Morally, no one can accept Gaddafi perpetuating acts of violence and the sacrifice of human life in Libya and elsewhere in the world. Nobody can allow him to establish a dictatorial father-son regime in Libya. For this reason, the Libyan struggle for liberation is a just war. Other countries should offer support that is honest, just and necessary for the achievement of that noble ideal. But this assistance should comply with the ethical norms underlying that achievement.
Ethical norms should be respected where it has been judged opportune to neutralise Gaddafi’s heavy artillery. Once these are destroyed, the route of a peaceful resolution to the conflict must be taken. But is this really possible? Could we honestly expect the Gadaffi camp, weakened by the aerial bombardments, to enter into negotiations with their adversaries?
Why did NATO really lead the bombing contrary to the UN’s resolution of 1973? Why was the African Union’s proposal for a peaceful resolution to the conflict rejected and the African Union gradually marginalised and silenced? Was it completely impossible to resolve the Libyan crisis without choosing a solution which cost the lives of civilians and combatants?
In my humble opinion, for the moment what is essential in this situation is that everybody draws lessons about the management of political conflicts. What is at stake is avoiding the resort to arms to resolve such conflicts, even when confronting dictatorial regimes. Citizens and leaders ought to face their responsibilities and be encouraged to take steps to avoid a repetition of Iraq, Somalia, etc.
Social ethics should open up to the problems which this debate raises. We must consider the questions of the authority of the international community and of the UN Security Council, as well as the rights and duties of countries and civil society with respect to their decisions. The problems of political rebellion and the installation of democracy in countries which have been led by dictatorial regimes for decades, should also be taken into consideration.
We must particularly reflect on the role of the international community in the management of political crises at the heart of a country and continent. Should this community wait for popular uprisings or to see its own economic interests in grave danger before getting involved in bringing about effective democratic changes in countries of the South? Arguably, the international community should not make its interests the sole criteria for maintaining relations with democratic and anti-democratic regimes, with opposition movements and with countries of the South…
But would we so easily find despotic leaders in these countries if their citizens shouldered their responsibilities better? Would there be such practices contrary to the development of their people? Doesn’t the citizens’ own lack of involvement often explain the intervention of the international community in their countries?
About Nathanaël Yaovi SOEDE
Professor of Christian Ethics at the Catholic University of West Africa, Abidjan, 1991-2009. Currently Head of Research and Publication Department at the “Centre de Formation Missionnaire d’Abidjan” and Executive President of the Association of African Theologians. Latest Publication: Sens et enjeux de l’éthique, Paris, L’harmattan, 2007.