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Question/Comment
28 June:   The Security Council can refer a case to the ICC prosecutor even where the state concerned is not a signatory to the Statute.   Tess 
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28 June:   If Aspals is right and the Security Council can refer any state to the ICC, then I agree that there is no point in signing a specific treaty that says you will you will. Whether you sign or not you are going to end up before the court if you commit war crimes.  Baz
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The referral has to be under Chapter VII of the Charter, which was the case in respect of the referral of Libya. I also agree with Scipio that the position of the US is unique. However, there is a rumour that they will sign the Rome Statute at some point soon (can't remember where I heard that, though).
To answer my own question, or part of it, the provisions of Article 11(2) of the Statute are to prevent a state from restrospectively referring crimes occurring prior to becoming a signatory. Jake's point is still an interesting one and I wonder if it will be argued at any trial of Colonel Gaddafi and/or his co-accused.       Aspals
27 June:   Replying to Aspals interesting response to Jake, it is a complete cheek that the Americans, who stuck two fingers up tot the ICC and vowed that their soldiers would never be tried by a foreign court, sat on the Security Council when it voted in a measure against Libya that they would not entertain against themselves. Even though we're breaking the rules by the way we side with the rebels and are not so much protecting civilians any more but openly fighting the rebel cause by giving them air cover and destroying Gaddafi's forces fighting against them, bringing him to trial may be poetic justice for Gaddafi, after the Lockerbie bombing and the killing of Yvonne Fletcher.   Scipio 
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27 June:   Can anyone help with these questions that occur to me. Although the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Gaddafi, I believe Libya is not a party to the Rome Statute so how do they bring him to justice? Second, if Gaddafi is replaced by a new rebel led regime that signs the statute, will that be ok to bring him to the court then?   Jake 
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Jake, they are very good questions, if I may say so. You are right that Libya is not a party to the Statute. Jurisdiction over Colonel Gaddafi will no doubt be hotly contested if or when he is brought to stand trial in the Hague. To start with, the court can only exercise jurisdiction over parties to the treaty and only in respect of the crimes set out in article 5, namely, genocide; crimes against humanity, War crimes and crimes of aggression (these latter offences remain unresolved).
Article 11 (Jurisdiction ratione temporis) makes it clear that "The Court has jurisdiction only with respect to crimes committed after the entry into force of this Statute." It goes on to state, "If a State becomes a Party to this Statute after its entry into force, the Court may exercise its jurisdiction only with respect to crimes committed after the entry into force of this Statute for that State, unless that State has made a declaration under article 12, paragraph 3" (this relates to the acceptance by the court of jurisdiction for the trial of a particular crime - any new Libyan regime might seek to employ this provision. However, it could be argued that in such circumstances it was a new state, the old one having ceased to exist and therefore jurisdiction arguments become even more complex in relation to crimes committed prior to the existence of the State). Consequently, on this basis, Colonel Gaddafi would in my view have an arguable case as to the jurisdiction.
However, things start to get a little more difficult when one goes on to consider Exercise of jurisdiction under article 13(b), where one of the specified crimes "appears to have been committed [and] is referred to the Prosecutor by the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations." You will recall that in UNSRC 1970, the SC referred the matter to the ICC prosecutor at the end of February this year. I wonder whether the referral to the ICC by the Security Council under UNSCR 1970 would have occurred if the accused was a US citizen (the USA is not a member of the ICC either).
All the same, if Colonel Gaddafi is handed over to the ICC, I think that jurisdictional arguments will take up much time at the start of any trial, although I do not think they will succeed with the court. It will certainly be interesting to see how the apparent conflict between article 11 and article 13 is resolved. It seems to me that article 13 is dependent upon the state owning the accused being a party to the Treaty at the time the crime(s) is committed, before any jurisdiction can be exercised by the prosecutor or the UN. Otherwise what would be the point of having states sign up to the treaty, as it would be binding on everyone the UN said (through the office of the prosecutor) should be prosecuted. For his part, the ICC Prosecutor is of the view (no doubt supported by the UNSCR) that in the absence of a referral by the State, "the United Nations Security Council can decide to refer the situation to the Court".
As the old Chinese saying goes, we live in interesting times. I would certainly be interested in the views of others on this point.       Aspals
27 June:   The announcement just made that the ICC has issued arrest warrants for Gaddafi and his son but hasn't said anything about Nato and its behaviour does tend to show that it is a political rather than legal process. I haven't seen any mention of the admission by Nato that it is their policy to try and kill Colonel Gaddafi which is so obviously illegal. It amounts to the criminal offence of conspiracy to commit murder.   Tess 
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27 June:  Now that a Nato commander has officially confirmed that Nato is trying to kill Gaddafi, the ICC should look at war crimes charges against Nato military and political leaders. This is not authorised by the mandate. Liam Fox denied these stories but any criminal accused of a crime usually denies the allegation. Do we believe him just because he says so or should the facts speak for themselves.   Thinners
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25 June:   If Amnesty casts doubt over claims of genocide, I wonder what evidence the ICC have on which to base any prosecution of Gaddafi. It is a bit of a worry the ICC, like the ICTY, may turn out to be a political/ideological court rather than a court of law.   Tess 
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24 June:   For those of you who have been kind enough to read my posts on this website you will know that I have been a great sceptic of the war against Libya. I won't repeat my concerns, as they are set out on this site. Today, the Independent reports that both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have questioned the claim that Colonel Gaddafi ordered rape as a weapon of war, used foreign mercenaries or employed helicopters against civilian protesters. Moreover, Amnesty International's report failed to find evidence for these human rights violations and in many cases discredited or cast doubt on them. It also found indications that on several occasions the rebels in Benghazi appeared to have knowingly made false claims or manufactured evidence. Some little while ago I cautioned that unverified alarmist statements by the rebels about levels of casualties cast a question mark over the veracity and reliability of other statements they have made. It seems that Amnesty has confirmed that caution was a wise course to take and that the mendacity employed by the rebels to cajole an eager NATO to bomb and kill Gaddafi supporters was a callous and cynical attempt to put other men, about whom we knew very little, in power.
So, not only has the coalition and NATO stretched the mandate beyond breaking point, but they have also either been hoodwinked by the lies of the rebels uttering the emotive word "genocide", or they have known the truth all along and have willingly acquiesced in those lies as a means of settling old scores and have closed their ears to any offer to discuss a ceasefire (which, as I have often said, is required in the UNSCR 1973), although there is a report that the rebels have had some contact wih the regime in an attempt to persuade Gaddafi to stand down. This is sensible, as NATO bombing will not resolve this crisis.
We appear to have learned nothing from the manipulation of the facts which was so evident in the justification for intervention in Kosovo. This latest bombshell by Amnesty seriously undermines the credibility of the UN's initiative to redefine sovereignty to justify intervention in internal matters of member states under the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) concept. So-called humanitarian intervention is destined to remain a controversial matter for some time to come, as the ineptitude of the attempts to employ it through knee-jerk politics have shown its obvious vulnerability.
