Posts Tagged ‘NATO’

It has been suggested that egalitarian state-building, the facilitation of security and justice and the invitation of trade opportunities are the fundamental factors needed to build peace in the new Libya, but at the heart of every peacebuilding process is communication – moving forward through reconciliation, negotiation and the acceptance of responsibility for ones own actions.

NATO action in Libya was founded on the UN initiative of the Responsibility to Protect (RtP) and affirmed in Resolution 1973, authorizing ‘all necessary means’ to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas. But after it’s bombing campaign there last year 72 civilians were killed including many women and children. David Mepham from Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated in a BBC Radio 4 interview yesterday that “NATO seems to be in denial about these civilian deaths.”

HRW is asking that NATO take responsibility for their actions through providing an inquiry into the deaths and through compensation to the families of those who died. However, according to the BBC; “NATO insists it took unprecedented care to minimise civilian casualties” and “it argues that it cannot take responsibility because it has had no presence on the ground to confirm the deaths.” Ironic, given that NATO launched its mission on the premise of a responsibility to protect and failed. It seems obvious that an inquiry should proceed, not only because of NATO’s responsibility to the families of the victims, but also because of a responsibility to ensure the protection of civilians in future bombardments.  How can this be achieved without a clear understanding of the mistakes made in any given campaign including Libya’s? Is this not accountability: the same accountability that no organisation is exempt from these days however big or small?

What stands out for me is that the ‘West’ is a formidable voice for democracy and human rights and therefore its agents should be exemplars in justice and due process. NATO had a responsibility to protect and has a responsibility to honour the values that it alleges to represent. Especially as the act of taking responsibility and communicating it is so clearly important for the peacebuilding process. After all, how can egalitarian state-building, security, justice and European trade opportunities happen in Libya without reconciliation, trust and a clean slate for everyone?

But this also begs another question about an outlet for the post-conflict voice for all those in Libya affected by the crisis – that there must be one is a given, but finding a positive outlet is the challenge Libya faces. In recent conflicts the internet has been a host to various post-conflict story repositories offering a voice to those who have been directly affected by crisis. Examples of citizen journalism in the aftermath of conflict can be found in the likes of Groundviews (an online magazine for reporting on the Sri Lankan crisis), the Rwanda Genocide Archive and the Meroreport (an online magazine for reporting on conflict in Nepal) to name only a few. In addition to this format, I would be interested to see how some of the new technologies used for crisis response such as Frontline SMS and Ushahidi could be used to map the stories of the conflict in Libya.

For further reading:

From spring into summer: key peacebuilding actions for Libya, Erwin Van Veen

Security Council Approves ‘No Fly-Zone’ over Libya

Unacknowledged Deaths: Civilian Casualties in NATO’s Air Campaign in Libya

See also:

USIP Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

ICT in Conflict & Disaster response and Peacebuilding Crowdmap