only 9 of 72 people returned alive) heading from Libya to the Italian coast in March 2011. studies claim that the plight of the ship was witnessed not only by the ships of the Italian and Spanish Navies, which were located at a short distance from the boat, but also by the French Navy, as well as the British military helicopter "Westland Lynx". Water and food were dropped from the helicopter to the refugees, but the British Ministry of Defence denied any contact with the boat. The French ship also circled the disaster area and, according to survivors, approached the boat at a distance of 10 m. They saw uniformed men taking pictures of them from the plane. However, no help was provided. The report states that, in total, in the disaster area, located, by the way, within the military zone controlled by NATO at that time, there were 38 ships at a distance of 20 to 38 nautical miles from the boat, which allowed them to come to the aid of those in distress.16 Such actions indicate a violation by the Alliance of international law, in particular, the 1974 Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and the 1979 Convention on Search and Rescue.

This story was developed at the session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg in April 2012. After a report by Tineke Strick, a representative of the PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population, and a debate, resolution 1872 was adopted - "Lives lost in the Mediterranean: who is to blame?"

The document pointed out that in total in 2011, at least one and a half thousand people were killed while trying to escape from conflict-ridden Libya, highlighting the negligent attitude of NATO, which has committed itself to protecting civilians, to the refugee factor. The Alliance, in accordance with the resolution, was ordered to provide PACE with information on the incident requested by it earlier, in particular, for what reasons the helicopter that dropped food to refugees did not return, and the ships that were nearby did not respond to calls for help even after half of the people in the boat died.

The resolution decided that the Alliance should conduct an investigation and, in the future, when planning military operations, take into account the plight of refugees and prevent the recurrence of such incidents.17 The resolution was adopted by a majority vote (108 parliamentarians voted "for", 36 - "against", including representatives of France, Italy, Estonia and Poland).-

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18. Time will tell whether NATO will implement the PACE recommendation.


Such incidents - both with victims of airstrikes and with refugees-could not have been an accident and are a direct consequence of mistakes in the planning of the operation in Libya, and are also explained by the general attitude of the Alliance leadership to "side effects" during military operations in third countries.

In early March 2012, NATO prepared a confidential assessment report on the effectiveness of the operation in Libya.19 His conclusions refute the actively promoted thesis that the" United Defender " can serve as a model for resolving crises in other States. The authors of the report consider numerous mistakes and mistakes in the planning and management of the operation. According to them, the allies did not share information about the targets of the strikes with each other, and those who determined them lacked experience in this kind of work. There was a lack of specialists in planning military operations, primarily in terms of logistics, political and legal advisers. The report claims that without a decisive US contribution, the operation could have failed altogether.20 Despite the fact that the authors of the report do not directly address the issue of civilian victims of airstrikes, it is obvious that such "shortcomings" could not but lead to the bombing of non-military facilities.

It seems that NATO will continue to evade responsibility in the issue of victims resulting from the expanded interpretation of the mandate by the Alliance, trying to" wrap up "the investigation of civilian deaths and" dissolve "the topic in victorious reports about a"new democratic Libya". The arguments are well known: it is almost impossible to carry out any military operation without casualties, there would have been much more casualties if NATO had not intervened, and the number of people killed as a result of strikes is not comparable to the number of victims of the Gaddafi regime.

Compliance with democratic standards, respect for the rights and freedoms of citizens is beyond doubt. However, it is necessary to understand how and at what cost the transition to democratic forms of government will take place. External forceful intervention, open support by external players for one of the parties to an internal conflict can lead to regime change. However, this does not guarantee a transition to democracy.

This is confirmed by the current situation in Libya, where the de facto power of the government does not extend to an impressive part of the country's territory, where cities are under the control of armed groups, and the population refuses to surrender their weapons, where human rights continue to be violated, and migrants, primarily Africans, are subjected to violence, where the new authorities adopt undemocratic laws, and in relation to foreigners, including Russians, unfair court sentences are imposed.

The only way to resolve internal disputes is to encourage the parties to participate in a national dialogue, which should determine the vectors of state development and the direction of reforms. This is exactly the format of settlement in Libya proposed by the African Union, whose peace plan involved negotiations between the authorities and the opposition. The work of the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Libya, A. Khatib, was aimed at encouraging the parties to engage in such a dialogue.

It is precisely on encouraging the parties to engage in interethnic dialogue that Russia insists during the settlement of the crisis in Syria, amid calls for regime change, and, sometimes, for external intervention. The "Libyan lesson", however, well demonstrated the broad interpretation of the UN Security Council resolution, and that the subsequent bombing leads to the death of innocent people and damages the authority of the UN Security Council, as well as the system of international law as a whole.

All this can lead to internal state chaos and even a split of the state with unpredictable consequences for the region. But this is unlikely to help establish democracy.

1 UN Security Council Resolution 1973 (taking all necessary measures to protect the civilian population and their places of residence under threat of attack, as well as to ensure compliance with the flight ban) -

Daalder H., Stavridis James G. 2 NATO's Succes in Libya // New-York Times. October 30, 2011. Daalder H., Stavridis James G. NATO's Victory in Libya: the Right Way to Run an Intervention // Foreign Affairs. March/April 2012, vol. 91, N 2.

3 B.Obama. Interview, 1 November 2011 -

4 "Principles and Power". Speech by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the NATO Review Conference. Berlin, October 27, 2011 -

5 Rasmussen: "Je suis fier de ce que nous, Alliris, avons fait" (interview) // Le Journal de Dimanche. 27 aout, 2011.


7 Libya: the Forgotten Victims of NATO Strikes // Amnesty International. London, 2012 - - 60ff-4783 - 8aa8 - 8c80a4fd0M4/mde190032012en.pdf

8 Sergey Lavrov's speech and answers to media questions at a joint press conference with the UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs A. Al-Nahyan following the first ministerial meeting of the Russia-GCC strategic dialogue. Абу-Даби, 1.11.2011 Document

9 Sergey Lavrov's answers to the questions of Moldovan university students at the Free Independent University of the Republic of Moldova. Кишинев, 22.11.2011 -

10 " NATO uses UN Security Council resolutions as blotters." Interview of Russia's Permanent Representative to NATO Dmitry Rogozin to the Interfax news agency. 23.08.2011 -

11 In Strikes on Libya by NATO, an Unspoken Civilian Toll // New York Times. December 17, 2011.

12 Ibidem.

13 UN document A/HRC / 17 / 44.

14 Libya: the Forgotten Victims of NATO Strikes...

15 Ibidem.

Helle Charles. 16 Report on the "Left-To-Die Boat". Goldsmiths, University of London, 2012.

17 PACE Resolution 1872 (2012). Lives lost in the Mediterranean Sea: Who is responsible?

18 PACE Voting Record - http// - 13736

19 NATO sees flaws in Air Campaign against Qaddafi // New York Times. April 14, 2012.

20 NATO report details crucial shortcomings of air campaign over Libya // International Herald Tribune. April 16, 2012.


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