Now that the truth is finally out about the rebel mendacity, NATO should be less trusting of them and look to bring about an early peaceful settlement. On the evidence so far, one might say that the rebels are just as bad as the man they seek to depose. I know, it begs the question why we got involved in the first place.   Anthony
Aspals Consultancy
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23 June:   It is a relief to hear that Briony's has some doubts about what NATO is doing. While our focus is on destroying that small country, we've taken our eye of a real trouble spot in Syria. Things are really hotting up there and there was a stand off today with the Turks and Syrians that is a real threat to international peace and security. See this link (Daily Telegraph)  Will
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23 June:   Recent civilian casualties in Libya do seriously call into question NATO's strategy and its relationship with the UN mandate. We seem to have gone far beyond a no fly zone and protecting civilians, to the point that we are destroying as much of Libya as we can. There will be nothing left of the place by the time NATO finishes its campaign in September. That Mr Cameron and Mr Sarkhozy brushed aside the views of the Italians and the head of the Arab League that it is time for peace make me wonder if the UN security council will ever pass another resolution authorising all necessary measures against a tiny country engaged in civil disturbances.  Pegasus
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23 June:   Of course I think it is terrible that innocent people should be killed, especially children, and I take the point about intellegence assessments should have been aware of the occupancy of the house. It is hard to defend the deliberate targeting of civilian buildings still occupied by civilians and put to military use unless the advantage is overwhelming. An attack on it will cause civilian deaths. From what we know I agree there wasn't an overwhelming advantage in bombing that house. It was a place where one of Gaddafi's generals lived. But I do support the coalition mission and hope that it will reduce the deaths of more civilians. Maybe there is some scope for negotiation as others have said.   Briony
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23 June:   Has the recent killings of civilians by nato made a difference to Briony's views I wonder? Attacking a house in Triploi which is miles from Misrata, even if the intel shows it is a C2 centre is a marginal military objective when if the intel is as good as they say it is will identify kids living there. This was nato moving more into its desperate and murdering assasination fase. Can't see much relavance to the fighting going on against rebels in Misrata.  Baz
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22 June:  To follow up Will's message, the Italians are now upset with Nato's campaign but the Cleggeron is true to form dismissing the UN resolution and now dismissing the views of an influential arab leader and a NATO ally and refusing to sue for peace. He's worse than Brown.   Thinners
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The UNSCR 1973 actually "demands" the immediate establishment of a ceasefire. That was back in March. It tells us a lot about the intent of the "allies" that nothing has happened.        Aspals
22 June:   To follow up what I said the other day about Briony's message, today's papers report that the Arab League is not best pleased with the Nato bombings in Libya and think its time to stop. David Cameron will ignore that in the same way he ignores his service chiefs' concerns. Good old Dave doesn't give a toss about what anybody thinks when it comes to the military which is the one area he knows absolutely nothing about but where he is a self proclaimed expert.   Will
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22 June:   cameron understands servicemen to mean house servants.    pete  
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21 June:   Anthony. Havent you realised that Cameron doesn't like our servicemen very much.   Baz
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21 June:   The latest spat between the RAF and the government once more shows that politicians are fiddling while everyone tells them Rome is burning. To say, as Mr Cameron does, that "military leaders were "absolutely clear" the mission could be kept going for as long as necessary" is utter nonsense, when the heads of the air force and navy are saying the complete opposite. To say, as he does, that morale is good, when the services say the opposite, is more nonsense. What is he playing at? It is reminiscent of Gordon Brown's catastrophic premiership when the only reliable assessment of the truth was to interpret every statement in the opposite manner. In the end, Gordon Brown was a caricature. Mr Cameron is headed that way if he continues to deny the truth. The evidence is so stacked up against him on this debate, that no one seriously believes his views of our military capabilities and the morale of the forces.
He must also stop acting so arrogantly. Saying "There are moments when I wake up and read the newspapers and think: 'I tell you what, you do the fighting and I'll do the talking'" is not helpful, to say the least. He is not a military man. So he does not, with respect, know what he is talking about. His heads of Service, on the other hand, are military men and do know what they are talking about. So, he is the one who should perhaps do less talking and more listening.
He has reversed just about every other policy, but the one policy on which he refuses to budge is that of defence cuts, even though he has increased the commitments of our forces. Who on earth would dream of introducing swingeing defence cuts at a time when UK forces are fighting two wars?
So, he will forgive us if we refuse to accept his views on the health of the Services and their capabilities. He should start to listen to what he is being told and stop assuming he knows best. As Prime Minister, it is his duty to ensure that the armed forces he sends out in furtherance of his government's policies are properly equipped and manned. Pretending they are is not good enough. It demeans him, it demeans the nation and it betrays our servicemen, who deserve better.   Anthony
Aspals Consultancy
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19 June:   When Aspals refers to the military prosecutors as being "more independent" I think it proves one of my points which is that you are either independent or you are not. There is no half way house. The concession that funding is a concern is another point undermining so called independence. I would add that if the system was so good, why were concerns expressed by Lord Goldsmith about chain of command interference and why is there thought being given now to handing over the prosecution function to the CPS? The change will be a positive step for justice which must be seen to be done.   Tess 
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SPA stands outside the three chains of command and makes its decisions based on the evidence and the public interest, not the wishes of the chain of command. The case you refer to was moved away from the military justice system to protect public confidence, not for any other reason. The then APA was more than capable of making the appropriate decisions on the case but, because of the serious concerns about the actions of the chain of command, it was thought better to pass the matter to the CPS. That underlined the independence of the prosecutors, and served the interests of justice.        Aspals
19 June:   In reply to Goldie. The military system is an anachronism. It is headed to civilianisation anyway and already has a civilian head which I presume is to pave the transition. If it was to be a military organisation it would have a military prosecutor as leader. The fact it isn't is just an indicator that change will come. Military juries do not instill public confidence that the trial will be fair to either the defendant or from the victim's perspective. The three services are joined up in the new prosecution service and can prosecute each other's cases. Why can't the CPS do that just as well. Their prosecutors are career prosecutors and not people playing at prosecuting who go off and do something else after a year or two. They lack any real experience. It is all too cosy. soldiers being tried by military juries for major crime and in front of judges who are not as experienced as those in the Crown court. No justice for victims there. Crown court juries are just as able at deciding the facts as military juries. Let the serious cases go to the civilian prosecutors and courts and the military can deal with the discipline only cases eg disobeying orders, leaving without permission and so on.   Tess 
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I think you've attacked just about every aspect of the military justice system, Tess, but not really addressed the fact that the Court Martial Appeal Court, which could criticise the fairness of a trial and, indeed, any bias in the system, has failed to do this since the Findlay changes brought about by the 1996 Armed Forces Act. As for the prosecutors, if anything, the AFA 2006 has made the SPA more independent, through its control of prosecutions, although there are still concerns admittedly over its reliance on funding from the chain of command. But the system has not been challenged in court - either at home or in Europe, in the last few years.        Aspals
