Foreign Policy Blogs

The African Union’s Indifference on Libya

Yes, you heard it right, the AU’s Peace and Security Council reportedly failed on Monday to agree on a common position on Libya. Instead the body has deferred the decision to a Friday meeting of the AU’s heads of states’ leadership meeting. Frankly, I am not surprised and do not expect the 15 heads of states who sit on the body to come up with a unified position on the Libyan crisis. Since the start of this conflict in early February of this year, what we have seen from the continent’s top body is nothing but a posture of indifference, ambiguity and indecisiveness. Apparently, condemning and holding accountable one of their own matters more than ordinary African people. In fact, this is the fundamental problem with the AU: in situations of conflict/crisis of democracy on the continent, they tend to side more with the heads of state than with the ordinary people… the suffering masses. Is this African Union for the heads of states or for the African people? That question needs to be answered if the body wants to make a qualitative impact on the continent politically, socially and economically.

The truth is that had the continent’s top body pronounced its position unequivocally on Libya right from the start of the crisis, just as many Western and Arab bodies did, the suffering and the loss of innocent lives would have been prevented. Instead the AU insists on sticking to a rather vague roadmap to peace without really providing details of the concrete steps toward that political settlement.

Apparently the reason why the AU could not reach an agreement on Libya this time around is “the fact that Libya funded a major part of the AU’s budget and the bloc feels beholden to [Ghadafi].” But the other unspoken reason—let’s face it—is the fear that most of them [heads of state of member nations] will follow the same fate since many of these leaders are dictators in their own countries.

Here is a situation where it is a clear victory against a brutal dictatorship… a situation where it is clear that the majority of Libyan citizens in the streets of Libyan cities are greeting rebels (citizen-rebels, I should say) with shouts of “Allahu akbar,” or God is great. And here is a situation where rebels are in control of most Libyan cities with Western and Arab nations recognizing the rebels’ transitional authority as Libya’s legitimate government, yet the AU, and most African countries remain mute. What would move the AU and African countries to side with the ordinary African people?

Whatever the misgivings about the intervention in Libya, now is the time for the AU and African countries in general to accept that the Ghadafi era is gone. And now is the time for the continental body to step up and take leadership as the Libyan conflict enters a dangerous stage.

  • DM

    RE: Libya, Give Peace A Chance

    United, you stand; Divided you fall, all of you. So whatever you decide, I am hoping that the People of Africa stand firmly together. It is the People of Libya who must decide their own future, their own destiny, not the United Nations, not the African Union; but the People of Libya must do this. Until that time, unfortunately, Libya has no government and no leader.

    GREATNESS should be measured not by the amount of power that we have, but what we do with the power that we do hold.

    On Sunday August 28 2011, Dr. Martin Luther King will be honored in Washington DC, USA, for his role in the struggle for freedom, equality, and justice for all. Despite being descendant of slaves; Despite being beaten, stabbed, jailed, and eventually assassinated, Dr. King never aspired to overthrow the U.S. Government; Dr. King always called for PEACE; provided people HOPE; and always stood firmly for justice and equality for all people.

    This is The Continent of Africa’s Moment. The Future of The Great Continent of Africa is now in your hands. I urge the People of Africa to continue to stand up, speak the complete truth and lead the way; to stand firmly together for freedom, peace, and justice for all; to call for a ceasefire in Libya by all parties; and a peaceful resolution for the continent, the country, and for the people of Libya.

    Remembering Who We Are: Today, United Nations should not be supporting any VIOLENT path toward peace and freedom. This is a horrible precedent that the peacekeeping organization for the world community has set; it is unsustainable, and must be corrected.

    I vehemently oppose the United Nations Role in this VIOLENT overthrow of the Libyan government or any government. What’s really troubling is that very little diplomacy was used to find a peaceful resolution for the People of Libya.

