The current disorder in Libya is not merely the result of a failed humanitarian intervention, which allegedly collapsed the state. Global currents and processes have also combined with local forces to unmake the Libyan state. Like the other cases of globalized state unmaking in the region, a new phase in Libya’s history opened in 2011 and has yet to be closed. It is one in which the order of Libyan disorder has been constituted by global networks of interpenetrating relations within and beyond Libya’s borders.
The death of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi has become one of the most contested moments of Libya’s eight-month war. The exact circumstances of the colonel’s demise on October 20 are unclear, but evidence is mounting that Libya’s former ruler was killed — extra-judicially executed — by the band of young gunmen who captured him.
The UN Security Council has been a key arbiter of international action regarding the upheavals in the Arab world in 2011. In late February, the Council issued Resolution 1970 calling for an “immediate end to the violence” in Libya, imposing sanctions and an arms embargo, and asking the International Criminal Court to investigate the regime of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi. Less than a month later, on March 17, the Council passed Resolution 1973 authorizing NATO “to take all necessary measures” to protect Libyan civilians, leading to Qaddafi’s eventual fall from power. In late September, the Security Council will also take up the request of Palestinian leader Mahmoud ‘Abbas for full UN membership for a state of Palestine.