19 June:   Well said Will. There is no need for airplanes to continue patrolling the Libyan skies. No Libyan aircraft has flown. So the UN objective was met ages ago, right at the outset of the campaign. As for bombing of Tripoli, it is obvious that Nato is not so much protecting rebel civilians (and killing loyalist civilians) as softening up the place ready for a rebel attack. There wont be much left to bomb at this rate, with 11,000 missions flown. Nato will have single handedly destroyed the infrastructure of this tiny country in the name of humanity and in spite of the UN resolution which it now ignores and has done for some time. And we are supposed to be the good guys. No wonder arabs hate the west so much as we bomb muslims. And we do this while we are cutting our armed forces, cutting equipment, cutting public spending in the civil service and increasing taxes to the point that families living on the bread line are reduced to begging for help. Government taxes on petrol (80% of cost) have made the motor car a luxury for the rich. We cannot afford this war with Libya and it was none of our business in the first place.  Tuppy
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19 June:   Briony. You just need to read the news to see hoaw Nato has got it wrong. 5 civilians were killed last night. Is that humanitarian bombing? Why are we still attacking Tripoli anyway? Maybe because of regime change.   Will
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18 June:   To answer Tuppy, I don't accept that Nato is not playing by the rules. Our pilots have aborted missions when they believed civilian casualties might have resulted. We do not target civilians, unlike Gaddafi's forces. We are told that we are not targetting Gaddafi directly but if he happens to be in a military location that gets hit his death is lawful. That sounds fine to me. The UN mission is to protect civilians and that is what we are doing.   Briony 
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18 June:   To reply to Aspals comment. Your not really defending the Cleggeron are you. The article you linked to in my comment makes the point that people still in the navy and retired officers too rallied to First Sea Lord's support and that he was only stating the obvious. They get the point. Cleggeron doesn't. It's no wonder those in the services are keen to see the military covenant put into law. You can't trust this Condem government one bit.   Tuppy
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16 June:  I note with some surprise the post of Tess from 9 May. "CPS to take over military prosecutions????" I echo the thoughts of Aspals. This would not be the best course of action for the military. The Crown Court are not best placed to dela with cases where there are service issues which the Judges nor the jury would have much idea of comprehending. Whilst i have critised the Court-Martial system in the past, the changes made by succesive Armed Forced legislation has had a positive impact on the system. Yes, there are still some fault, but no legal system is perfect. At a time when the CPS are undergoing redundancies due to cut backs in funding, it would not make sense for them to take over prosecutions.
Lets us see what results of the SPA, after all it is still in its infancy. Surprisingly, i am a defence advocate not a Prosecutor.
On a different point, i note with interest the Armed Forces Bill 2011. s.4 independance of service police investigations. Now who would have seen that coming??  Goldie
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16 June:  Having a go at the head of the navy isn't the way for the Cleggeron to show us he knows what he's doing. Compare the facts. Experienced navy officer with over 30 years service expresses opinion on state of the navy. Chinless wonder public schoolboy with no experience of any of the three forces says he's wrong. I know who i trust.  Thinners
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I think you will find that Mr Cameron's views were based on those of the CDS, Sir David Richards, from whom he probably took advice. Take a look at this link from the previous day: Telegraph, 14 June. All the same, I agree that the comments of the First Sea Lord are troubling and, even taking account of his Service links, his concerns should be taken seriously.       Aspals
16 June:   Theres no point in having a rule book Briony if you dont play by the rules. The UN mandate was supposed to be made under the rule book of the charter, but we didn't stick by those provisions. Okay so we are all concerned about civvies, but does that only mean rebel civvies or are Gaddafi supporters included? This is not our business and we shouldn;t be involved and paying for it when at eh same time we are cutting our armed services and reducing spending. We have one war to fight already in Afghan. The government should stop mucking about in Libya and put its effort into Afghan where our soldiers are still dying.  Tuppy
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15 June:   It is very sad that NATO might destroy historical sites, but isn't it better to do that if it saves civilian lives? If Gaddafi just stopped killing civilians then we could understand, perhaps his argument that the airstrikes should stop but he is still targetting them. He is a horrid man.   Briony 
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15 June:   Gaddafi is really driving NATO nuts. Not content with bombing the hell out of him, the story today is that they now want to target ancient historical sights because he hides his tanks there. That really is a sign of desperation by the coalition. It might be legal to do this under the laws of war but is it really what we stand for, destroying ancient monuments? We are acting like bullies growing increasingly frustrated that the pesky little Gaddafi will not give in, so we are resorting to more and more aggression. The fight is now between two armies one loyal to the government and the other supported by Nato fighting against it. We have to leave them to get on with it. It isnt our fight and the cry about protecting civilians doesn't justify the sort of things now being considered. Even the South Africans are saying enough is enough. The only people not interested in peace are Nato and the rebels. Why should the rebels sit down and talk when Nato is flying thousands of sorties to kill their enemies. It is time that the allies were forced to comply with the resolution as they've been given too much leeway.  Will
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9 June:   And handing out loads of loot to the rebels so that they can buy weapons.   Tuppy
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8 June:   The criminal attempts of NATO to kill Gaddafi have brought the reputations of the so called good guys to a new low. Everyone knows that NATO isnt interested in peace. Like Thinners says you've got the ICC indicting Gaddafi to give him no escape and the allies ignoring any pleas to talk peace unless it has a precondition of Gaddafi's exit. Even the International Crisis Group (see today's Daily Mail)tried to persuade the rebels and their Nato allies to propose a ceasefire because NATO demands for Gaddafi to step down as a pre-condition of ending hostilities and threats of war crimes charges effectively had forced him in to a corner. We know it and so does NATO. The fact that they don't compromise shows they are only intent on getting rid of him by killing him.  Will
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Link added to the Mail article. The UNSCR does not authorise regime change. In fact, it "demands the immediate establishment of a ceasefire". The International Crisis Group is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict, founded in 1995. Its current president is Louise Arbour, the first prosecutor appointed to the ICTY and later appointed a Supreme Court judge by the Canadian Government. Its views are therefore worth listening to. That they are ignored by the "might is right" mentality of the coalition is deeply regrettable. To quote from their report summary: "Although the declared rationale of this intervention was to protect civilians, civilians are figuring in large numbers as victims of the war, both as casualties and refugees, while the leading Western governments supporting NATO™s campaign make no secret of the fact that their goal is regime change...Besides fuelling a large-scale refugee crisis, they are raising the risk of infiltration by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, whose networks of activists are present in Algeria, Mali and Niger. All this, together with mounting bitterness on both sides, will constitute a heavy legacy for any post-Qaddafi government...to date, the [rebel] leadership and their NATO supporters appear to be uninterested in resolving the conflict through negotiation. " As said before, the mandate is in tatters.        Aspals
