Friday, 18 March 2011

I agree with David - Cameron & Owen

The United Nations have voted to enforce a No Fly Zone above Libya. Pardon the language, but about bloody time too.

I blogged here, 19 days ago of my pride in the UN for agreeing significant sanctions on the Libyan government. As I stated then, in the world of international diplomacy, progress if made at all, is usually slow and protracted.

Yet, despite this acceptance of the real-politik of the situation, I have become increasingly frustrated in recent days at the UN's hesitance to go a step further whilst in the meantime, Gadaffi's regime has systematically, aggressively and bloodily set about to regain the territory lost to their opposition over recent weeks.

The growing concern was simply this, would a tougher stance against Gadaffi have come too late? The discussions and considerations over the detail of a United Nations resolution only gave Gadaffi more time to undertake his aim of re-establishing control over the entirety of Libya.

UK, France & Lebanon lead the way
Thankfully however, we have an agreed resolution and the British Government deserve praise for leading the calls for a No Fly Zone from an early stage.

David Cameron has been forthright in his opinion on the need for further action against Gadaffi in order to protect innocent civilians on the ground. Indeed, he wasn't the only David who has been on the same wavelength as me on this issue. Weeks ago when the Libyan situation was beginning to deteriorate, Lord David Owen, who I rarely agree with on anything, was calling for such an imposition and I agreed with him at that very early stage.

But it was only the call, last weekend, by the Arab League of the imposition of a no fly zone that really gave the British, the French and the Lebanese who have led the calls for further action, the momentum with their Security Council colleagues. Because without the support of the local Arab community, there could be no realistic action in Libya by the international community without the risk of further inflaming regional tensions.

So with great relief, I watched the UN Security Council vote tonight for action. The detail of Resolution 1973 is as follows.

Resolution 1973
  • A call for an immediate cease-fire by Gadaffi and his forces
  • Authorises a No Fly Zone
  • Rules out a foreign occupation force
  • Tightens the arms embargo
  • A ban on flights leaving Libya

The final result saw 10 vote in favour, 0 vote against and 5 abstain.

The USA, UK, France, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Gabon, Lebanon, Nigeria, Colombia, South Africa and Portugal voted to approve the resolution, while China, Russia, Brazil, Germany and India abstained.

The fact that Russia and China were persuaded to merely abstain and to not wield their veto is quite an achievement in itself. The 10 votes in favour also surpassed the minimum of 9 out of the 15 required for a successful resolution to be passed.

So now we enter a new phase in this Libyan story. A new and of course potentially dangerous chapter for the pilots of the international allied aircraft that will soon take to the skies above Libya lies ahead of us but this is the reality of the situation.

UN Resurgent
The UN has in recent weeks, re-asserted itself as a credible international body of importance after years of being ignored and neglected by George Bush Jnr and this is to be greatly welcomed.

To live in and to be a part of a reasoned international community means that we must work together in times of urgency when innocent civilians are being attacked by their own government. We have a moral responsibility under the UN charter to act and I'm pleased that, better late than never, the international community has responded in the necessary way on this occasion.

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