Libya’s Seat at the UN

16 September 2011


The UN formally gave Libya’s seat in that body to Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC), thus depriving the partisans of Gadhafi of one more official recognition. The move also has practical consequences in terms of unfreezing Libyan assets for the NTC, ending a ban on flights by Libyan aircraft, and ending a ban on selling armaments to the NTC.

I read a variety of stories on this — UN approves Libya seat for former rebels by EDITH M. LEDERER of Associated Press and A UN success story: Libya’s seat turned over to interim government by By Howard LaFranchi of the CSM, among them — but it was surprisingly difficult to find an exact tally of the lop-sided vote. Finally through the UN’s own news website I found the document Sixty-sixth General Assembly Plenary 2nd Meeting (AM) After Much Wrangling, General Assembly Seats National Transitional Council of Libya as Country’s Representative for Sixty-Sixth Session, which includes a complete breakdown of the vote.

Voting in favor of recognizing the NTC, i.e., the former rebels against Gadhafi and now the legitimate representatives of Libya, in the eyes of the UN, were the following:

Afghanistan, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Switzerland, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, and Yemen.

Voting against the recognition of the NTC were the following:

Angola, Bolivia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Nicaragua, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The nation-states abstaining from the vote include the following:

Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Cameroon, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Indonesia, Mali, Mauritania, Nepal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, and Uruguay.

The nation-states absent from the vote include the following:

Albania, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Bhutan, Burundi, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Dominica, Eritrea, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Liberia, Libya, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mozambique, Myanmar, Nauru, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Tajikistan, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, and Uzbekistan.

It took some digging to find this information; it certainly wasn’t prominent in any of the documents I consulted. The Edith M. Lederer article mentioned above stated that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and ALBA were opposed to the recognition. The member states of SADC include the following:

Angola, Botswana, DRC, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

The member states of ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, Spanish: Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América) include the following:

Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela.

Here is a map of the ALBA nation-states:

And here is a map of the SADC nation-states:

The maps make an important difference clear. The SADC is a regional organization concerned with southern Africa, whereas ALBA is regional in so far as it is confined to Latin America, but it is, above all, an ideologically-conceived economic organization presided over by Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, who, along with Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, was and remains one of Gadhafi’s loyal supporters in the international community.

Among the members of the SADC, Madagascar and Mauritius voted to recognize the NTC, while the Seychelles and Mozambique were absent. Kenya, not part of the SADC, also voted against the NTC. In any case, in the regional voting bloc we can see a real diversity of opinion, and the statement of Ismael A. Gaspar Martins, Permanent Representative of The Republic of Angola to the United Nations, was and is true at the present time:

“The NTC has committed itself in the very near future, establishing such an interim government of national unity which will work towards crafting a new constitution, a new dispensation for a free Libya. Thus, notwithstanding of the fact that the NTC is in fact in control of Libya, it is as yet not government in Libya, interim or otherwise.”

As we all know, however, true statements can be disingenuous. In terms of the SADC, I think there is a real sense of caution, but I don’t think that in this particular case that the statement of Ismael A. Gaspar Martins was disingenuous. The SADC representatives would probably simply liked to have delayed the vote on credentials until the situation was stabilized and consolidated, and in fact there was a UN vote to delay the vote on Libya’s UN seat credentials, and this vote was as lop-sided as the vote for these credentials.

In the case of ALBA, which is regional like the SADC but was conceived ideologically, we do not see the same diversity of opinion. No member state of ALBA voted to recognize the NTC. Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines abstained from the vote, while Dominica was absent. The other member states of ALBA all voted against recognizing the NTC, though they will be far less affected by this recognition than the members of the SADC.

At this point, one really has to ask exactly what ideological principle is being upheld by the members of ALBA? It is difficult to see this as anything other than a particularly concrete manifestation of the division between authoritarianism and liberalism suggested by Robert Kagan (I have previously discussed this in Doctrinaire and Inorganic Democracy and Anniversary of a Massacre) in his book The Return of History and the End of Dreams.

While I have been critical of Kagan’s distinction because authoritarianism isn’t really an ideology, it certainly does form an interest group, and here in the UN we have see the remnant interest groups of authoritarianism use what few votes they have remaining to register a protest against the fall of one of their own.

. . . . .

A community of common interests?

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. . . . .

Grand Strategy Annex

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