7 June:  Just when you think Nato and the coalition couldn't have made a bigger mess of the Libyan business the Criminal court sticks its oar in by sending out charges against Gaddafi and his senior people to make sure that there's no prospect of a peaceful solution or an early cease fire. What incentive is there for them to go quietly when the court and Nato give them no way out. So they keep fighting and more and more people keep dying. Great strategy. Really gives you confidence in joined up leadership. The trouble is all these organisations are trying to prove how valuable they are instead of thinking about what is the best way forward.  Thinners
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If we think back to the Bosnia conflict, the ICTY did the same thing with Karadzic. Just as he was about to fly to Dayton for the US-brokered peace agreement, the ICTY issued an indictment against him for war crimes. So he stayed behind in Pale. Fortunately for us, and in spite of the regrettable approach of the Tribunal, when asked by the US to act as his agent and sign on his behalf Milosevic agreed. So, we then used the services of a "war criminal", Milosevic, to assist us with the peace initiative. Then we prosecuted him. I think it was lucky for some western leaders that he died before he revealed the full background to what went on and how much he in fact cooperated with the IFOR. The ICC seems to be as keen as the ICTY was to make its mark. The question is whether in so doing, and blocking any exit for Gaddafi, which will result in continuation of the war, they have unwittingly signed the death warrants of many more Libyans who may be killed in the fighting and the NATO humanitarian bombardments.        Aspals
2 June:   Yemen violence today reported worse than in Libya and a UN report finding that Libyan rebels also committed war crimes hasn't stopped the NATO force siding with the rebels against Gaddafi. Was there a UN resolution once upon a time.   Will
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We've now posted these stories. It will be interesting to see if the ICC shows as much enthusiasm for prosecuting the rebels as it does for government forces. It must act fairly if it is to retain credibility and dispel appearances of political bias.       Aspals
28 May:   There's the clue Will, G8 which means money. The Russians will have got something out of this I'll bet to make it worth their while to sell their support for Gaddafi who is a spent force now anyway.   Tuppy
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One suspects that there was some sort of incentive for the Russians to change their tack. As you say, this was, after all, a meeting of the G8. We should look to foreign aid packages etc. The Russians have form for this sort of double dealing. In December 2003 Putin reiterated that his country had no intention of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, because the treaty was 'scientifically flawed' and 'even 100 per cent compliance with [it] wont reverse climate change'. Four months later Putin made a staggering U-turn. On an initiative from Tony Blair, he had struck a political bargain with the EU which had no connection with climate change. Russia wished to enter the World Trade Organisation on favourable terms, by being classified as a developing country. In return for the EU agreeing to support him, Putin agreed to ratify Kyoto. Putin had also been made aware that, because Russia had closed down large parts of its most polluting industries since the collapse of the Soviet Union, its carbon emissions had already dropped very drastically since the cut-off year of 1990. This meant that Russia would start off way below its Kyoto allowance and would thus be able to make billions of dollars a year under the UN™s Clean Development Mechanism from selling those 'carbon credits' which were a key part of the Kyoto system. (See "The Real Global Warming Disaster") So there will have been some backhander offered to sway the Russians from supporting Gaddafi. So we must look at what our PM and the other leaders have offered the Russians. In relation to Syria, it is just a question of the members of the Security Council finding the right price to prevent the Russians from exercising the veto which they have threatened to do.       Aspals
28 May:   Has Russia shown itself to be another fairweather friend to Libya? After protests about what Nato was doing it sold out the Libyan government at the G8.   Will
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26 May:   The report Scipio mentioned is not about a resolution for intervention in Syria. The prupose is to condemn the Syrian government for human rights abuses.   Briony 
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I think the situation may be explained at the end of the article, where there is reference to the statement "Last week, President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia would not support a council resolution on Syria - a longtime ally of Moscow - if it were similar to a 17 March resolution authorising military intervention in Libya."        Aspals
26 May:   How prescient of Anthony. Today's Guardian is reporting that Russia may exercise a veto over a proposed resolution to interfere in Syria. It looks like the Nato attacks might have undermined confidence in security council resolutions authorizing all necessary means.   Scipio 
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25 May:   Major-General Julian Thompson has written a very interesting article in today's Independent concerning the Libya conflict. In his view, NATO has learned few lessons from the past. I agree.
One matter that does trouble me is the increasing use of NATO aircraft to aid the rebels. This is stretching the mandate for a NFZ and protection of civilians. In fact, it looks very much like NATO is acting as an agent of the rebels. Does the use of NATO weaponry in a role which now overtly supports rebel operations equate to arming the rebels and constitute, therefore, another breach of the UNSCR? We must not, of course, forget that special forces have deployed to Libya and are "on the ground" assisting the rebels as "military advisers". NATO is not interested in a ceasefire (which is demanded in paragraph 1 of the mandate) and is now resolved to killing Gaddafi and/or bombing him into submission. It will probably achieve either or both of its aims, but at the price of breaching the very international law it is supposed to uphold. No matter what we are told, it is still a case of "might is right". The reluctance to take on equally brutal regimes in Bahrain, Syria, Yemen and Saudi speak volumes. Perhaps these nations are of more use to certain national interests than Libya and there is no appetite to jeopardise relations with them, so the international community metaphorically merely wags a finger at them while their repressive methods against their people continue. Breaching the UN Charter is apparently fine if it is to settle an old score with Gaddafi. But the real victim in all of this is the United Nations. This crisis has exposed how the words of a UNSCR can be distorted and interpreted as the protagonists wish. Bearing in mind that only two thirds of the UNSC supported Resolution 1973, it is hardly a strong authority for the sort of liberties being taken by NATO and the coalition. Perhaps the next time a Chapter VII authority is sought for the use of "all necessary measures", one of the UNSC members might actually exercise a veto. Having re-written the concept of sovereignty, the UN is laying the ground for openly interfering in the internal affairs of member nations. If it wants to do this, then it must change the Charter to do so.   Anthony
Aspals Consultancy
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19 May:   That article just about sums it all up.   Will
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18 May:   The article by Simon Jenkins in yesterday's Guardian is a superb critique of the military action against Libya and the way that the UN mandate has been distorted out of all recognition. He accuses the coalition of mendacity and having a hidden agenda, which is to kill Colonel Gaddafi and regime change. The sub-heading is, "As the RAF roams Tripoli seeking Gaddafi homes to attack, the pretence of protecting civilians is exposed each night". It is well worth a read.
Writing about regime change as a justification for the Iraq war, the late Lord Bingham, an eminent judge and human rights lawyer of great distinction, quoted with approval the passage from the advice of the Attorney General of the day, Lord Peter Goldsmith QC, on 7 March 2003 "that while regime change might be a result of disarming Saddam Hussein, it could not in itself be a lawful objective of military action." In fact, Lord Goldsmith's advice went on to say in the next sentence, "This should be borne in mind in considering the list of military targets and in making public statements about any campaign." That was within the context of a war. Was he referring to targeting of Saddam? The UNSCRs do not authorise the sort of action that the government wishes to pursue and certainly does not authorise the murder (euphemistically expressed as a targeted killing) of Gaddafi. As has been mentioned before, I believe that the methods employed by the coalition to distort the mandate beyond recognition may have done lasting damage to the way the Security Council approaches similar crises in the future. Some authority for that view is to be found in the reluctance to approve similar action against Syria.