    VIOLENCE by the government or by the people is VIOLENCE. In fact, violence only begets more violence. Hence, I am losing hope that we can or will restore peace in the near future if we do not stop this madness.

    First, let me be clear. I SALUTE the People of Libya and ALL who have democratic aspirations and sweet liberty; for having the courage to fight for a better life; however, violence is not the answer. VIOLENCE is not the answer and the United Nations, a peacekeeping organization for the world community, should not be supporting any VIOLENT path toward democracy and freedom.

    What we all must remember is that “In our struggle for our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds ourselves” (mlk)

    Second, let’s be honest: If this is really about freedom and democracy in Libya, who elected NTC? If we are truly trying to restore peace and stability in Libya, why did the NTC refuse to negotiate a peaceful resolution to this deadly conflict? And why is NATO, the world superpowers, providing cover so ARMED groups can advance on government forces? If this is not abuse of the use of the military forces of the world superpowers, it should be.
    It is clear that NATO exceeded its powers granted by the United Nations resolution.

    How can the People on the Continent of Africa, Members of the United Nations or any people of goodwill be satisfied with this DEVASTATING destruction of Libya’s infrastructure; this VIOLENT overthrow of the Libyan government; and this KILLING of innocent men, women, and children in our name. How can we do this?

    On June 7, during the daylight, THIRTY bombs were dropped on Tripoli. On June 20, one 4-year and two 6-year children were killed by these NATO airstrikes. These bombs and missiles that are being fired upon Libya have the same terrorizing effect on all the People of Libya, However, these acts of terror are now being coordiInstead by the United Nations. So instead of seeking a peaceful political resolution in Libya, here we are witnessing another blood thirsty conflict in another impoverished country in the Middle East. The United Nations can do better. The United Nations must do better.

    After World War II, world leaders established checks and balances precisely so no one country, person or group would abuse its military or political power ever again. In 1945, the United Nations was established primarily to promote peace and security; to solve humanitarian problems; promote fundamental freedoms and respect for human rights.

    In Libya, where are the checks and balance of military force by the world superpowers? We have the military forces of the world superpowers dropping bombs on side of the conflict; and providing weapons and cover for the opposing to advance. How is this about restoring peace and stability in Libya.

    This conflict in Libya further reveals the HYPOCRISY in what we say we are and what we actually represent. Everyone knows that if a rebel groups attempts to overthrow the U.S., UK, France, or other nations, the rebels would be in prison or dead. Look at Great Britain’s response to the recent riots in their country. Look at the response by the United Nations.

    What the UN and NATO are doing in Libya is just as BARBARIC; just as ruthless; just as cold-blooded as anything that Gaddafi is doing; however, much more CIVILITY is expected from the United Nations and these leaders of the free world.

    Just look at what is happening now in Libya: Instead of seeking a peaceful political resolution, for SIX MONTHS now, the military forces of the worlds SUPERPOWER have gone from launching thousands of missile airstrikes, to sinking Libyan sea vessels, dropping 2,000-lb bunker busting bombs, and military attack helicopters all on this ONE impoverished country in North Africa; yet, we can count on one hand the UN efforts to restore peace and stability in Libya. In the meantime, INNOCENT people have had to flee Libya or trapped between NATO airstrikes and the fighting between Gaddafi and Rebel forces. If we placed this much effort and resources in seeking PEACEFUL resolution in Libya, this conflict could have been resolved months ago.

    Restoring Credibility, Integrity, and Civility: Initially, the primary goal of the United Nations Mission in Libya was for a noble cause which was to halt the violence, to provide humanitarian aid and protect the Libyan people. Clearly, this was a bait and switch.

    The United Nations Security Council Members would have never passed UN Resolution 1973 (especially South Africa, Gabon, and Nigeria) if they realized that it would involve this VIOLENT overthrow of the Libyan government; or that these VIOLENT attacks would continue until Gaddafi is KILLED or leaves Libya, the country where he was born and raised. In the meantime, innocent citizens have been trapped between these NATO airstrikes and this fighting between Gaddafi and rebel forces. If the world community is not ashamed about what is happening in Libya, we surely should be.

