Is Arming Libya Rebels Legal?
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According to the March 30th guardian.co.uk article, “Arming Libya rebels not allowed by UN resolutions, legal experts warn”, lawyers analyzing the terms of the United Nations February 26th arms embargo said the terms would need to be changed in order not to violate international law.

Per the article, February’s UN security council resolution 1970 on the arms embargo states that all member states must prevent the supply to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya of arms including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment and spare parts. The embargo also relates to the provision of technical assistance, training or financial. It also prohibits the provision of mercenaries.

Philippe Sands QC, professor of international law at University College London, was quoted as saying: “The embargo appears to cover everybody in the conflict which means you can’t supply arms to rebels.”


On Tuesday, Hilary Clinton said at a press conference in London that the UN Security council’s creation of a no-fly zone, and permitting strikes to protect civilians superseded the absolute prohibition on arms to anyone in Libya, “so that there could be a legitimate transfer of arms if a country should choose to do that”.

NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasumussen, was quoted as saying: “The UN mandate authorises the enforcement of an arms embargo. We are not in Libya to arm people but to protect people.”

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