Surely the lesson to be learned here is quite simple: ensure that your mandate gives you the authorisations you need and, if you do not get them, do not stretch the interpretation to the point where the original authorisations are totally unrecognisable.   Anthony
Aspals Consultancy
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17 May:   Another US exercise of "Might is right" by shooting at Pakistani troops from a US helicopter in Pakistan as reported by the BBC. Seems to me that old established principles of respect for territorial sovereignty are stood on their head. Pakistan and Libya are two good examples.   Baz
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See the comments below on the Corfu Channel Case, where th e ICJ held that "between independent States the respect for territorial sovereignty is an essential foundation for international relations". Having said that, one has some sympathy when a border is porous and is used as a base or retreat by an enemy such as Al Qaeda, seen to be harboured within Pakistan territory. There is a fine line between self-defensive action and action which is tantamount to a flagrant breach of sovereignty. From a US perspective, the threat posed to US forces by terrorists within Pakistan is one that is not being dealt with properly by the Pakistan authorities. The Caroline Case of 1837 springs to mind. That case concerned British action to put down a rebellion in Upper Canada. "The United States, while unwilling to antagonise a superpower by supporting the rebels directly, failed to prevent a private militia being formed. The volunteers used a steamboat, the Caroline, to transport arms and men to an island on the Canadian side of the Niagara River. The British responded with a night raid: capturing the vessel as it was docked at Fort Schlosser, New York, they set it on fire and sent it over Niagara Falls. The Caroline case did nothing to prevent aggression, but it did draw a legal distinction between war and self-defence. As long as the act being defended against was not itself an act of war, peace would be maintained " a matter of considerable importance to relatively weak countries, as the United States then was."        Aspals
16 May:   I think the difference between what was on offer and what is now on offer is significant. If it goes into a law then it is binding on the government. Great news.   Tuppy
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15 May:   It is really great news about the military covenant. If this works as it should, then there will be no more poor treatment of servicemen and women. It should also mean we all get the right kit before we deploy.   Tuppy
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It is to be welcomed. I am, however, only cautiously optimistic because this government is not one that can be trusted to keep its promises. It initially promised a legally binding covenant and then reneged. It was only through backbench pressure and the sterling work of the Royal British Legion that it relented. But even now the eventual shape of the legal provision is unclear. Will it set out defined rights? Unlikely. The probability is that it will make general provision for some sort of legal redress. While that could mean disaster for the government, if the courts interpret general provisions liberally (as well they might), it might not. The trouble is that it is difficult to trust a government from which these long overdue rights (some might argue that a government that really respected its armed forces would never have failed to treat them properly to need such a provision in the first place) have been obtained after a long struggle and after witnessing the services treated abominably. Is it still looking for a way to concede the minimum possible to those most deserving?
It is yet another example of how grudgingly they make any concession in recognition of the different status of the serviceman in society. One must also remember the betrayal over service pensions and the move from RPI to CPI. This has been a most callous exploitation of the absence of contractual rights for servicemen which is likely to cause real hardship. While the Services and veterans and widows will lose many thousands of pounds (see, for example, the figures quoted on the Forces Pension website and the petition to stop the move from RPI), the government insists it is fair and moreover does not accept that there is any breach of the expectation created when servicemen joined on pension earning terms that only ever included the RPI (as the CPI did not exist until the 90s). The civil service, who have a union and whose members hold contracts of employment, are challenging the government plan to change to CPI. Teachers are now set to mount the same challenge. I wish them luck and I hope that the courts see the justice of their case. Ultimately, for servicemen, servicewomen, veterans and widows, if the government does not play fair, they may articulate their collective antipathy through the ballot box. They should.       Aspals
15 May:   great news about the military covenant. at long last soldiers rights will be protected properly by law.    pete  
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11 May:   Gaddafi's still alive Nato haven't got him yet. Just seen him in film footage verfied taken today.   Tuppy
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1 May:   There's a lot of sanctimonious and hypocritical talk over Libya. We presume to know best, yet other Arab states stand by and watch events in Libya without batting an eye lid. The hypocrisy comes from the fact that it was our very own Tony Blair who brought Gaddafi in from the cold and persuaded him to reduce his chemical weapons. Now NATO is trying to kill him. Even the Torygraph carried a story about it. If we then set about attacking dictators who we've persuaded to change their ways, we will never succeed in doing the same again. No dictator will reduce his weapons stocks and trust a word we westerners say. The might of NATO air forces bombing night and day and now hitting civilian targets and killing civilians has still not achieved much. I was interested to read that the so called genocide in Misrata is really a tally of 300 "civilian" deaths over the weeks of fighting, according to a BBC report from what medics in the town said. It didn't say how many of the "civilians" were actually combatants. The lesson to be learned, according to the UN, is that a government has no right to defend itself against a civilian armed uprising. If it does, then it will be bombed night and day and its people pitted against each other for years to come, whatever the outcome of the fighting.   Will
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You make some good points, Will. The Telegraph story about killing Gaddafi is here. As to the genocide point, here is the link from the BBC news item. It highlights the point I made earlier that wild and unverified allegations of genocide are bandied about with alacrity by the press and media and without any real regard to the meaning of the word. Of course, sometimes it is a convenient excuse to mount the sort of punishing military campaigns we have witnessed in both Kosovo and now Libya. Cynics might say that the Libya bombing couldn't have come at a better time for our armed forces facing, as they are, swingeing cuts from the coalition government. This has proved the government was wrong. However, it remains to be seen whether the government will actually admit its gross error. Somehow I doubt it. I wish the Chiefs of the 3 Services good luck in their endeavours to preserve force and equipment levels.        Aspals
10 May:   NATO's bombing spree goes on, their ears deaf to pleas for a break in hostilities by, among others, Baroness Amos of the UN. They are not targeting Gaddafi they say, yet they continue to bomb his residential compound within days of killing his son and three grandchildren. Where is the threat to civilians in Misrata? NATO say they are complying with the UNSCR, but they continue to break it. If it were not so monstrous it would actually be farcical: they do the precise opposite to what they say. What a sad state of affairs we are in when the words of a UN mandate are twisted to suit the agenda of a few of its members. We shall yet see what damage this has done to the credibility of the UN Security Council.   Anthony
Aspals Consultancy
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9 May:   I think Aspals are the only web site reporting atrocities by rebels in Libya. Evryone else tends to focuss on the government. NATO is turning a blind eye by letting it go on. If the rebels get the weapons they say they will that can only be through a breach of the arms embargo by the allies otherwise the allies would have to stop it because that's what the resolution says, no weapons for anyone.   Tuppy
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9 May:   What a relief to read today that the CPS may be taking over military prosecutions at last. Hopefully it will mean that soldiers and other servicemen and women will be tried in the Crown Court and there will be no more secret courts made up of members of the same club.  Tess 
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If that does happen I think it will be a sad day. I know you are not a fan of the system, Tess, but military justice has served us well for over 60 years since the system was first modernised by the 1955 Army Act.        Aspals
7 May:   If I am on a high horse about torture being wrong then there are a lot of people up here with me.   Briony 
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7 May:   Might is definitely right when it comes to international terrorism. The US regularly flouts Pakistan soveriegnty through drone attacks on Al Qaida and recently be sending in aircraft and troops to kill Osama Bin Laden. If the UN treaty says that the sovereignty of states is ot be protected, how does the US get the legal authority to do what it does, other than it has the military might to do it.   Baz
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5 May:   get off your high horse briony. if torture saves lives i say use it. thre's too much holier than thou in your argument. think about what youd say if one of your relatives was killed because our boys didnt help him a terrorist remember where the bomb he planted was. terrorists use our rights against us. they shouldnt have rights.    pete  
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5 May:   Torture is never justified. If it is banned that is it. I wish people would stop continually raising this matter. It doesn't matter if it works, it is illegal.   Briony 
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4 May:   Bin Laden's death is not just obscuring news about the Libya bombing by NATO it's also obscuring coverage of the atrocities going on in Syria. After all, when Libya deploys tanks against its own people they are attacked by NATO planes and the ICC starts drafting a charge sheet (neither of which I have a problem with) but there is nothing done about Syria. Maybe this is down to the fact that after what's happening in Libya no one in the security council trusts us now to stick to a mandate. That's why resolutions should be followed not loosely interpreted. It is bad for international law because there's inconsistency.   Scipio 
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It is a legacy of "knee jerk" responses. While it is often said that we can't fight every cause but it is better to do what we can when we can, I suggest we should have exercised more caution, especially as we were aware that there were several countries in the Arab world that were facing or about to face civil unrest at about the same time. I agree with Scipio that there has been inconsistency in approach and that the NATO/coalition liberal interpretation of the Libya mandate may have done the UN machinery serious damage in terms of future Security Council Resolutions. The eagerness with which nations lined up to take a shot at Gaddafi and the eventual revelation of their true agenda, to kill him, do a disservice to the cause of international law. In any event, it is by no means certain that Gaddafi's death would change anything as his son, Saif, may have a loyal following too. After all, when you are offered no option by the international community but death, you will probably want to fight to the bitter end.
