A Final Word About ‘UN Resolution 1973’: No, the Intervention Was Not Legal…

Sirte, Libya, after NATO bombing

If anyone’s getting bored of me talking about the Libya intervention in 2011, I apologise – and I probably won’t do it again after this.

But I just need to clear something up once and for all; because people keep arguing with me about this.

Specifically, this post is addressed to anyone who keeps saying “the intervention was legal” or “The United Nations authorized it”.

And it isn’t just people arguing with me over email or via Twitter: what’s worse by far is having to watch smug-faced and remorseless politicians or ‘experts’, even five years later, still shrugging their shoulders and saying “well, it was entirely legal this time – we had a UN mandate”.

It was their permanent trump card every time someone questioned the legality or legitimacy of the Libya intervention – “We have a UN Resolution!”

In essence, having been so badly burnt by the illegality of the Iraq War and its lack of UN sanction, they all decided this time they would make damn sure they had that UN Resolution so that they could legitimise an unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression.

And boy, did they run with it – they’re still running with it now. Yesterday, when the parliamentary report on David Cameron and the Libya intervention came out, I still saw political figures coming out and saying “well, it was perfectly legal, you know – we had UN approval”.

No, they didn’t.

The UN ‘Resolution 1973 of March 17th 2011 that the conspirators keep clinging to authorised implementation of a ‘no fly zone’ and it called for the implementation of a ceasefire.

That. Is. All.

It did NOT authorise France, Britain, America and NATO to enter the war on the side of the rebel groups. It did not authorise the supply of weapons and money to jihadist militias. It did NOT authorise NATO to begin bombing government locations all over Libya. It did NOT authorise regime-change. And it did NOT authorise any attempts to assassinate Muammar Gaddafi or members of his family or officials of the Libyan Socialist Republic.

All of that was ILLEGAL and NOT AUTHORISED by the UN’s Resolution 1973. And everyone involved in the Libya intervention KNEW that. NATO officials knew that. Sarkozy and the French knew that. David Cameron and his British officials knew that. Hillary Clinton and the US State Department knew that. Obama knew that.


Hillary Clinton and Nicolas Sarkosy
(AP Photo/Francois Mori)


And anyone who was paying attention knew that too.

So please: try to justify the Libya intervention in whichever ways you want and let’s argue about it – but don’t keep playing the “It was legal” card or citing the UN Resolution as the end of the argument.

And stop saying “but Gaddafi was going to massacre people in Benghazi” – no, he wasn’t. He at no point threatened to harm civilians in Benghazi – he had only ever threatened the Al-Qaeda militias, armed gangs and rebels who had taken over that city: and his speech was deliberately taken out of context by political and mass media conspirators who presented it to look like they wanted it to look.

For the record, it’s more or less the same game that is currently being played in regard to Aleppo in Syria.

NATO also explicitly violated the terms of Security Council resolutions by the repeated supply of arms to the rebels (by France and Qatar initially and then others) in what was an obvious breach of the arms embargo demanded by the Security Council in Articles 9, 10 and 11 of Resolution 1970 and again reaffirmed in Articles 13, 14 and 15 of Resolution 1973.

The UN Resolution itself was extremely suspect anyway; conducted very quickly, with no fact-finding missions to Libya, no verification of information, and without a vote ever having been conducted. It was a sham dominated by the permanent members of the Security Council.

The resolution passed by the UN Security Council on 17th March authorized member states “to take all necessary measures… to protect civilians and civilian populated areas”; but let’s cut through the jargon: what this really meant was ‘all necessary measures… to protect rebel-held areas’ (as there were no civilians being threatened by the Libyan state; and the entire assault on Gaddafi’s forces in Benghazi was an operation to protect Al-Qaeda and the other armed rebels).

Hugh Roberts, former director of the International Crisis Group’s North Africa Project, summed up the strategy perfectly when he wrote that ‘By inserting ‘all necessary measures’ into the resolution, London, Paris and Washington licensed themselves, with NATO as their proxy, to do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted in the full knowledge that they would never be held to account, since as permanent veto-holding members of the Security Council they are above all laws.’

 Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli, 2011 

Just as Gaddafi himself had said in his 2009 address to the UN General Assembly, the General Assembly itself was shown again to be worthless, under the dictatorial power of the Security Council (which Gaddafi had once called the “World Terrorism Council”).

