The Legality of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Intervention in Libya

By Jeffrey Morton and Paola Hernandez Ramos.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences: Annual Review

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: December 26, 2015 $US5.00

On 19 March 2011, NATO powers initiated an aerial military campaign in Libya in response to human rights violations associated with the Libyan civil war. For more than seven months, NATO powers and their allies enforced a UN Security Council no-fly zone over Libya by attacking the ground forces of Muammar Gaddafi. The campaign ended on the 31st of October, 2011, in the aftermath of the toppling and death of Gaddafi. This paper analyzes the intervention from an
international law perspective. We conclude that despite efforts to expand the parameters established by the United Nations Charter on the use of force, most notably the doctrines of humanitarian intervention and Responsibility to Protect (R2P), prevailing international law does not allow for extra-Charter intervention. Since the relevant Security Council resolutions did not authorize intervention for purposes other than to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civilian populations, the 2011 NATO intervention was not legal. Implications of the NATO intervention in Libya for the further development of the international law of war are also considered.

Keywords: Libya, Arab Spring, Jus ad Bellum, NATO, International Law, United Nations

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences: Annual Review, Volume 10, pp.21-32. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: December 26, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 541.973KB)), ISSN: ISSN 1833-1882.

Jeffrey Morton

Professor, Department of Political Science, Florida Atlantic University, Lake Worth, Florida, USA

Jeffrey S. Morton is a Professor of International Law and Politics in the Department of Political Science at Florida Atlantic University and a Fellow at the Foreign Policy Association. His primary area of scholarly endeavor is the laws of armed conflict.

Paola Hernandez Ramos

Graduate Student, Political Science, Florida Atlantic University, Delray Beach, Florida, USA

Paola M. Hernandez-Ramos is currently a Masters of Arts Political Science student at Florida Atlantic University and expects to complete her studies by December 2015. Her primary focus is International Law. Ms. Hernandez-Ramos is also active within Florida Atlantic University serving as Senior Advisor to the school’s award winning Diplomacy Program and as Treasurer of the Graduate Political Science Organization.