Humanitarian Intervention in Libya: Fighting for Human Rights or for Regime Change?

Lubura-Winchester, Borjana
Jones, Reece
Geography and Environment
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2013]
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In the case of Libya, the ruler, Qaddafi, had an estranged relationship with the rest of the international community, which can be argued to have influenced the decision to intervene. Also, the spatial location of Libya, with its natural resources, needs to be closely looked at in order to better understand the nature of the decision to intervene. Further, this relationship contributes to the public approval of Libya by using the geopolitical language of a need for humanitarian intervention in the bounded territory of the nation state and the positive narrative of helping the innocent people within that state to gain their freedom. At the same time, narratives were created that showed Qaddafi as a ruthless leader, and a person that must leave the country for the benefit of the Libyan people to free themselves from tyranny and become a democratic state. My thesis is a discourse analysis of these narratives, found in government statements, which were used to justify the decision to intervene. The specific focus of my analysis is on the statements made by the three permanent UN members (United States, United Kingdom, and France) because they have played a major role in the decision making process. An analysis of these statements provides a better understanding of why the Libyan conflict required humanitarian intervention, and why other more prominent cases of human rights violations such as those in Yemen, Bahrain, Sudan and Syria, did not qualify for intervention. Through a combination of linguistic analysis and critical discourse analysis, I analyze the power of social ideologies in shaping language to support a particular representation to the public (Fairclough, 1992). In this case, my focus is on how the discourse for the necessity of humanitarian intervention in Libya was created and what impact the discourse had on the public. This data will answer three sets of interrelated research question(s): 1) What are the specific thresholds for military intervention in the United Nations Charter, the Genocide Conventions, and the Responsibility to Protect? Are there differences in the standards for intervention between these documents? 2) What arguments did the United States, the United Kingdom, and France make leading up to and during the debate? Were there differences between these three permanent members of the UN Security Council? 3) What were the specific conditions in Libya that justified the Humanitarian Intervention? Were they the same as the thresholds identified above? Do these thresholds differ from other examples of unrest in the region? In order to answer these questions, it is necessary to look at the situation in Libya through the prism of a critical geopolitics theory. This theory looks at the connection between places, people and power and how that connection influences both the internal politics of a country and the external politics of the international community.
MA University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 83–92).
Libya, United Nations, genocide convention, intervention, humanitarian intervention
iv, 92 leaves
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Theses for the degree of Master of Arts (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Geography.
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