Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Africa Seminar: NATO Intervention in Libya: A Humanitarian Success?

Western media and politicians typically praise NATO’s 2011 intervention in Libya as a humanitarian success for averting a bloodbath and helping replace the dictatorial regime of Muammar Qaddafi with a transitional council pledged to democracy.

Based on this ostensible success, experts cite Libya as a model for implementing the emerging international norm of the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P). Before embracing such conclusions, however, it is important to conduct a more rigorous assessment of the intervention’s impact. In this lecture, Prof. Alan J. Kuperman compares the actual outcome in Libya to the likely outcome without intervention, based on the best available documentary evidence. He reaches the disturbing but unavoidable conclusion that NATO intervention significantly exacerbated the duration and human toll of violence in Libya. Accordingly, Kuperman concludes with lessons to help ensure that any future humanitarian intervention does more good than harm.

Alan J. Kuperman is Associate Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, where he teaches courses in global policy studies and leads a Pentagon-funded project on Constitutional Design and Conflict Management in Africa.

He is author of The Limits of Humanitarian Intervention: Genocide in Rwanda (Brookings, 2001) and co-editor of Gambling on Humanitarian Intervention: Moral Hazard, Rebellion, and Civil War (Routledge, 2006). In 2009-2010, he was awarded a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. A recent book chapter is “Humanitarian Intervention,” in International Politics: Enduring Concepts and Contemporary Issues, 10th edition, eds. Art and Jervis (Longman, 2010). He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The seminar is organised as a cooperation between the Centre of African Studies and the Royal Danish Defence College’s Africa and Future Conflicts Program.

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