Thursday 24 March 2011


One of our doctoral students is Mario Silva. In his spare time, when he is not working on his thesis, he is a member of the Canadian Parliament. Mario's research is on 'failed states'. He made a very fine statement in the Canadian House of Commons on Tuesday. I reproduce it in full:
Mr. Speaker, over the course of past few weeks the people of Libya and many other states in Africa and the Middle East have taken to the streets in protest.
People are demanding respect for their fundamental human rights as enshrined in The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  This was the first international pronouncement of what we have come to know as the human rights norm.  It establishes freedom, justice, peace and the inherent dignity and equality of all human beings as inalienable rights.
The subsequent International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights further enhanced the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom. It is these Charters, Covenants and other International Treaties that establish the foundation for a state’s responsibilities to its citizens.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for agreeing to such an important debate on Libya and for the world  community for hearing and responding to the cries of the Libyan people.  Colonel Gaddafi and his regime have brought the full might of their armed forces to bear on the Libyan people.  The regime’s soldiers have been backed up by mercenaries who seek to brutally crush the resistance.
In February the UN Security Council agreed to Resolution 1970.  This condemned Gaddafi’s actions.  It imposed a travel ban and assets freezes on those at the top of his regime.  It demanded an end to the violence, access for international human rights monitors and the lifting of restrictions on the media, and vitally it referred the situation in Libya to the International Criminal Court so that its leaders will hopefully one day face the justice they deserve.  Gaddafi ignored the demands of the UN Security Council Resolution that he stop the violence against the Libyan people.  His forces have attacked peaceful protesters and are now preparing for a violent assault on the main rebel city, Benghazi.
Gaddafi has publicly promised that every home will be searched and that there will be no mercy and no pity shown.   Human Rights Watch has catalogued the appalling human rights abuses that are being committed in Tripoli.
The Transitional National Council was the first to call for protection from air attacks through a no-fly zone. This request was followed by the Arab League.
On March 17, the UN Security Council acting under Chapter VII and VIII adopted resolution 1973 by a vote of 10 in favour to none against, with 5 abstentions.  The resolution demands the immediate establishment of a ceasefire with a complete end to the violence and all attacks against Libyan civilians.  It establishes a ban on all flights in the airspace over Libya in order to help protect these civilians, and it authorises member states to take, and I quote, “all necessary measures to enforce compliance with the ban”. Crucially, it states in Paragraph 4: “it authorises member states acting nationally or through regional organisations or arrangements and acting in co-operation with the Secretary General to take all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack, including Benghazi.”
The Council authorized Member States, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan soil.
Resolution 1973 provides legal authority for the international community to use force to protect civilians.
It further demanded that Libyan authorities comply with their obligations under international law and take all measures to protect civilians and meet their basic needs as well as ensuring the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian assistance.The Foreign Minister of France, Alain Juppé, said “the situation on the ground is more alarming than ever, marked by the violent re-conquest of cities that have been released”.
The Security Council could not stand by and “let the warmongers flout international legality.”  The world was experiencing “a wave of great revolutions that would change the course of history,” but the will of the Libyan people had been “trampled under the feet of the Qadhafi regime.”
Mr Speaker, the resolution both authorises and sets the limits of the international community’s actions and that of Canada.  It specifically excludes an occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory.
Now that the UN Security Council has reached its decision there is a responsibility for Canada to act with other nations.
The Security Council has adopted Resolution 1973 as a measure to maintain or restore international peace and security under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter and as the Member of Parliament for Davenport I am pleased that the overall will of this House is to support this UN Security Council resolution
Mr. Speaker, States have a responsibility to deliver the political goods – security, health and education, good governance and the rule of law.  Libya has essentially been outlawed by the international community as a failed state for being no longer willing or able to carry out these functions as well as for the massacring its own people.
Libya has refused to meet a specific set of conditions, has refused to respect human rights and adhere to the UN Security Council resolution and has fallen into failed state status.The UN Security Council in resolution 1973 has again confirmed the doctrine that sovereignty is a right that comes with responsibility. No state can have sovereignty in the absence of responsibility and the Doctrine of Responsibility to Protect is always applicable.  The Westphalia definition of state sovereignty no longer applies.
Afghanistan and Somalia have demonstrated the danger of ignoring failing or failed states.   State failure not only presents considerable challenges for those states in decline or collapse, but also for the international system as a whole.  Humanitarian challenges arise from the fact that state failure is both fuelled and created by overwhelming human need and refugee crises.   We all remember too well the lessons learned from acts of genocide in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and  Kosovo.Libya’s dictator Gadhafi is unwilling to safeguard the minimal civil conditions of peace, order and security for the Libyan people.  He has brought war, anarchy and destruction upon the Libyan people and has lost the legitimacy of governance both domestically and internationally. Under international law, Libya has an obligation to protect their citizens and ensure their human rights are secure.  If it fails, and under the new doctrine of the responsibility to protect, the UN will act in demanding an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians which it said might constitute “crimes against humanity”, the Security Council has demonstrated that these actions are no longer tolerable.

For more, here is Mario Silva's website.

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