NATO intervention in Libya is generally considered as the first full application of the during the UN summit in 2005 accepted principle "The repsonsibility to protect". This principle does imply that primary the state is responsible for the protection of its population. If the state can not or will not protect, the responsibility to protect will pass into the international community.
NATO enforced on the basis of
Security Council resolution 1973, a no-fly zone and an arms embargo to protect Libya's population. This lead finally till R2P and Regime Change, the end of the Gadaffi regime and a free Libya.

However, the NATO intervention did rise some marginal notes. There would be some talk of mission creep, of selectivity (why no intervention in Syria?) and of an intervention with oil as main reason.

The responsibility to protect (RtoP or R2P) is a norm or set of principles based on the idea that sovereignty is not a privilege, but a responsibility. RtoP focuses on preventing and halting four crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing, which it places under the generic umbrella term of, "Mass Atrocity Crimes". The responsibility to protect can be thought of as having three parts.
  • A State has a responsibility to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing (mass atrocities).
  • If the State is unable to protect its population on its own, the international community has a responsibility to assist the state by building its capacity. This can mean building early-warning capabilities, mediating conflicts between political parties, strengthening the security sector, mobilizing standby forces, and many other actions.
  • If a State is manifestly failing to protect its citizens from mass atrocities and peaceful measures are not working, the international community has the responsibility to intervene at first diplomatically, then more coercively, and as a last resort, with military force

In the international community RtoP is a norm, not a law. RtoP provides a framework for using tools that already exist (like mediation, early warning mechanisms, economic sanctioning, and chapter VII powers) to prevent mass atrocities. Civil society organizations, States, regional organizations, and international institutions all have a role to play in the operationalization of RtoP. The authority to employ the last resort and intervene militarily rests solely with United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly.

CFR's senior staff writer Jayshree Bajoria wrote 24 March 2011:

As international efforts to create a no-fly zone over Libya continued into their sixth day (CNN), debate has increased about a UN resolution effectively ordering Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi to end civilian killings and whether it's being applied properly in Libya. UN Security Council Resolution 1973 imposes a no-fly zone and authorizes member states to "take all necessary measures" to protect civilians under attack from the Qaddafi's government. The Resolution, on the situation in Libya, is a measure that was adopted on 17 March 2011 and was proposed by France, Lebanon, and the United Kingdom, formed the legal basis for military intervention in the Libyan civil war, demanding "an immediate ceasefire" and authorizing the international community to establish a no-fly zone and to use all means necessary short of foreign occupation to protect civilians.

Proponents of the measure have hailed it as a victory (TheStar) for the "Responsibility to Protect" (R2P) doctrine, while critics say is being used for political (Hindu), and not purely humanitarian, purposes. The R2P concept, unanimously adopted by UN member states in 2005 as part of an outcome document, emerged out of the international community's inability to halt genocides like those in Rwanda and Bosnia. According to the doctrine, if a state fails to protect its citizens from "genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity," it becomes the international community's responsibility to do so. As this Backgrounder notes, it includes use of military force by the international community if peaceful measures prove inadequate.

It is this provision that the doctrine's supporters point to for justifying the air strikes in Libya by some Western countries, including the United States. "The international military intervention (SMH) in Libya is not about bombing for democracy or Muammar Qaddafi's head," says Gareth Evans, a principal author of the R2P concept. "Legally, morally, politically, and militarily it has only one justification: protecting the country's people." R2P proponents also point to regional backing for the no-fly zone from organizations such as the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, stressing its international legitimacy.

But as governments in Yemen and Bahrain also turn violent against protesters and civilians, critics question the selective use of R2P for what the White House calls "limited humanitarian intervention (Yahoo), not war" in Libya. Marjorie Cohn, a law professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, argues the Obama administration is silent on Yemen and Bahrain (HuffingtonPost) because they are close U.S. allies. The White House has condemned the violence in those two countries too, urging their governments to show restraint, but any stronger action has yet to be taken. Others note more pressing cases for humanitarian intervention--from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the Ivory Coast--to question Libya as the R2P test case.

Yet CFR's Stewart Patrick says: "Just because the international community can't or chooses not to act everywhere doesn't mean that it shouldn't act anywhere when there is sufficient political will to be mobilized." Patrick admits geopolitical factors play a role in any intervention: "There is bound to be selectivity and inconsistency in the application of the responsibility to protect norm given the complexity of national interests at stake in U.S. calculations and in the calculations of other major powers involved in these situations."

James Traub argues that Libya presents the best case for intervention because unlike in Congo or Darfur, here "force could work (ForeignPolicy)." In Bahrain, Patrick says, the United States has other forms of leverage "which were absent in the Libyan case or were tried and found wanting."

However, CFR's Micah Zenko calls for caution. "The trouble is, although we are prepared to 'do something' and pull out the most impressive kit in the U.S. toolbox--military power--we aren't actually willing to get involved at the level required to win," he writes. This, he says, "does more harm than good" (ForeignPolicy).

The biggest questions surrounding the mission in Libya are about its objectives, its command structure, and its likely duration. There is no clarity over end-goals or criteria for success, and in the current civil war, "there is little reason to be confident (Politico) the opposition will be able to constitute a benign, national alternative," says CFR President Richard N. Haass.

Additional Analysis:
Daniel Korski of the European Council on Foreign Relations recommends a UN-mandated, Egyptian-led, NATO-enabled peacekeeping force to take over once the fighting is over.

R2P lies also in the fact of the World Summit Outcome Document of the High-level plenary Meeting of the General Assembly in September 2005, which document shows agreement on text for the report (read the full text of the Outcome Document). Paragraphs 138, 139 and 140 of this Document declare:

138. Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means. We accept that responsibility and will act in accordance with it. The international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability.

139. The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. We stress the need for the General Assembly to continue consideration of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter and international law. We also intend to commit ourselves, as necessary and appropriate, to helping States build capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and to assisting those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out.

140. We fully support the mission of the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide.
Furthermore there is the Report of the International Commission on intervention and state sovereignty, which report should be seen as a guide for future responsibilities to protect:


(1) Basic Principles
A. State sovereignty implies responsibility, and the primary responsibility for the protection of its people lies with the state itself.
B. Where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility
to protect.

(2) Foundations
The foundations of the responsibility to protect, as a guiding principle for the international community of states, lie in:
A. obligations inherent in the concept of sovereignty;
B. the responsibility of the Security Council, under Article 24 of the UN Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security;
C. specific legal obligations under human rights and human protection declarations, covenants and treaties, international humanitarian law and national law;
D. the developing practice of states, regional organizations and the Security Council itself.

(3) Elements
The responsibility to protect embraces three specific responsibilities:
A. The responsibility to prevent: to address both the root causes and direct causes of internal conflict and other man-made crises putting populations at risk.
B. The responsibility to react: to respond to situations of compelling human need with appropriate measures, which may include coercive measures like sanctions and international prosecution, and in extreme cases military intervention.
C. The responsibility to rebuild: to provide, particularly after a military intervention, full assistance with recovery, reconstruction and reconciliation, addressing the causes of the harm the intervention was designed to halt or avert.

(4) Priorities
A. Prevention is the single most important dimension of the responsibility to protect: prevention options should always be exhausted before intervention is contemplated, and more commitment and resources must be devoted to it.
B. The exercise of the responsibility to both prevent and react should always involve less intrusive and coercive measures being considered before more coercive and intrusive ones are applied.


(1) The Just Cause Threshold
Military intervention for human protection purposes is an exceptional and extraordinary measure. To be warranted, there must be serious and irreparable harm occurring to human beings, or imminently likely to occur, of the following kind:
A. large scale loss of life, actual or apprehended, with genocidal intent or not, which is the product either of deliberate state action, or state neglect or inability to act, or a failed state situation; or
B. large scale ‘ethnic cleansing’, actual or apprehended, whether carried out by killing, forced expulsion, acts of terror or rape.

(2) The Precautionary Principles
A. Right intention: The primary purpose of the intervention, whatever other motives intervening states may have, must be to halt or avert human suffering. Right intention is better assured with multilateral operations, clearly supported by regional opinion and the victims concerned.
B. Last resort: Military intervention can only be justified when every non-military option for the prevention or peaceful resolution of the crisis has been explored, with reasonable grounds for believing lesser measures would not have succeeded.
C. Proportional means: The scale, duration and intensity of the planned military intervention should be the minimum necessary to secure the defined human protection objective.
D. Reasonable prospects: There must be a reasonable chance of success in halting or averting the suffering which has justified the intervention, with the consequences of action not likely to be worse than the consequences of inaction.

(3) Right Authority
A. There is no better or more appropriate body than the United Nations Security Council to authorize military intervention for human protection purposes. The task is not to find alternatives to the Security Council as a source of authority, but to make the Security Council work better than it has.
B. Security Council authorization should in all cases be sought prior to any military intervention action being carried out. Those calling for an intervention should formally request such authorization, or have the Council raise the matter on its own initiative, or have the Secretary-General raise it under Article 99 of the UN Charter.
C. The Security Council should deal promptly with any request for authority to intervene where there are allegations of large scale loss of human life or ethnic cleansing. It should in this context seek adequate verification of facts or conditions on the ground that might support a military intervention.
D. The Permanent Five members of the Security Council should agree not to apply their veto power, in matters where their vital state interests are not involved, to obstruct the passage of resolutions authorizing military intervention for human protection purposes for which there is otherwise majority support.
E. If the Security Council rejects a proposal or fails to deal with it in a reasonable time, alternative options are:
- consideration of the matter by the General Assembly in Emergency Special Session under the “Uniting for Peace” procedure; and
- action within area of jurisdiction by regional or sub-regional organizations under Chapter VIII of the Charter, subject to their seeking subsequent authorization from the Security Council.
F. The Security Council should take into account in all its deliberations that, if it fails to discharge its responsibility to protect in conscience-shocking situations crying out for action, concerned states may not rule out other means to meet the gravity and urgency of that situation – and that the stature and credibility of the United Nations may suffer thereby.

(4) Operational Principles
A. Clear objectives; clear and unambiguous mandate at all times; and resources to match.
B. Common military approach among involved partners; unity of command; clear and unequivocal communications and chain of command.
C. Acceptance of limitations, incrementalism and gradualism in the application of force, the objective being protection of a population, not defeat of a state.
D. Rules of engagement which fit the operational concept; are precise; reflect the principle of proportionality; and involve total adherence to international humanitarian law.
E. Acceptance that force protection cannot become the principal objective.
F. Maximum possible coordination with humanitarian organizations

Finally, see following Op-eds and some of the debate:

27 February 2011: Gareth Evens – Financial Times, “No-fly zone will help stop Qadaffi’s carnage
02 March 2011: Lloyd Axworthy and Allan Rock – Ottawa Citizen,
World leaders must call R2P what it is"
03 March 2011: Tim Dunne – The Interpreter, “Libya and R2P: What now?"
03 March 2011: Ramesh Thakur –, “UN must prevent Libyan slaughter"
08 March 2011: Gareth Evans – BBC, “Viewpoint: “Overwhelming’ moral case for military path"
10 March 2011: Ron Capps – World Bridge Blog; Refugees International,
Libya: Is there a place for military intervention?"
19 March 2011: Ramesh Thakur – Epoch Times, “Acting responsibly to save Libyan civilians"
21 March 2011: Alex Bellamy – The Australian, “We can’t dodge the hard part stabilizing Libya"
21 March 2011: Ramesh Thakur – The Star, “UN breathes life into ‘responsibility to protect"
24 March 2011: Paul Kagame –, “Rwandans know why Gaddafi must be stopped"
24 March 2011: Gareth Evans – Sydney Morning Herald, “When intervening in a conflict, stick to UN script"
28 March 2011: Edward Luck – International Peace Institute: “Interview with Special Advisor Ed Luck"
01 April 2011: Adekeye Adebajo – Mail and Guardian, “Africa must support Libya intervention"
04 April 2011: Sheri P. Rosenberg – Gulf Times, “The Responsibility to Protect: Libya and beyond"
06 April 2011: Thomas Weiss – The Independent, “Th
e UN has proved its worth in Libya and Ivory Coast"