Manila, March 31, 2011



POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual Jr. (The Philippine Star) Updated March 31, 2011

INTERFERENCE: I thought I have closed the page after saying in my POSTSCRIPT last March 24: “Whatever we think of Libya, it is a sovereign state whose problem is one of rebellion, a domestic conflict.

“When a segment of the population takes up arms against the government, it should expect to get hurt. When the state, with its right and obligation to defend itself, reacts and in the process maims or kills some of the rebels, that is to be expected.

“Rebellion is not a picnic. Rebels cease to be innocent civilians, they are combatants. When government forces shoot back, rebels should not complain to the outside world of being attacked. They have to be attacked. How else can the government defend itself?

“Now when outsiders, especially countries that have an axe to grind against Libya or its leader, use the rebels’ pleas as an excuse to come in not to separate the combatants as in a peacekeeping effort, but to side with one party and shoot at the other, I think that is not right.

“And when the United Nations, which sadly is in the grip of the Big Boys, allows itself to be used for this blatant interference in a domestic conflict, that is even worse.”

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VAGUE NOTION: Then I came upon this March 28 memo of Prof. Hans Kochler, president of the International Progress Organization based in Austria, on UN Resolution 1973 authorizing a “no-fly zone” and “all necessary means” to protect civilians in Libya torn by a civil war.

Kochler said that the notion “all necessary measures” that member-states are invited to take “to protect civilians” and “to enforce compliance with the ban on flights” is vague and undefined.

He said, “Imprecise terms will be interpreted according to the self-interest of the intervening parties and, thus, can never be the basis of legally justified action… such terms have often been used as pretext for a virtually unrestrained use of force.”

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ARBITRARY: To authorize “all necessary means,” he added, “is an invitation to an arbitrary and arrogant exercise of power, and makes the commitment of the United Nations to the international rule of law void of any meaning.”

He noted that the Secretaries of Defense and Foreign Affairs of Great Britain, one of the countries attacking Libya, had declined to exclude the targeted killing of the Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi as one of the measures authorized under Resolution 1973.

But the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation has described the resolution — insofar as it allows everything — as “defective and flawed” and “resembles medieval calls for crusades.”

Noting that “a medieval hostis declaration has no room in modern international law,” Kochler said, “International vigilantism and a humanitarian free-for-all are elements of anarchy and belong in a pre-modern system of imperial powers.”

He said, “The ban on the use of force according to the UN Charter will become totally meaningless, if every member-state can effectively use force in pursuit of an abstract goal in a unilateral manner, and without any checks and balances.”

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WORSE THREAT: Kochler said, “The stated goal of the ‘protection of civilians’ has been implemented by interested member-states, first and foremost the former colonial powers in North Africa in tandem with the US, in a way that has caused even more deaths among innocent civilians.”

The arbitrary way the UN resolution is being carried out, he warned, has led to “an increased threat to international security instead of containing it.”

He said, “What was essentially a domestic conflict, resulting from an armed uprising, has now become an international one.

“By intervening in a domestic conflict on the side of one party, the states that undertook to enforce the resolution… have further fuelled the conflict and brought about a situation that may lead to the disintegration of Libya, with the prospect of long-term instability in the entire North African and Mediterranean region.”

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