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There has been an increase in the number of intrastate armed conflicts across the world in the last two decades and this has no doubt generated lots of debates as to whether the international community has a right or an obligation to interfere in the domestic affairs of any state. This has brought into focus the issue of the limits of sovereignty and the justification for external interference in intra-state conflicts. This study focused on the uprising that took place in Libya in 2011. In exploring the perimeters to which sovereignty can be exercised in intrastate armed conflicts, the study also investigated how changing political realities and international
norms enabled external interventions that were previously unthinkable. Therefore, it tends to justify the coalition intervention in Libya on the basis of the international community’s responsibility and stated commitment to protect civilians in any part of the world from mass atrocities. However, the manner of the engagement by the US and NATO led external forces in the fight for regime change in Libya leaves much to be desired. Even- though the intervention
in Libya received the blessing of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), a body so authorized to do so, controversy continues to trail the manner of its implementation. The doctrine of The Responsibility to Protect as propounded by Kofi Annan was used as a framework for analysis of this study.



1.1. Background to the Study
Since the end of the cold war, in territories ranging from northern Iraq to East
Timor, and from Burma to Syria, a succession of urgent situations involving mass death and suffering of citizens has resulted in external military interventions that were justified on largely humanitarian grounds. There have also been situations in Rwanda and Bosnia, in which there was a strong case for such intervention, but either no action followed or any action taken was too little and too late.
With the spate of violence that has pervaded virtually every part and the manner
in which strong states have been able to dominate others, and even militarily overpowering them, and bearing in mind that international law desires and states clearly that sovereign states are to be left to their own devices to manage their own affairs independently, the question of intervention and non-intervention becomes very paramount in the quest for scholars to understand the activities of states. Moreover, when we realize that the sovereignty of states in the international system has been more or less overtaken by global interdependence and the emergence of sophisticated information and technological gadgets, we are bound to wonder why states still answer sovereign and independent entities.
Over the last decade, a lot of worrying things have happened which decided the
actions of responsible governments. Especially of note is the issue of intervening in the internal affairs of independent and sovereign states. Some of the recent examples of total indifference to the plight of people that come to mind readily are the Somalia 1991/92 conflict, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the Bosnia massacre of 1995 and the Kosovo crisis of 1999. The blasé attitude shown by the militarily powerful when these gruesome activities were going on in these four places have provoked a lot of debate on the responsibility of the international community towards the carnages that go on daily in the world generally, and Africa in particular.
It was consequent upon this that the Canadian government in September 2000,
with the approval of the United Nations (UN), formed the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), whose duty was to look into the way interventions must and should be carried out by states in the international system. The ICISS which had its directorate at the Ralph Bunche Institute of the Graduate Center at the City University of New York (CUNY) had 12 persons drawn from various parts of the world. The Commission was co-chaired by Gareth Evans of Australia and Mohamed Sahnoun, an Algerian and a former UN representative. Another African in the Commission was Cyril Ramaphosa, a South African. The Commission finished its research in September 2001 and the Report was published on 18th December 2001 titled “The Responsibility to Protect.” It dealt with the issue of protecting the citizens of a
state, and the right of any external force to intervene in their affairs.
The thrust of the Report was that in the event that a state cannot protect its
citizens from harm, mass murder, mass rape or mass starvation, then the international community has a right to intervene. Again, if the state is unwilling or unable to protect its citizens or is involved in the dehumanization of the populace, the global community has the responsibility to go in and stop it. This responsibility involves some elements though: motive, proportionality and right authority. That is, the motive of the intervening body must be to prevent further harm to the people; the proportion of force to be used must be less or equal, and not more than the force used before the intervention; and the authority that has the right to intervene is the Security Council under the auspices of the UN. If the Security Council, made up of the five permanent members – United States, United Kingdom, France, China and Russia – and others, do not act, it behoves on the General Assembly to act, and when this fails, then the regional
organizations should intervene.
The Report made it clear that military force should be used as a last resort. There
should be room for dialogue to settle the rift or stop the problem. It went further to give operational principles which should be strictly adhered to; these are preventing, reacting and rebuilding.
