Laura Davidescu, euronews: With the no-fly zone in place over Libya, and Western leaders insisting that the campaign is not about ousting Colonel Gaddafi, many ask what political results, if any, can the current military intervention yield?
Louise Arbour, President of the International Crisis Group is the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
euronews: Louise Arbour, in your opinion, the no-fly zone is not the best course of action the International Community could have taken in Libya. Why not?
Louise Arbour: “The Security Council focused very specifically on protection of civilians and authorized all necessary measures, including, but not limited to a no-flight zone to insure the protection of civilians.
Now this resolution, I think contains many many ambiguities and I think we’re going to see that played out as the military operations continue to unfold.”
euronews: Before the adoption of the Resolution 1973, your organization has called for a different approach, a diplomatic one, comprising a ceasefire, dispatching a peacekeeping force and initiating dialogue.
But was Gaddafi ever a dialogue partner? Could he have been one?
Louise Arbour: “I think to look exclusively at the military options is a form of escalation that is not prudent. The African Union had already launched a negotiation initative, dispatched a mission, the secretary general has a special envoy so I think diplomatic initiatives have to continue to be pursued. First to cease all combat operations and to try to find a form of accomodation that would bring democratic space into Libya.”
euronews: Yes but did the international community have the choice with Colonel Gaddafi threatening civilian populations?
Louise Arbour: “When a country leader states unequivocally that he will show no mercy on his own people, those who have sided with the rebels, there is obviously a lot of cause for a concern. Now the question, though, is, now the debate: is it just a no-fly zone or a regime change?”
euronews: You believe that the no-fly zone could compromise and divide the anti-Gaddafi coalition. What are your concerns with respect to this?
Louise Arbour: “The perception of a Western, even a legal Security Council approved military operation transforms the conflict from a national insurgency into an international war opposing the West to Libyans. And in the same way, even more troubling is a possibility that this could lead to a de facto splitting of Libya between the east, which will be controlled and supported by the rebels and the west part of the country, with Tripoli at the centre, that will continue to be under Gaddafi’s control. And this could lead to a very prolonged and painful stalemate.