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March 1, 2011: Libya

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On R2P, Brazil Cautions Against Regime Change, US Cites Libya Lesson

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 12 -- During the debate on the Responsibility to Protect in the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Brazil's Permanent Representative Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti cautioned against R2P being used for “regime change.”

  Moments later, US representative Rick Barton said that the “decisive action in Libya” shows that the UN has learned its lesson.

  If the lesson was Rwanda and the UN's inaction, largely at the instigation of the US after the Black Hawk Down incident in Somalia, then the passage by the Security Council of Resolution 1973 to authorize air strikes to save Benghazi can be seen as learning the lesson of inaction.

  But when months later the resolution is cited in support of air dropping weapons into another part of Libya, and of bombs viewed as intended to simply kill Gaddafi, some think the concept of Responsibility to Protect has gone too far, or been abused.

  This is an issue that should have been addressed head on by UN R2P expert Ed Luck and his Prevention of Genocide colleague Francis Deng.

  The evening before the debate, Inner City Press asked Luck if he thought the session would involve some R2P bashing, as occurred at a previous session organized by then President of the GA Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, or in last December's budget negotiations.

 No, no, Luck said, backing away. “I think it will be productive.”

Whether it was or not remains to be seen. By late Tuesday afternoon, PGA Joseph Deiss announced there were still 18 speakers, so each would be limited to three minutes. He tried to cut Kenya off as its representative spoke out against collective punishment and selectivity.

PR Viotti & PGA Deiss, on answers on R2P, good Luck

  Georgia spoke out against one country -- Russia -- using R2P to invade, without Security Council approval. That was the argument cited when George W. Bush went into Iraq, but it seems to have been forgotten. France, which criticized the action in Iraq, is now air dropping weapons into Libya in the name of R2P, or at least protection of civilians. Where will this debate be had? Watch this site.

Footnote: in reporting out this story, a number of Western diplomats told Inner City Press they found Brazil's statement consistent with what they called its "obstruction" of a draft resolution on Syria.  But it's worth noting that Brazil was out in front of the EU members when the US demanded a carve out for itself from the referral of Libya and Gaddafi to the International Criminal Court...

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While France "Parachuting" Weapons into Libya is Criticized, UN Committee Does Not Act: Not "Masochistic," Chair Says

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, July 7 -- During an hour-long meeting of the Libya Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council behind closed doors on Thursday afternoon, France's admitted dropping of weapons into Libya's Nafusa Mountains was criticized by Council members including Russia, South Africa and India, as violating the arms embargo in Resolution 1970.

  But afterward when Inner City Press asked the Committee's chairman, Portugal's Permanent Representative Cabral, if the committee's requirement of consensus means that France could block any formal condemnation of its actions, Cabral said “we're not a kind of masochistic society.”

  One of the representatives criticizing France, who told Inner City Press that on this topic four spoke against France and three to varying degrees in support, said that “if a Permanent member violates sanctions, what can you do?”

  The representative pointed to paragraphs 13-16 of Resolution 1970 and said that if France thought that its provision of weapons into Libya was legal, it had a procedure to use, but didn't.

  Another delegation went further, saying that France “parachuted” weapons in, not knowing if they might fall into the hands of Al Qaeda, and asking, “why not weapons of mass destruction, too?” This representative said of Cabral, “He has to be serious, this is a precedent -- if you are not going to enforce them, why even have a committee on sanctions?”

Sarkozy glad-hands Ban, notification under Reso 1973 and top DPKO post not shown

  Inner City Press asked Russia's Deputy Permanent Representative what had been accomplished in the meeting. Pankin distinguished between interpretation -- “legal stuff” -- and the practical, that objections were voiced and “I hope we will not have such a [case] again, that's the most practical.” We'll see.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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