Preventing involves the international community trying as much as possible to
nip in the bud the problem as it develops. This can be done by taking those guilty or alleged to have committed the crimes to the International Criminal Court. Sanctions short of military force can be imposed on them. Reacting involves the actual intervention of the international community when
all attempts at amicable settlement have collapsed. It is at this point that military force can be employed after diplomatic and judicial/legal means have proved abortive.
However, the military force must be proportional to the problems at hand.
Rebuilding involves reconstruction of the place after the conflict. It is also the
responsibility of the international community to rebuild the place and make sure that they enjoy a new lease of life.
The Commission which evolved as a result of the challenge of the then UN
Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, had gone a long way in laying down the general
principles needed to forestall and manage conflicts in the international system, as well as ensuring the safety of citizens in regimes that are either failed or are failing.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
The Responsibility to Protect, known as R2P, is the product of years of
diplomatic wrangling over whether and how the international community should
intervene in a sovereign state for the sake of its civilians. The debate traces back to the end of the Cold War, which ushered in an era in which diplomats and activists were hopeful about the prospects for international action to stop the massacres and civil wars then erupting across much of the developing world. But those hopes dimmed after a botched intervention in Somalia in 1992 and 1993, the failure to stop the Rwandan genocide in 1994, the massacre of thousands of civilians supposedly under U.N. protection in Bosnia in 1995, and a NATO air campaign in Kosovo in 1999 – undertaken without Security Council approval by a “coalition of the willing” (Wheeler, 2012).
Faced with diplomatic discord about the mixed legacy of interventions, UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan publicly challenged the United Nations to come to a
consensus about how to respond to similar challenges in the future. After years of
debate, the U.N. General Assembly came to an agreement in 2005, creating a plan that clearly stated the responsibility of all nations to protect their own citizens from mass atrocities, the gravest category of abuses, which includes genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing. In the event a state fails to meet that obligation, R2P says, other countries must be prepared to act on civilians’ behalf. Not just a military doctrine, R2P encompasses a wider range of diplomatic measures, and has been cited in non-military interventions in Guinea, Sudan, Kenya, and elsewhere.
But until Libya, R2P remained something of a diplomatic abstraction. The
logistics of intervening in Libya were relatively simple: Gaddafi was politically isolated, and the NATO action had the support of the Arab League and neighboring states. Plus, the rebel shadow government represented a coherent, nonsectarian alternative to Gaddafi’s regime, and rebel-held Benghazi provided a geographical foothold that could be sealed off and defended by NATO air power without the need for large numbers of foreign troops on the ground.
All these situations involved the UN in numerous and complex ways: the UN
was at the centre of an unprecedented number of field operations and policy debates relating to humanitarian intervention (Roberts, 2004). Those opposing UN intervention in domestic affairs of any state draw strength from Article 2(7) of UN Charter which states: “Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter…” The UN Charter restricts the right to use force on the part of individual states for purposes of self-defence, and it was widely accepted during the cold war that the use of force to save victims of gross human rights abuses was a violation of the Charter.
However, the Security Council is empowered under the Chapter VII provisions of the Charter to authorize the use of force to maintain ‘international peace and security’, but there is considerable controversy about how far this permits the Council to authorize intervention to stop humanitarian emergencies taking place inside state borders (Wheeler, 2002).
The uprising which started in Benghazi on 15 February 2011 triggered numerous
anti-regime protests throughout Libya in the days that followed, reflecting the chaos in the Arab world. The escalating unrest represented an unprecedented challenge to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s 41-year reign, and he responded by ordering Libyan security forces to move against protesters in a punitive and violent crackdown. The crackdown resulted in strong condemnation by the international community. In a historic move, the UN Security Council invoked the principle of “the responsibility to protect” and adopted Resolutions 1970 and 1973, endorsing a “no-fly zone” over Libya and authorizing member states to “take all necessary measures” to protect civilians under attack from Gaddafi’s government. As a result, some Western countries, including the United States, began air strikes over Libya, which spurred a debate on whether forced intervention was warranted. Countries like Russia, China, Brazil, and India abstained from voting on the UN resolution, spotlighting the sensitive nature of the issue. Some states in Asia and Africa, especially former colonies, have long seen intervention of any kind as a threat to their sovereignty (Bajoria, 2011).
As Libyans now begin a new chapter in building a legitimate government of their
own, there are debates about whether the intervention in Libya was ever justified.