Having said that, it is to be welcomed that the ICC prosecutor is to press charges against persons committing crimes against humanity and war crimes in relation to the deliberate targeting of civilians. Gaddafi's friends have started to desert him, with Turkey today announcing that he should go. But with today's announcement by the prosecutor, there is nowhere for the regime to go to, save for the few countries not signatories to the Rome Statute - perhaps the US will take him (before anyone bites my head off, I was joking).
Personally I still think that the only way to resolve this crisis, with or without Col Gaddafi, is through negotiation and reconciliation, because whoever wins this civil war is going to have a large section of the population as its former enemy, and they will need to talk to them.        Aspals
4 May:   The killing of bin Laden may be down to an informant. I can't see how else the yanks would have know the layout of the interior in the detail they had to produce a mock up unless someone on the inside told them. Maybe one of the other "bodies" is the informant and is at this very moment being given a new identity and pots of cash. Still, he did the world a great favour and hats off to the Americans for doing it. But I agree that the timing is just a little of a coincidence. This story has overshadowed the ongoing and intense nato bombing of Gaddafi's forces.   Tuppy
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Take a look at the article by Toby Harnden in today's Telegraph. He agrees.        Aspals
4 May:   the reason they got bin laden was through intel from gitmo detainees who were tortured. guess torture does work then.    pete   [Link added]
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3 May:   Am I the only one who thinks the timing of the slotting of Bin Laden is very convenient. After all NATO had just screwed up in a big way by taking out one of Gaddafi's sons and 3 grandchildren so what better way to bury that news, sorry no pun meant, than to carry out a spectacular hit that would capture all front page news coverage.   Thinners
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2 May:   UNSCR 1973 effectively recognised a right of states to intervene for humanitarian reasons and gave such intervention a lawful basis in the campaign against Libya. There is mixed support in the international legal fraternity for this concept - or there had been - as it is difficult to see the authority for intervention in the wording of the UN Charter. Back in 1999, Michael Byers wrote in Counsel Magazine that "that a brief review of how international law is made, and changed, demonstrates that the NATO campaign [in Kosovo] was illegal." To paraphrase him (accepting that he was referring to military action based upon perceived humanitarian need which was unilaterally taken by NATO without a UN resolution):
"A right to humanitarian intervention does not exist and the events in Kosovo do not constitute a precedent in international law. Article 2(4) of the UN Charter does not confer support for humanitarian intervention. It states that all members shall refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. There are only 2 exceptions to this: (1) authorisation by the Security Council and (2) use of force in self-defence."
He thought that any argument that humanitarian intervention is legitimate, because it is not directed against the territorial integrity or political independence of the target state, runs directly contrary to the clear intentions behind Article 2(4). He concluded that there is unequivocally no argument of jus cogens to support a right of humanitarian intervention and, furthermore, that might is not right. He reminded us of the Corfu Channel case, which regarded "... an alleged right of intervention as a policy of force..." which cannot find a place in international law, as "it would be reserved to the most powerful states". In other words, might is right has no place in international law.
The UNSCR 1973 changed this by deciding that, on quite weak evidence, intervention for humanitarian, and quite specific, purposes would be authorised and the sovereign territory of a member state violated legitimately. The UNSCR provided the basis in law for taking this major step. Yet there were and are worse offenders in terms of oppression than Gaddafi, but he is the one they decided to get rid of - without any meaningful contribution from the Arab League, who are leaving the dirty work to the west. Gaddafi's stubbornness has goaded the coalition into seriously breaching the UN mandate - that is the sad truth, no matter how much they protest otherwise. The situation in Libya is now very unstable and if anything this has been exacerbated by NATO/coalition action in its attacks on Tripoli and, in particular, Gaddafi's compound and residential area. It may be correct that attacks on command and control centres are lawful under the resolution, but it is another matter whether this particular target should have been hit when the reality is that local commanders on the ground are making the tactical decisions and deciding on the weapons to be employed, not Gaddafi. Consequently, it looks very much like an attempted assassination - which although lawful in war is actually illegal under the terms of the UNSCR. There is no authority for it. The phrase "all necessary measure" does not include the murder of a head of state and his family. That phrase was used in the context of protection of civilians under attack (§4) and a no-fly zone (§8) The recent NATO killings of Gaddafi's son and grandchildren may very well harden attitudes. They were killed by NATO after Libya had offered peace talks. Whatever the reality, it makes it look like NATO is not interested in peace and that its campaign is being driven by the rebels and not by the UN mandate.