Three years later the Americans, the British and the French began bombing Libyan cities, and were soon joined by a coalition of forty nations.

The basis for all of this? Well, in the first instance it all rested on the undocumented, unproven allegations provided by a group of Non-Governmental Organisations (mostly French) that insisted Gaddafi and the Libyan regime was attacking its own civilians: no evidence was ever provided – it was just words on paper. And the UN never investigated.

The UN Resolution was a complete farce, demonstrating how worthless principles or rules are if they can be so easily violated by those implementing them.

But even that Resolution, as wrong-headed and ill-informed as it was, was just a trick by which the conspirators could use the UN to justify getting their hand more firmly and officially into the Libyan conflict (having already been covertly involved from the beginning): and once they got their hand in, they dismissed the actual terms of the Resolution entirely and proceeded to do their own thing – which consisted, essentially, of destroying a country, overthrowing a state and acting as the air-force for Al-Qaeda and other jihadist gangs to take over.

This is the ultimate irony that everyone has missed: and that most Western politicians have tried to hide and most journalists and media groups have chosen to ignore – that it wasn’t Gaddafi or Libya that was violating international law, but NATO and the Western governments.

They weren’t just violating international law, but violating the United Nations and the very Resolution that they keep citing as the *justification* for their actions.

The resolution was adopted under ‘Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter’. The UN Charter’s prohibition of member states of the UN attacking other UN member states is central to the purpose for which the UN was founded in the wake of World War II: to prevent war, in other words. The Nuremberg Trials’ concept of a crime against peace is “starting or waging a war against the territorial integrity, political independence or sovereignty of a state”. 

In an irony of ironies, this is exactly what the UN now authorised NATO to *do* in Libya, yet Chapter VII was used to justify the intervention, when, as Gaddafi had pointed out, no member-state’s independence or sovereignty had been threatened by the Libyan government.

Indeed the Libyan government had threatened no one but the armed rebels who had captured Benghazi: it was now NATO that was waging war on a ‘sovereign, independent’ nation and it was therefore NATO that was in violation of the UN Charter.

 Libya's Mummar Gaddafi says Western media lying about situation in Libya 

The Libyan government, on the other hand, had at no point in the crisis violated any international law or threatened any interests of other countries.

Some governments saw the inherent problems with the resolution, though very few were willing to speak out against the dictatorship of the Security Council’s permanent members. India abstained because it correctly perceived the resolution as being based on uncertain information (or lack of “credible information on the situation on the ground in Libya”). Brazil too abstained, “concerned about the possibility that the use of military force, as called for in paragraph 4 of today’s resolution, could change that narrative in ways that may have serious repercussions for the situation in Libya and beyond.”

President Cristina Kirchner of Argentina outright denounced the coalition attacks in Libya, saying, “When you consider that these so-called civilised countries are trying to solve problems by dropping bombs, it makes me proud to be South American.”

But the point here is to put to rest this constant nonsense about the ‘legality’ of the intervention and the UN Resolution. It was all sleight of hand.

And the original, stated purpose of the intervention – specifically that it was a ‘humanitarian’ operation to protect civilians – was always a nonsense. The mission was regime-change, end of story.

If it had been a humanitarian operation to protect civilians, it would’ve stopped after the attack on Benghazi in March – after which a ceasefire or negotiations could’ve been pursued. Gaddafi and his officials had, for that matter, complied with the ceasefire request (as stated in the UN Resolution) more or less immediately: but NATO and the Triumvirate of France, Britain and the United States instead decided to supply arms and millions of dollars to the rebels instead and soon after begin months of bombing.

And, most ironically, their idea of ‘protecting civilians’ consisted in large part of arming and funding terrorists and gangs to terrorise those civilians.

So, to reiterate: continue to argue about Libya if you want – but please don’t cite the UN Resolution or international law as the basis for justifying the operation.


'The Libya Conspiracy' ebook cover
Download ‘THE LIBYA CONSPIRACY’ here. Or read it in Google Docs here.

S. Awan

Independent journalist. Pariah. Believer in human rights, human dignity and liberty. Musician. Substandard Jedi. All-round failure. And future ghost.


  1. Well-done! You make some excellent points here! I didn’t know about the Kirchner statement, nor that of Morales. I couldn’t agree with them more. –Paul

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