UN Secretary General defends NATO intervention

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Durban, December 6, 2011

From Louis Charbonneau, Reuters:  U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday defended NATO against criticism from Russia, China and other countries, which accuse the alliance of overstepping its U.N. mandate to protect civilians in Libya.

It was an unusual move by the cautious head of the United Nations, who will complete his first five-year term at the end of the month and begin his second term in January. Ban has rarely taken public positions that pit him with some permanent members of the 15-nation Security Council against others.

"Security Council resolution 1973, I believe, was strictly enforced within the limit, within the mandate," Ban told reporters in New York. "This military operation done by the NATO forces was strictly within (resolution) 1973."

"I believe this is what we have seen, and there should be no misunderstanding on that," he said. . . .

Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa — the so-called BRICS nations — have repeatedly accused NATO of using the mandate to protect civilians as a cover to pursue regime change by aiding rebel forces who ousted and eventually killed Libya’s long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi. . . .

Ban said he was pleased that the concept of taking action to protect civilians — often referred to as the "responsibility to protect" or R2P — appeared to be gaining momentum.

But he reiterated that some kind of concerted international action was needed on Syria, where the United Nations says more than 5,000 civilians have been killed in a government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters this year.  (photo: Reuters)

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