Although Libyans took ownership of their revolution from the beginning, these efforts would have been fruitless were it not for the internationally-backed coalition intervention. Indeed, the use of military force to protect civilians is extremely delicate process and highly contentious. While many agree that the relatively recent international recognition of humanitarian norms has positively contributed to the reduction of mass atrocities, military force justly remains a last resort option in the scope of foreign policy tools (Ramoin, 2012).
However, it must be noted that there were few characteristics laid down by the
Responsibility to Protect Report on the conditions for any pre-emptive or preventive actions on any sovereign state in managing conflicts. They are:
(i). the military intervention must be for a just cause; that is, the motive of the
intervening body must be to prevent further harm to the people,
(ii). the intervention should be authorized by the United Nations; that is, it is only the UN Security Council that has the authority to intervene or cause the intervention to take place,
(iii). the intervention should be carried out with the right intentions through
multilateral means, (iv). the intervention must be conducted by proportional means; that is, the use of force must be less or equal, and not more than the force used before the intervention.
Given the above, this study uses the following research questions as guide to
interrogate the issue of the responsibility to protect doctrine as used in the case of Libya:
1. Were there factor(s) that necessitated a multilateral intervention in Libya as
authorized by the United Nations?
2. Was the motive for the intervention in Libya basically to forestall gross human
rights abuses and crimes against humanity, or regime change?
3. Was proportional force used in the intervention by multilateral forces in Libya?
1.3 Research Question
The research question of the study is as follow:
1. What are the proportional force was used in the intervention by multilateral forces in Libya?
2. What is the motive for the intervention was basically to forestall
gross human rights abuses and crimes against humanity;
3. What is the circumstances in Libya warranted a multilateral intervention authorized by the United Nations?
1.4. Objectives of the Study
This study envisages achieving both broad and specific objectives. The broad
objective of this study was to critically review the propriety of the employment of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine in managing the Libyan crisis of 2011. The specific objectives of the study are to:
1. Ascertain whether the circumstances in Libya warranted a multilateral intervention authorized by the United Nations;
2. Discover whether the motive for the intervention was basically to forestall
gross human rights abuses and crimes against humanity;
3. Find out whether proportional force was used in the intervention by multilateral forces in Libya.
1.5. Significance of the Study
This study has both theoretical and practical significance. At the theoretical
level, it offers a new insight into the underlying basis for the intervention in Libya by the international community. The United Nations system is characterized by so many responsibilities to member states. These responsibilities are such that the UN owes it as a duty to ensure that no citizens of any state suffer from tyrannical leadership, and that when necessary, it intervenes to ensure that such is stopped. This study therefore evolves ideas which would resolve the seeming misunderstanding about the activities of the United Nations and other allies in the intervention in crises in Africa.
At the practical level, this study is significant as its evaluation of the entire
intervention process with particular reference to the attack on the regime leadership of Gaddafi provides the necessary clues to scholars and policy makers about its true nature and the true utilitarian value of the responsibility to protect doctrine. It also buttresses the argument that contemporary methods of conflict resolution must bear in mind the effects the activities of brutal leadership have on their citizens.
This study further has the potentiality of serving as a secondary source of data to
future researchers on related subject.
1.6. Research Methodology
1.6.1 Method of Data Collection
The qualitative method is the method used in the data collection for this study.
Methods are techniques and approaches employed to gather data which are used as
criteria for inference, interpretation, explanation and prediction (Cohen & Manion,
1980:26). On the other hand, data are the information, evidence or facts from which conclusion can be drawn. According to McNabb (2005:341), the qualitative research method is a set of non-statistical inquiry techniques and processes used to gather data about social phenomena. Thus, qualitative data refers to some collection of words, symbols, pictures, or other non-numerical records, materials or artefacts that are collected by a researcher and is data that has relevance to the social group under study.
The uses for these data go beyond simple description of events and phenomena; rather, they are used for creating understanding, for subjective interpretation, and for critical analysis as well. According to Wikipedia (2012), qualitative research is a method of inquiry employed in many different academic disciplines, traditionally in the social sciences.
Qualitative method is a non-numerical data collection. The method aims to gather an indepth understanding of human behaviour and the reasons that govern such behaviour.
