Libya: UN Security Council Responsibility to Protect (RtoP or R2P): What Glenn Greenwald, Dennis Kucinich, et al., Aren't Up On

So, I've done two recent posts (Response to: "Obama on presidential war-making powers - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com" and On a US-Constitutional Declaration of War & UN Security Council Resolution 1973, Libyan No-Fly Zone) concerning the UN Security Council Libya No-Fly Zone Resolution. I then went and dug deeper to get the most relevant international law on the subject of why it's legal. My previous post dealt with why the Security Council Resolution 1973 (2011) is constitutional under the US Constitution despite there not being a US Congressional Declaration of War just for this Libyan action. Now let me get into the new law and how this is the first real application of it, setting a new and better precedent, provided the UN is consistent in its application, meaning that it is used to protect peaceful demonstrators everywhere — exactly what the likes of Russia and China and others would fear (including the US under certain circumstances). Consistency is a bitch unless you love it.

Resolution adopted by the General Assembly
[without reference to a Main Committee (A/60/L.1)]
60/1. 2005 World Summit Outcome
The General Assembly
Adopts the following 2005 World Summit Outcome:
2005 World Summit Outcome
[...]
Responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity

138. Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means. We accept that responsibility and will act in accordance with it. The international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability.

139. The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. We stress the need for the General Assembly to continue consideration of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter and international law. We also intend to commit ourselves, as necessary and appropriate, to helping States build capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and to assisting those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out.

Security Council
Resolution 1674 (2006)
Adopted by the Security Council at its 5430th meeting,
on 28 April 2006
[...]
4. Reaffirms the provisions of paragraphs 138 and 139 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document regarding the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity;

So, there you have it. The Security Council obligated itself to do what it is doing in Libya. Of course, even without those resolutions, the Security Council actions would be consistent with the spirit and letter of the UN purpose, which is always the measure of the legality of any actions taken under the UN Charter.

This is the first time to my understanding that this has been applied. You will note that the Security Council was careful to repeat that Qaddaffi's actions may constitute crimes against humanity. I don't know why they didn't have a finding that his actions clearly have constituted crimes against humanity, but they tread rather indecisively in such matters for the sake of votes by those nations that would otherwise fear that the new application could be turned around against them, as it should of course. We need to get the hypocrisy out of all law.

Getting the hypocrisy out of all law would be the greatest achievement of human kind to date and I dare say forevermore. Therefore, the other nations that are attacking and injuring and murdering and torturing and false imprisoning, etc., the citizenry must be held to the same account to which Qaddaffi is now being held. It matters not that Qaddaffi's actions were larger or swifter and that the other brutal dictators who do not have the consent of the governed were more measured for fear of bringing down the wrath that now faces Qaddaffi and his foolish, albeit probably often captive, "supporters."

I call upon Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power to turn their attention simultaneously toward Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and every other nation-state that is engaging in the brutal suppression of human rights that are to be protected under the international law. It is a waste not to understand that now is the time to stand up. All the Arab states, and others. are being moved by the common people, Arabs and otherwise, to move to multi-party democracy. This is a development in the right direction. It is not the end-all-be-all, but we must make more progress and stop wasting time in a failing attempt to placate reactionaries.

Saudi Arabia may well be the worst offender since it is perhaps the last absolute monarchy on the face of the Earth. It has seemed to me that if the people of Arabia could get themselves out from under the stifling monarchy, they could do a great deal in close cooperation with their Arab neighbors (free and open democratic societies) in, among other things, transitioning soon from the killer oil-economy.

Why in the world are the Arabs of Saudi Arabia allowing themselves to be treated as infants? Why aren't they making collective, democratic decisions concerning the remaining oil resources, etc.? Why are they allowing one man, who has no more right to make the decisions than does anyone else, to make all the decisions thereby holding back the people?

Why is the US treating this monarch with kid gloves? Let him grow up. He's an old man now. It's time. Let him go out of this world with some real truth under his belt rather than his delusional idea that he is special by reason of his coerciveness and willingness to crack down on all would-be democrats, etc.

There is no justification for Obama, Clinton, Rice, and Power claiming that killing dozens of peacefully assembled protesters with legitimate grievances is somehow not a crime against humanity. It's time we see the deliberate murder of anyone who is peacefully protesting and with legitimate grievances as a crime against humanity because it is.

It's time that the nations of the world start being consistent. If local policing to keep the peace is proper, barring the rise of police states, then it is proper that policing be done on a macro level as well. This is not to suggest that all individual choice should be done away with.

In peaceful democracies, people have a great deal of autonomy or choice. They simply balance their behavior against the proper needs and wants of others. Thoughtfulness and considerateness are best.

The recent behavior of the Japanese in the face of their huge catastrophe is a case in point. They wisely understand that unbridled selfishness will serve no good end in their situation. I'm sure they don't consider themselves perfected in such things, but they are showing the better side of their cultural upbringing.

We should all take the best of the best and make it the new normal globally rather than insisting that pockets cling to backwardness simply because someone who is now rich will have to change — such as the oil-rich, for the sake of the whole, having to find a different income stream. We can help each other find different streams. We don't need to leave anyone behind if everyone is willing to be brought forward. Be willing.

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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