As Jackie Ashley wrote in yesterday's Guardian, "In war, international law is all we have. If we cast it aside, there'll be nothing left but might-is-right, arms, oil and profits." She then adds, "I wonder whether Barack Obama's reluctance to get too involved partly reflects the US intelligence information about Islamist activity in the very same areas of eastern Libya now in rebel hands." The UK and her allies have leapt in with both feet on the side of the rebels, though we have no real idea who they really are or what sort of a government will be viable or achievable in the aftermath of any defeat for Colonel Gaddafi and, importantly, whether we are unwittingly paving the way for fundamentalism. And, just as with Iraq, there is no post-conflict plan.   Anthony
Aspals Consultancy
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1 May:   NATO's killing of Gadaffi's son and grandchildren is the clearest evidence so far of the purpose of targeting Gaddafi. NATO has been hitting the compound where he lives for ages. This has to stop. The west's behaviour is provoking a serious and possible international escalation of the war they are fighting with the rebels. The latest news is that the British compound in Tripoli was attacked I guess by pro Gaddafi supporters. More innocent civilians are falling victim to this war. NATO's job is to protect civilians not just those siding with the rebels.   Will
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30 April:   Doesn't matter how many times Gaddafi asks for peacetalks and tha African States backed his last attempt, Nato just isn't interested. They are just gonna bomb his into oblivion. Never understood why Tripoli buyildings were a danger to civilians hundreds of kilometers away in Misrata.  Baz
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28 April:   Yesterday's security council fiasco over Syria is a result of the legacy of the Libya mandate and how it has been distorted beyond recognition. Russia is quite right that there is no threat to international peace although there might be if the west intervened. Mission creep to the extent we are witnessing in Libya has undermined the confidence of security council members who were already uncomfortable about the Libyan mandate. Our own government piously declares its respect for international law while at the same time the PM talks about breaching the arms embargo in the UN resolution for Libya by arming the rebels. No wonder nations are worried that any mandate for Syria might be open to interpretation and extreme mission creep.   Scipio 
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I agree with everything you say, Scipio. The aggressive and biased approach of the coalition/NATO is extremely worrying. The real effect is that we have sided with the rebels. This is outside the parameters of the UN mandate. But the really fundamental point you make relates to the initial justification for UN intervention, namely, the assertion that the situation in Libya constituted a threat to world peace. It was never explained how Libya's internal problems would destabilise other nations and lead to conflict. Nor was it challenged at the time, as I seem to recall. The tragedy is that the present situation, caused by the coalition interpretation of the mandate, has probably contributed to a destabilisation that might threaten international peace, but even that is not an unequivocal assumption.       Aspals
23 April:   We supply weapons to the rebels and the Russians and Chinese arm Gaddafi's men. Result, long drawn out war which is what Hague is now saying. Why is he saying it, because he knows that is the result of this cak handed British foreign policy.   Will
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27 April:   When is killing your own people genocide and when is it not genocide? When it's done by Gaddafi it's genocide. An Armenian friend of mine was telling me about what the Turks did to his people, yet Turkey refused to call that genocide and there are so I am told academics who agree with them. Looks like Libya was personal for Cameron and the others.   Thinners
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27 April:   never mind arming the rebels what about arming our own troops first.    pete 
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27 April:   What is the value of an Arab life? I suppose it depends. A few deaths in Libya was sufficient to bring down the combined wrath of the UN, USA, UK, France and NATO, violating Libyan sovereignty and bombing and killing Libyan government forces wherever they found them all in the name of protecting the civilian population, although the section of the civilian population to be saved is that which is anti-Gaddafi. Since the intervention the number of people dying has increased severely. Yet, in Syria, hundreds of protesters have been killed and there is not a NATO air sortie to be seen or heard. The duplicity and double standards employed by the coalition in respect of Libya highlights the real purpose behind the huge military effort employed against that little country: get Gaddafi. After all, we know little about the rebels we are helping. Who are they? Which of the various rebel factions do we trust? Frustrated that their earlier efforts failed, and not content that their stretching of the UN mandate to unrecognisable proportions hasn't sufficed, they are now openly suggesting deliberately target him and, in the clearest of breaches of the arms embargo in the mandate, arming the rebels. This is not an international armed conflict that we have embroiled ourselves in, yet these sorts of thoughts are being considered by senior politicians. Meanwhile, civilians are dying in Syria with government forces using tanks and live ammunition against protesters.
The selectivity of causes that provoke UN outrage of such magnitude as to sponsor a UN Security Council Resolution is deeply worrying and makes one wonder whether the process is governed more by a desire to settle parochial scores than to see justice done and human rights protected. And where are the Arab nations in all of this score settling? Nowhere - apart from the token presence of tiny Qatar. They are on the sidelines watching the combined billion dollar forces of the most powerful western, non-Muslim, nations smash one of their Arab neighbours.
And where are the five nations who abstained from the UNSCR vote? Of these, Russia, China and Germany were most vocal before hand. They are all standing by watching the credibility of the UN crumble as the so-called mandate is left in tatters, although Vladimir Putin was quoted in today's Daily Mail as asking who gave the coalition the right to sentence Gaddafi to death, regardless of the type of person he is? The next time a UNSCR is being debated, perhaps they need to make sure it is more tightly drawn so as to prohibit the level of liberal "interpretation" which the coalition tries to justify in the violation of Libyan sovereignty. They are soon due to meet to discuss Syria. Let us hope that they do not leap into the same ill-thought out process that they did for Libya. Knee-jerk politics is of no benefit to anyone.   Anthony
Aspals Consultancy
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23 April:   Coalition policy is definitely aggravating the situation in Libya. If the pro Gaddafi tribes join the fight then we really will have a civil war, all because NATO stopped Gaddafi from finishing the job quickly. So more people will die. Which civilians will NATO protect then? It will be a bit difficult to carry on siding with the rebels when they are obviously not the voice of the people of Libya but just a portion. Maybe they'll just carry on bombing Gaddafi's compound in Tripoli miles from the fighting.   Thinners
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22 April:   If I gave the impression that I was disdainful of the loss of 3,000 lives I apologise. I was in fact trying to show that the exaggerated figures quoted in the press and by Kosovan rebels was, in truth, hugely more than the real figure and that what was broadcast as genocide was nothing of the kind. Nevertheless, I agree that any loss of life is regrettable, especially if it is civilian. But, of course, it is quite lawful to kill an enemy combatant in time of war or to kill in self defence. Moreover, as terrible a fact as it is, civilians (including children) are quite often unwitting casualties in times of conflict. That is the dreadful reality of war. The soft label is "colateral damage". However, the fact that civilians are killed in the fighting (and how easy is it, anyway, to distinguish a civilian who sometimes carries a weapon and acts as a combatant, from one who does not) does not mean that genocide is being carried out. Even the deliberate targeting of civilians in an area is not ipso facto evidence of genocide, although it would be a crime against humanity or a war crime (see articles 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute).
In the Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of the Crime of Genocide, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
  1. Killing members of the group;
  2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
There is insufficient evidence of the deliberate targeting of civilians, when the rebels are themselves civilians with weapons, although what has been reported is some indiscriminate shelling which itself may amount to a war crime. But this is not a traditional war-fighting situation where regular units face each other. Only some of the rebels wear uniform and in such circumstances it is not always easy to distinguish the combatant from the non-combatant - both wear civilian clothing. Systematic targeting of civilians for one of the purposes set out in article 2 (repeated in article 6 of the Rome Statute) must occur before the situation can begin to be labeled as a genocide. The intent required is "to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group". The inflammatory reports by rebels and journalists of civilian casualties are unverified. There are no accurate accounts of how many of the civilian casualties are in fact rebel fighters. Press reports tend to focus on the obviously innocent victims, such as children. But the roles of those adult males shown in their numbers lying in hospital beds are not identified at all. There has been little film footage of female civilian causalities. A reasonable inference, therefore, is that the male casualties are either wholly or partially a result of engaging in the fighting.