The qualitative method investigates the why and how of decision-making, not just what, where, when. Hence, smaller but focused samples are more often needed, rather than large samples. The qualitative method produces information only on the particular cases studied, and any more general conclusions are only hypotheses. There are certain attributes to it this method:
First, in qualitative research, cases can be selected purposefully, according to
whether or not they typify certain characteristics or contextual locations. Second, the researcher’s role receives greater critical attention. This is because in qualitative research the possibility of the researcher taking a ‘neutral’ or transcendental position is seen as more problematic in practical and/or philosophical terms. Hence, qualitative research reflects on the role of the researcher in the research process and makes this
clear in the analysis. Third, qualitative data analysis can take a wide variety of forms, and approaches analysis holistically and contextually, rather than being reductionistic and isolationist. Nevertheless, systematic and transparent approaches to analysis are almost always regarded as essential for rigour.
Burnham et al (2005:31) sees the qualitative method as “very attractive in that it
involves collecting information in depth but form a relatively small number of cases”.
He goes on to state that “analytic induction is often used by qualitative researchers in their efforts to generalize about social behaviour. Concepts are developed intuitively from the data, and are then defined, refined and their implications deduced from the data” (Burnham et al, 2005:41).
As noted by Nachmais & Nachmias (1981), all social research begins and ends
with observation. Observation, according to Kaplan (1963), is purposive perception abstraction of facts from their more colligated phenomenal world to provide data for scientific investigation. Observation is controlled investigation; a deliberate search carried out with care which is informed by theory guided systematic organization.
Observation is therefore “purposefully planned and systematically executed act of
watching the occurrence of events, activities and behaviours which constitute the focus of study” (Obasi, 1999:169).
Through observation of speeches and interviews made by members of the
dramatis personae in the Libyan conflict, we would identify what their motives were, the strategies adopted, and the eventual outcome amidst alternative outcomes. Therefore, the relevance of the observation method to social inquiry, including in our study, is further highlighted by the argument of Babbie (1983:178) that “deliberate and sustained personal observation is an indispensable part of the study of any social institution from which the investigator classifies his ideas, revises his personal classifications and tests his tentative hypotheses”. Riley (1963) holds that even though disposition to act politically and socially may be best accessed by questionnaire, observational methods are required to assess the “acting out” of these dispositions. More so, the relationship between a person and his or her environment is often best maintained in observational
Thus in carrying out this study, data shall be gathered from books, journals,
official documents, fact finding reports, newspapers and magazines, internet sources and news reports from various international media such as CNN, BBC and Aljazzera, including their web sites. Again the timeline and trends of the crisis shall also be followed from the news reports emanating from such media. Reports of fact finding missions to Libya during and immediately after the crisis, like the Centre Internationale de Recherches et d’Etudes sur Le Terrorism (CIRET) and I’ Aide aux Victimes du Terrorism (AVT), Independent Civil Society Fact Finding Mission to Libya (ICSFFML), International Crisis Group (ICG), fact finding mission and official documents of the United Nations Security Council, Human Rights Council of the United Nations etc, would be majorly relied on for this study.
Obasi (1999) identified two forms of observation methods – the participant and
the spectator – which aid a variety or research purposes. In this research, we are
restricted to the spectator type. This form of observation is relevant here because it
affords the research the opportunity to observe the ongoing activities to correctly
interpret the situation better than those who are taking part. It is also pertinent to a study such as the Libyan conflict since the researcher cannot participate in such violent outburst in the pretence of studying a social phenomenon. Observation also helps the researcher to evaluate verbal, non-verbal, extra-linguistic and linguistic phenomena in order to compare them with actual behaviours. Thus, for our purpose of US/NATO management of the conflict, observation method is pertinent to aid our sources of primary and secondary data.
1.6.2 Method of Data Analysis
In view of the nature of this study, we shall utilize qualitative content analysis. In
doing this we shall sieve and analyse the mass of relevant data found in official
documents, fact finding reports, newspapers, magazines, books and journals used in this study. According to Hsieh & Shannon (2005:1278) in Zhang & Wildemuth (nd.) qualitative content analysis is defined as “a research method for the subjective interpretation of the content of text data through the systematic classification process of coding and identifying themes or Patterns”. Patton (2002:453) in Zhang & Wildemuth (nd.) also defines it as “any qualitative data reduction and sense making effort that takes a volume of qualitative material and attempts to identify core consistencies. Qualitative
content analysis therefore, emphasizes an integrated view of speech/texts and their
specific contexts. It goes beyond the classical content analysis method of merely
counting words or extracting objective content from text (Zhang and Wildemuth n.d.).
