The United Nations Security Council's vote for military intervention in Libya will add to the world's lessons in knowing when and how to act in a nation's crisis.
Humanity should be proud of its humanity. On Thursday, the United Nations Security Council voted to authorize the use of outside force in Libya, a move designed to prevent a massacre of pro-democracy rebels and civilians in the city of Benghazi.
No matter what happens in Libya over coming days, the international community has now ventured further down a long learning curve. The UN, in passing Resolution 1973 on March 17, has better defined when the world will meddle in a sovereign nation to prevent mass deaths.
Each humanitarian crisis – such as Somalia, Rwanda, Srebrenica, Congo, Kosovo, Darfur – has been different enough that the world has responded differently, or not at all. Yet each crisis provides its own lessons that help form a familiar pattern of collective behavior to better enable a global response in future crises.
In Libya’s case, the early lessons are these:
1. Wait for countries in the region to take the lead, rather than look to the US for automatic leadership.
When the Arab League of nations asked the UN last Saturday to approve a no-fly zone over Libya, other countries were then ready to act. And China and Russia had to withhold their vetoes in the Security Council votes.