    The Role of The United Nations. The world community must rethink the role of the United Nations and NATO for the 21st Century. What kind of peacekeeping organization has the United Nations become that would support this VIOLENT overthrow of the Libyan Government or any government. What happened to resolving conflicts with peace talks, in the boardroom, in the courtroom, or at the ballot box. Instead of mediating a peaceful resolution, what kind of peacekeeping organization for the world community takes sides with so one group of the conflicting parties? We need diplomacy, not all these wars and more wars.

    Since February, Gaddafi has been appealing for HELP from the world community to negotiate an end to this violence, only to be told “Leave Libya”, the country where he was born and raised. At the same time, the UN placed a travel ban against the government leaders prohibiting them from leaving Libya; and NATO is providing military cover so the Libyan Opposition can advance and overthrow the government.

    The Libyan opposition may have a “just” cause but VIOLENCE is not the answer. Violence only begets more violence; and the United Nations should not be endorsing any VIOLENT path toward freedom and democracy.

    Despite the billions of tax dollars and all the efforts to help the people of Libya, what is really troubling is that Members of the NTC may also be charged with war crimes, never wanted to compromise, and never wanted to negotiate a peaceful end to this deadly conflict. Just look how BOTH the Gaddafi and Rebel forces allegedly treated the rape victim.

    This is 2011. The 21st Century, not 7th Century B.C. Plotting to take cities by FORCE, ousting leaders, assassinating world leaders, firing on people from fighter jets, in hospitals or religious institutions do not accurately represent the democratic process; and it is SHAMEFUL for anyone, anywhere, to say otherwise.

    ALL The People of Libya must determine their own destiny, their own future; not the Government, not the Opposition Groups, not the United Nations, and not the African Union. The People of Libya must do this. ALL the People of Libya.

    A Democratic Society cannot survive on “Its my way or the highway” ideology.
    BOTH the Government and the Opposition Groups should be encouraged to CEASEFIRE immediately; and seek a peaceful resolution for the country, for the people of Libya. Both should see some benefit. Both should make some sacrifices.

    PROCESS, PROCESS, PROCESS. The focus must be on the process: Protecting and Respecting Human Rights, Following Nonviolent Practices, Peaceful Protests, Free and Fair Elections, Establishing Just Laws, Electing People to Represent one’s interest and values, Resolving disputes in the courtroom, the boardroom, or the ballot box; not taking cities by force, ousting leaders from office, assassinating world leaders, firing on the population from fighter jets, in hospitals or religious institutions.

    Every crisis has both its dangers and opportunities. It can either spell our salvation or doom. All of the people of the world, without regard to political system, will have to discover a way to live in peace and harmony.

    How we deal with this crucial issues will determine our moral health as individuals, our cultural health as a region, our political health as a nation, and our prestige as leaders of the free world (mlk)

    Peace Be With You And Around The World

  • ndumba J. kamwanyah

    It is important to note that Ghadafi started calling for a peaceful negotiation only when he was pushed against the wall. His initial intentions were clear: To destroy the rebellion by any means necessary.


Ndumba J. Kamwanyah
Ndumba J. Kamwanyah

Ndumba Jonnah Kamwanyah, a native of Namibia in Southern Africa, is an independent consultant providing trusted advice and capacity building through training, research, and social impact analysis to customers around the world. Mos recently Ndumba returned from a consulting assignment in Liberia in support of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
In his recent previous life Ndumba taught (as an Adjunct Professor) traditional justice and indigenous African political institutions in sub-Saharan Africa at the Rhode Island College-Anthropology Department.

He is very passionate about democracy development and peace-building, and considers himself as a street researcher interested in the politics of everyday life.
Twitter: NdumbaKamwanyah