Bryman (2004) in Kohlbacher 2006) posits that qualitative content analysis is “probably the most prevalent approach to the qualitative analysis of documents”, it comprises a search-out of underlying themes in the materials being analyzed. Adopting this method, the main themes in the various texts that address central thesis of our propositions would be sieved out.
According to Burnham et al (2004) and McNabb (2005), data analysis refers to
the use of relevant techniques, tools, strategies and procedures for exploiting
relationships among key variables gathered in the course of research. This implies that data collection naturally leads up to data analysis such that in the course of the analysis the collected data is broken and given appropriate treatment so as to read meaning out of the data that has been generated, presented, tested and interpreted. Obasi (1999:178), has emphasized that the need for clarity in the presentation of data can only be fully appreciated when one recognizes that a properly generated data which is free from the common problems of unreliability and inaccuracy, can still not serve a useful purpose if not properly analyzed and presented. In other words, analysis “is the breaking down and ordering of the quantitative information gathered through research” (Asika, 1991:11).
The purpose of analysis therefore is to understand and explain how the
constitutive elements of a complex whole are related in order to gain a better knowledge of the unit or subject being studied. In this wise, the data used in this study would be analyzed qualitatively and critically, in order to arrive at a valid argument and make valuable deductions. Data would be presented in tables and graphs, and analyzed using appropriate analytical tools.
1.6.3. Research Design
A research design in any research work, is a plan that guides the investigator in
the process of collecting, analyzing and interpreting observations. It is a logical model of proof that allows the researcher to draw inferences concerning causal relations among the variables under investigation. It also defines the domain of generalizability, that is, whether obtained interpretations can be generalized to a larger population or to different situations (Leege & Francis, 1974; Bailey, 1978; Nnabugwu, 2006).
This research is basically qualitative and non-experimental, and is therefore
based on the single case ex post facto design. An ex post facto design is used when
experimental research is not possible, such as when people have self-selected levels of an independent variable or when a treatment is naturally occurring and the researcher could not ‘control’ the degree of its use. The researcher starts by specifying a dependent variable and then tries to identify possible reasons for its occurrence. This type of study is very useful when using human subjects in real-world situations and the investigator comes in ‘after the fact’. That is why the researcher needs to establish a plausible reason (research hypothesis) for why there might be a relationship between two variables before conducting a study (Diem, 2002).
Cohen and Manion (1980) define the ex post facto design as those studies which
investigate possible cause-and-effect relationships by observing an existing condition and searching back in time for plausible causal factors. According to Kerlinger (1977), the ex post facto design is a form of descriptive research in which an independent variable has already occurred and in which an investigator starts with the observation of a dependent variable; he then studies the independent variable in retrospect for its possible relationship to and effects on the dependent variable.
This research design is very relevant to our study given the nature of the
phenomenon under investigation. As noted above, this design is useful when using
human subjects in real-world situations and when a treatment is naturally occurring and the researcher could not “control” the degree of its use. In the context of this study, the concern is on the conflict that raged in Libya in 2011. The conflict involved human subjects behaving in a particular way in a real-world situation. Both the causes, the outbreak of conflict, the intervention by the US and NATO forces, as well as the AU response to it are naturally occurring events that the researcher cannot control, which makes the single case ex post facto design more apt in this study. The single case ex post facto design assumes the form of a quasi-experimental design where an existing case is observed for some time in order to ‘study’ or ‘evaluate’ it. Thus, in the single-case design, there is no control or variation group in this design. There are series of “before’
observations and one case (subject) and series of “after” observations.
1.7. Hypotheses
The hypotheses postulated for this study are:
1. There were factors that necessitated a multilateral intervention in Libya as
authorized by the United Nations.
2. The motive for the Libyan intervention were basically to effect regime
change, and advance the strategic and economic interests of the West.
3. Proportional force was not employed in the intervention by multilateral
forces in Libya.

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