Libya on the Security Council

Texas Fred and Rob from Say Anything are up in arms about Libya’s new seat on the Security Council. Says Texas Fred: “Classic case of the UN once again allowing the foxes to guard the hen-house. This sort of thing happens over and over again within the UN and the Us [sic] does nothing to prevent it. It’s as though the US approves of this sort of insane behavior.”

Thing is, the United States did approve of — or at least not oppose — Libya’s run for a Security Council seat. (In contrast, recall the debate over Venezuela’s run last year.) This, in part, can be considered a reward for Libya’s good behavior. After having renounced terrorism and abandoning its nuclear program Libya is no longer the international pariah it once was. Furthermore, Tripoli is starting to play a more constructive regional role than it has in the past. Later this month, it will host a major Darfur peace conference, where it is hoped Tripoli will exert pressure on certain rebel groups to bring them to the table. Lockerbie families are understandably upset. But if the point of international relations is to change the behavior of a regime, and not necessarily who runs it, then policy vis-a vis Libya is making great strides.

Finally, from the perspective of Security Council dynamics, there is no reason to think that Libya will be anymore or anyless accommodating to American interests than Qatar, the country it replaced. (Last summer, the United States vetoed and anti-Israeli resolution sponsored by Qatar, and Qatar routinely voted opposite the United States in measures relating to Sudan.) Frankly, having Libya on the Security Council at a time when Tripoli is assuming the role of regional arbitrator of the Darfur conflict can provide a needed boon to diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict.