This article analyses international negotiations over the 2011 Libyan crisis during the short weeks between the start of the uprising and the passage and implementation of un Security Council Resolution 1973. We make two arguments: first, following Risse, we demonstrate how and when argumentation around the humanitarian norm of protecting civilians mattered in these debates; second, we show that failure on the part of the supporters of the intervention on humanitarian grounds to maintain consistent and genuine argumentation in relation to that mandate is a key factor in explaining the subsequent lack of agreement about collective action inside the Security Council. We conclude that the lesson that arguing mattered in relation to Libya has been insufficiently appreciated, but needs to be better understood in order to facilitate the future traction of the RtoP norm in international negotiations.
For example, Ahmed Jadallah, ‘Gaddafi defiant as protesters killed’, The Independent (Reuters), 25 February 2011, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/gaddafi-defiant-as-protesters-killed-2225667.html, accessed 20 August 2013.
Michael Lewis, ‘Obama’s Way’, Vanity Fair, October 2012, http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/2012/10/michael-lewis-profile-barack-obama, accessed 2 October 2012, p. 6; European Affairs, ‘Libya; New Scenario Seems to Exclude Ground Intervention by eu or us’, March 2011, http://www.europeaninstitute.org/March-2011/libya-new-scenario-seems-to-exclude-armed-intervention-by-eu-or-us-316.html, accessed 3 March 2014.
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Hehir, ‘The Permanence of Inconsistency: Libya, the Security Council, and the Responsibility to Protect’, p. 154; Shashank Joshi, ‘The Complexity of Arab Support’, in Adrian Johnson and Saqeb Mueen (eds.), Short War, Long Shadow: The Political and Military Legacies of the 2011 Libya campaign (London: Royal United Services Institute, 2012), pp. 63–6.