Wednesday, 29 August 2012

NATO Appoints Special Rep. for Women, Peace and Security

NATO has announced the appointment of Norwean diplomat Mari Sk√•re Special Representative of Secretary General Rasmussen for Women, Peace and Security. This demonstrates a new level of commitment for the Alliance to implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on that topic.

Including a gender perspective in NATO missions has been done at the operational level in Kosovo and Afghanistan, and is increasingly important with the kinds of missions that NATO is now undertaking. This new appointment raises the political profile of UNSCR 1325 issues at NATO HQ, which is something to the good.

NATO's Failure to Plan for Aftermath of War Evident, Dangerous in Libya

The unintended consequences of NATO's intervention in Libya last year continue unabated, as shown in a recent Guardian piece on the hundreds of armed militia groups that now pervade the country.

These militia groups are well armed, have refused to come under the control of the National Transitional Council (itself largely run by ex-Gaddhafi supporters who were smart enough to turn coat early). They now run secret prisons where detainees are tortured, the kill with impunity and are making the country ungovernable.

These consequences of the break up of the Gaddhafi regime were entirely foreseeable, and yet NATO failed to plan for them. Any rational plan for a successful end to the war last year needed to include organisation of the security sector under the control of the interim government to prevent just the current circumstances arising.

NATO has taken pride in its military efficiency in helping to oust Gaddhafi, and has refused responsibility for events that have happened since. But the state of semi-conflict and instability to the south of the Mediterranean is a security risk for Alliance nations - to ignore it and do nothing about it is untenable - especially since Mali, another country negatively impacted by NATO's Libya mission has descended into chaos and is now a rallying point for Al Qaeda followers across the Maghreb.

The conclusion - NATO needs to plan for all aspects of interventions it undertakes, not just the bits it wants to do. This particularly applied to Libya where the mission was notionally protection of civilians under a UN mandate (although NATO quickly used that to effect regime change). Civilians continue to suffer and die in Libya, and NATO nations bear some of the responsibility for creating the circumstances that allow that.

In Libya, it has a mess it should be working hard to sort out. If it doesn't then, in the long run, it could get bitten.