Libya, under the Qaddafi dictatorship, has a history of rule-breaking behaviour both at home and abroad. It has violated major international rules of state conduct by engaging in terrorism, committing external aggression and threatening regional peace, exporting its domestic revolution, adopting a revisionist international orientation, pursuing weapons of mass destruction, and systematically violating human rights. Libya's extraordinarily ambitious foreign policy and its conventional military build-up contravened two further informal codes of conduct. For its wrongdoing Libya suffered both unilateral and collective sanctions. In recent years Libya has evidently been turning its back on its errant ways, except for the ongoing abuse of human rights.
The Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, to cite its full name, has long been one of Africa's most controversial states. It is a status directly attributable to the country's violation of commonly accepted norms of good state behaviour. Over decades Libya has flouted major formal and binding standards of conduct enshrined in international conventions and agreements, in addition to violating some informal rules of behaviour. There are at least eight norms that Libya has manifestly broken, with some of the transgressions leading to collective and unilateral punishment.
Running one of the world's oldest personal dictatorships, 'Brother Leader' Muammar Qaddafi has firmly placed his imprint on Libya's domestic politics and foreign relations alike He can justifiably be regarded as the principal architect of Libya's many misdeeds. Its contraventions are the subject of this article.
2. ON NAMING (AND SHAMING)
Twenty-seven year old Colonel Qaddafi was the leader of a bloodless military coup d'etat in September 1969 that not only deposed King Idris and abolished the monarchy, but heralded what the new self-appointed chief executive called a long, deep and broad revolution. Socialism with a supposedly Islamic bent replaced the capitalist oriented economic order and Libya's pro-Western international orientation gave way to a fiery, uncompromising brand of pan-Arabism. Qaddafi moreover entertained continental and even wider international ambitions, refusing to be constrained by the fact that he was the leader of a small and weak African state. (1))
In addition to his megalomania and radicalism--elaborated below--Qaddafi has from early in his rule acquired a reputation for unpredictability and eccentricity. A recent illustration of his views is Qaddafi's depiction of AIDS as "a peaceful virus, not an aggressive virus". Addressing an African Union summit in Maputo in July 2003, the Libyan leader offered a reassuring message to the startled dignitaries: "If you are straight you have nothing to fear from Aids". (2))
He also shared his peculiar insights into two other diseases plaguing the continent. Africans need have no fear of the tsetse fly and the mosquito, he lectured the distinguished audience, for they are "God's armies which will protect us against colonialists". Should these 'enemies' come to Africa, "they will get malaria and sleeping sickness". (3))
These attributes have not helped Qaddafi to portray himself abroad as a responsible and respectable statesman. "His erratic tactics, his conceit, his readiness to use every sort of violence to fulfil his dreams", The Economist commented in 1986, "are the stuff of madness". (4)) It was indeed speculated in the West that Qaddafi suffered from manic depression and schizophrenia and had since 1982 been visiting a clinic specialising in these illnesses. (5)) Egypt's President Anwar Sadat perhaps shared such views when he branded the Libyan leader "unbalanced and immature", a "vicious criminal, 100 per cent sick and possessed of the demon". (6)) President Gaafar Nimeiry of Sudan offered a comparable diagnosis: Qaddafi suffered from "a split personality--both evil". (7)) Chad's President Hissene Habre, who had good reason to loathe his meddlesome neighbour, referred to "[t]hat disease called Gaddafi". (8)) For Bulent Ecevit, at the time Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister, Qaddafi was simply an "unsuitable leader" for Libya. (9)) Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, never fond of the Libyan firebrand either, was somewhat less uncharitable than most, dubbing Qaddafi the "knight of revolutionary phrases". (10)) Even the 'grandfather' of contemporary revolutions, Fidel Castro, dismissed Qaddafi as a "reckless adventurer". (11)) President Ronald Reagan famously branded Qaddafi "the mad dog of the Middle East". (12)) Others have variously depicted Qaddafi as a "Barbary pirate", (13)) "marauding matador" (14)) and, more playfully, "the clown prince of the Middle East". (15)) To be fair, such ad hominem attacks on Qaddafi have become scarce in recent years as Libya's foreign relations have improved over a wide front. For most of his rule, though, Libya's errant ways alienated scores of states.
3. LIBYA'S TRANSGRESSIONS
Until quite recently Libya's principal transgression was involvement in international terrorism. Such activity clearly violated the anti-terrorism norm, presently enshrined in various United Nations (UN) conventions dating back to 1963. This contravention had several distinct elements, namely hit squad operations against dissident Libyans in exile; attacks on non-Libyan targets abroad; providing money, material and training to terrorist groups in scores of countries; and offering sanctuary to known terrorists. (16))
The first type of action was explicitly ordered by Qaddafi. On occasion he declared that "the Revolution has destroyed those who oppose it inside the country and now it must pursue the rest abroad". (17)) In dealing with exiled members of opposition factions--whom he derided as 'stray dogs'--Qaddafi openly advocated 'revolutionary violence', as opposed to terrorism which he claimed to reject. By this logic Libya had the right, as he proclaimed in 1985, to liquidate opponents of the revolution both inside and outside Libya in broad daylight. (18))
That indeed happened, as with the murder of 11 anti-Qaddafi exiles in 1980-1981 and several more in subsequent years. (19))
Libyan-sponsored terrorists struck at several Western targets. Following bomb explosions in London and Manchester in March 1984, British police arrested four Libyan suspects. (20)) Twenty civilians, among them five Americans, were killed in terrorist attacks on Rome and Vienna airports in December 1985. Local investigators found that the perpetrators were members of the Abu Nidal Organization, Palestinian extremists backed by Libya. (21)) The following year a bomb devastated a discotheque in West Berlin frequented by United States (US) military personnel. Two US soldiers and a civilian were killed and 200 people injured, including more than 60 US soldiers. US charges of Libyan involvement were finally confirmed in November 2001 when a Berlin court convicted four people and found that Libyan secret agents and embassy staff had planned the attack. (22)) In August 2003 Libya offered to pay compensation to the relatives of the three people killed in Berlin bombing. Although Tripoli insisted that the payment was not an acknowledgment of responsibility but a 'gesture of humanity', Libya's move will be widely interpreted as an admission of guilt. (23))
When an explosion destroyed an American civilian airliner over Lockerbie (Scotland) in December 1988, the US and the United Kingdom (UK) immediately accused Libya of involvement. The following September a UTA French passenger aircraft met the same fate over Niger, and again accusing Western fingers were pointed at Libya. The UN Security Council took a particularly serious view of Libya's response to the two incidents. Tripoli's failure to demonstrate concretely its renunciation of terrorism, together with its failure to co-operate fully with other countries in establishing responsibility for these terrorist acts, was declared by the Security Council in 1992 (resolution 748), to "constitute a threat to international peace and security". This formulation, couched in the language of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, paved the …