An Assessment of the Motivations for the 2011 Nato Intervention in Libya and Its Implications for Africa

Stanley C. Igwe, Mohamad Ainuddin Iskandar Lee Abdullah, Sherko Kirmanj, Kamilu S. Fage, Ismail Bello


This paper bears out of a documentary assessment of the prime motivations for the speedy enforcement of United Nations’ Resolution 1973 and consequent enforcement of the “responsibility to protect” (R2P) norm on Libya. The study discovers that the intervention was not driven by humanitarian concerns, but was impelled by the national interests, geo-strategic considerations of the intervening nations especially the United States and France. Hence, the intervention though seemingly genuine was a vindictive attempt at regime change especially in the light of its selective character as some other actors guilty of grave human rights abuses of which the Qathafi regime was accused were selectively left out. The study further highlights the flagrant abuse of the Resolution 1973 in the marginalisation of the humanitarian component of the mission, as well as the prolongation of the assault within which infantry and massive armed support were offered to the rebels all of which veritably impacts on the future application of the R2P norm. The study thus submits that realist “self-help” factors were of primary significance in the intervention and recommends that military units belonging to hegemonic powers; in particular, the United States, France and Britain must not be allowed to participate in future interventions in the light of the chaotic aftermath of previous interventions as evident in Iraq and Libya to mention but two. 


R2P; humanitarian intervention; realism; Libya

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