The United Nations, Military Intervention, and Regime Change in Libya

49 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2011 Last revised: 14 Mar 2015

Date Written: September 20, 2011


The military intervention in Libya on the basis of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 raises important questions with regard to the legality and legitimacy of forceful regime change. While the resolution is in accordance with the generally accepted post-Cold War practice of the Security Council, its scope and limits are not entirely clear. As a result, controversial debates about the legality and the legitimacy of the military intervention have begun. A closer examination of Resolution 1973 shows the considerably broad scope of the authorization which could - with certain restrictions - also be regarded as a legal basis for regime change in Libya. In light of the rather weak legal restraints on the Security Council, Resolution 1973 has to be considered legal and consistent with the Security Council’s competences under the Charter of the United Nations. However, the authorization is problematic from a policy perspective and with regard to its legitimacy. Beyond the case of Libya, Resolution 1973 and the surrounding debates therefore raise the question of the appropriate role of the United Nations Security Council within the international system of collective security.

Keywords: Libya, Military Intervention, United Nations, NATO, Security Council, Resolution 1973, Regime Change

Suggested Citation

Payandeh, Mehrdad, The United Nations, Military Intervention, and Regime Change in Libya (September 20, 2011). Virginia Journal of International Law, Vol. 52, No. 2, 2012. Available at SSRN:

Mehrdad Payandeh (Contact Author)

Bucerius Law School ( email )

Jungiusstr. 6
Hamburg, 20355

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