Recognition of Libyan Rebels and the Birth and Death of Nations


soudan sud.jpgFor over 350 years, since the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, the international system has been fundamentally international, between nations. There are now over 190 countries in the world, and although non-state actors such as multinational corporations, media, armed groups, individuals like Bill Gates and supranational bodies such as the European Union and the United Nations are more and more players in the system, the basis of the world system remains the state, the highest legitimate control of violence.

All of this is fine, and what lawyers call the sovereign system. Besides the obvious challenges to this system by globalization and the actors below and above the state already mentioned, one of the system's inherent faults is its inability to deal with the birth and death of nations and recognition of authority within states. We congratulate the new state of South Sudan for coming into existence through a referendum and universally accepted legal process. It has become a member of the United Nations.

But what about Kosovo? The Western Sahara? Abkhazia? South Ossetia? These entities are recognized by certain countries, but not all. And now, the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) has been recognized by over 30 countries, NATO and the Arab League as the "legitimate authority" of the country. The entire international contact group co-ordinating policy on the crisis has given its benediction. The decision will allow certain countries to free up Libyan assets to the NTC, such as the United States with an estimated $30 billion held by American banks. The TNC leadership was "jubilant," it was reported by the Independent newspaper, "calling for more money to aid them in their push towards Tripoli".

There are several criteria for state recognition, including recognition by major powers. But the recognition of a government is even more political. Here is a clear example, unlike the South Sudan or even the Ivory Coast, where some major powers have decided to recognize a government for purely political reasons with little legal basis. Should we accept the justification that Colonel Gaddafi is under indictment? So is the ruler of Sudan.

Who are these people behind the NTC? And on what basis have they become "the legitimate authority" of the country? There has been no election, no referendum, and no selection process beyond a certain group deciding recognition. But, as I have already noted, the international system has great difficulty with the birth and death of nations and the recognition of legitimate authority within countries.

July 20, 2011


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  • If there is one lesson to be learnt from Swiss history, it is that any community striving to become a nation or to remain one should steadfastly enforce following principle: "Do not meddle with anyone's business and do not allow anyone to meddle into your own."
    Seen along those lines, it is plain that NATO's intervention in Libyan affairs is totally out of place. The purpose is plain, it is meant to provide the big multinational oil companies with new fields of activity. the whole affair is as phony as a 3-dollar bill.
    We see a Highly Honourable Mr. Sarkozy receiving the despicable bugger Gaddhafi like a head of State, Mr Gaddhafi receiving high ranking French officials in his majestic tent in Paris, Mr. Berlusconi embrassing warmly Mr. Gaddhafi, Son Hannibal Gaddhafi driving at 120 km/h down the Champs Elysées and the French cops looking the other way, among other things. And now Mr. Sarkozy, who even sent high ranking officials to Dictator Ben Ali of Tunisia, just before the uprising there, finds Mr. Gaddhafi a monster, a devil incarnate.
    Mr D. Rumsfeld shaking hands cordially with the monster Saddam Hussein, just before the Americans destroyed Iraq and were the cause of untold misery there.
    And on and on like this, all over Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    70% of the German population is opposed to a German intervention in Afghanistan, but the German government is sending troops there, in order to bring Democracy.... Ain't that a splendid joke ......
    The whole comedy is just a cynical power play among the powers that be: Banks, oils companies, the military-industrial establishments, Governments of large countries and the lke. It has nothing with human rights or morals or even any kind of far sighted policy.

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