The open admission of regime change as a sine qua non for peace negotiations, the use of drones against Gaddafi's fighting forces engaged in armed conflict with rebels (who started it), NATO air strikes against Gaddafi's forces and equipment wherever they can be found and even in areas where there is no threat to the civilian population that supports the rebels, and the deployment of military advisers to help the rebels comprise overwhelming evidence of taking sides with the rebels which, to most observers, looks like engaging in the current hostilities in a supporting role. The extent to which the coalition has stretched the mandate renders the original document unrecognisable. It is lamentable that the so-called "good guys" can ignore the extent of the lawful authority given to them by the Security Council, especially when one third of the Council's members abstained from supporting the proposed action. We are way beyond a NFZ and protection of civilians. We, that is NATO and the coalition, are engaging in war fighting with the rebels with the unlawful intent of overthrowing Colonel Gaddafi. If anything, it is worsening the situation for its own purposes and making the chance of a reconciliation of the Libyan people more difficult as each day of fighting and killing passes.   Anthony
Aspals Consultancy
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22 April:   Anthony, I am appalled that you think the killing of "a few thousand" in Kosovo is acceptable. Civilians are not participants in war, they are victims and should be protected. We cannot stand by idly and watch them die.   Briony 
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22 April:   Link to Anthony's comment of 20th. He makes some great points. What is the point of asking the UN to produce a mandate when it is ignored. The sending of "military advisers" to help the rebels, the use of NATO aircraft to bomb the Gaddafi force and the deployment of drones to kill more Gaddafi soldiers are bold declarations of alliance with the rebels and drive a coach and horses through the UN mandate. Just goes to show how countries make up international law as they go along and the UN is powerless to stop them, certainly the likes of the US. There's no need for a UN if members bend legal authorities to breaking point like this bunch are doing. Where are the Arabs in all of this and why aren't they getting involved instead of us?   Baz
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As I said before, Baz, this is not so much Mission Creep as Mission March - or even Mission Run. The level of involvement you advert to is way beyond enforcement of the NFZ and protection of civilians authorised by the UNSCR. Generally engaging Gaddafi's forces is warfighting, for which there is absolutely no mandate at all, and it is illegal. The intent is to keep going until Gaddafi departs. The matter should be referred to the ICJ without delay.       Aspals
20 April:   France, Italy Britain have all sent military advisers. They all belong to NATO so their actions are NATO's actions and NATO's actions are there actions.   Will
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20 April:   There is an important lesson here for members of the UN Security Council. Because of the way that UNSCR 1973 has been stretched and distorted to further the real agenda of regime change sought by three key nations, future UNSCRs might be much more tightly drawn lest any member exercises a veto on a loosley worded mandate. There is the most obvious disconnect between the words of NATO and the actions of some of its members. NATO continues to smash government military equipment whether it is actually being used in military action against civilians or not. Such systematic destruction shows NATO is taking sides, as it is attacking and destroying these assets when used in fighting against rebels and, even in Tripoli when as recently, it destroyed an anti-aircraft unit set up to defend Tripoli. Why should NATO be attacking Tripoli? Why should the citizens of Tripoli be fearful of attack by Gaddafi's forces when his most fervent supporters live there?
I agree with Tuppy that unverified alarmist statements by the rebels about levels of casualties cast a question mark over the veracity and reliability of other statements they have made. But our government is still prepared to drag us further into this quagmire based upon unverified accounts of rebels, who clearly have an interest of their own to serve in using inflammatory language to keep up the media pressure on the main players. It really is reminiscent of the wild allegations made before the Kosovo invasion by NATO (carried out without a UN mandate) following the press and media reports of one hundred thousand killed through genocide when, according the UN special expert investigation, the real number of deaths was put at a few thousand, with it being difficult to determine how many of those were actually killed in the fighting. "In August 2000, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) announced that it had exhumed 2,788 bodies in Kosovo, but declined to say how many were thought to be victims of war crimes. Earlier however, KFOR sources told Agence France Presse that of the 2,150 bodies that had been discovered up until July 1999, about 850 were thought to be victims of war crimes."
The lesson is "look before you leap" and perhaps, "don't believe everything you see on the news". In truth, the Kosovo invasion by NATO forces achieved its purpose and the false (perhaps even deliberately manufactured?) reports gave it the excuse it wanted to go ahead and "liberate" Kosovo, swapping Serb repression for Albanian. So, perhaps these alarming assertions by Libyan rebels serve NATO's purpose again to provide the justification it so desperately needs to legitimise what it is now doing. With the two sections of the population in Libya being so tragically split by this war, any form of reconciliation will be extremely difficult. Indeed, partition may be the only pragmatic answer. But one suspects that none of this is of any real interest to NATO, as the evident purpose of its military action is to get rid of Gaddafi in spite of the UNSCR, and damn the consequences.   Anthony
Aspals Consultancy
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20 April:   I dare say that when the UK and French "military advisers" are shot at they will fire back and, if necessary, call for armed support from assets waiting nearby. This, they are likely to argue, is not so much a matter of taking sides but of self defence, in the course of which they get dragged into more fighting, soldiers die and before you know it we are in deep.   Thinners
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A case of "Mission March", perhaps?       Aspals
20 April:   The BBC carried a report that rebels said there were 10000 killed in the war so far. This is totally unverified. If this is the level of exaggeration they are capable of how should we believe anything they say. Yet NATO and the member states are. Parliament should be recalled to debate our increased involvement.   Tuppy
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20 April:   Sending in British troops to help rebels in the war against Gaddafi is the clearest evidence of taking sides and more proof of the true purpose, regime change. Meanwhile NATO says it is neutral when it bombs government forces wherever they are and even if they are miles away from civilians, but it glosses over the fact that three of its members (UK, France and US) are on the side of the rebels. Cameron got us into this mess without thinking it through and without knowing enough about what was to happen or who the rebels are. The army is probably lapping up the idea of sending in troops in much the same way as the air force lapped up the use of aircraft because they can show that the government made yet another cock up over the SDSR. If the rebels win, does anyone seriously think that they wont seek and out kill all them who fought against them. These are tribal matters. Look at the killings in other parts of Africa done on tribal lines. These poor decisions about Libya has shown that the UN and Nato are looking for justifications for their existence. What a mess.   Tuppy
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20 April:   OMG they're sending in the troops now. Is this going to be Cameron's Vietnam moment? He's allowing his obsession to cloud his judgment even more.   Thinners
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14 April:   goverment cowardice, human rights and a foreign eu government imposing its will mean victory for fundalmentalists. who would believe that we cant chuck out the country people who want to kill us and are against our way of life.    pete 
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