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Qaddafi v. The World: What the UN, NATO, and the EU Could Mean for Resolution in Libya

Even with more and more of his people united against him, it’s unclear whether the popular uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi will end like those of Libya’s neighbors Tunisia and Egypt. Sanctions by international organizations has been touted as a solution to the ongoing violence in Libya. This is in contrast to the uprisings elsewhere in the region, where foreign intervention was kept to a minimum and mostly consisted of phone calls and pointed speeches. Here’s a breakdown of how key international organizations are responding to the situation and what they could do:

The United Nations.

Chapter 7 of the United Nations charter gives the organization power to “take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security.” The UN Security Council is scheduled to meet today in New York to discuss whether such action may be necessary in Libya’s case. The UN has conducted numerous peacekeeping missions over the years pursuant to this chapter, in places such as Rwanda, Somalia, and Sierra Leone. However, deploying a peacekeeping force at this time looks unlikely given that the violence, while horrific, is still new and not yet a full blown civil war. What’s most likely to come out of today’s draft session is a plan for economic and diplomatic sanctions.

NATO. NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has also called for a meeting today in Brussels to discuss the situation in Libya. NATO’s part in the process is likely to include humanitarian aid to Libya and not much more given how economically and military thin the organization is stretched.

The European Union. So far individual European nations have done their part to cut off Qaddafi’s monetary assets. Non-EU member Switzerland has already frozen Qaddafi’s account there and EU member Great Britain has promised to follow suit with the $32 billion in liquid assetsthe dictator has stashed in London and elsewhere. However, whether the bloc as a whole can agree on sanctions remains to be seen. Although the EU’s foreign policy head Catherine Ashton has mentioned wanting to coordinate bloc-wide action, no serious discussion has taken place at this time.

During these meetings and discussions the protests and violence will continue halfway around the world. The part that international organizations have to play in the upheaval is yet to be determined, but after today it’s unlikely that those opposing Qaddafi’s rule will have to continue their struggle alone.


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