Under diplomatic law, every state has the
right to grant diplomatic recognition to a new state, a new
government, a national liberation movement fighting for
independence from a colonial power or a national liberation
movement fighting to overthrow a dictatorial regime or a bad
Although traditional diplomatic law frowned upon encouraging
rebellion, recent events in the Middle East and North
Africa, have thrown up new justifications for assisting
people in rebellion against long-serving, non-performing,
However, the international media, have been sweeping in
reporting the Battle for Libya. They have faced occasional
degradation, as they have had to retract some of their
Some international media have based their reportage on a
root and-branch attack on Kaddafi, anchored on a plenitudo
potestatis. This attack on Kaddafi’s person did not sit well
with those ideologues, who had been indoctrinated, rightly
or wrongly, that any foreign invasion of Libya is aimed at
taking Libya’s oil.
It is one of the ironies of modern media history that the
very international media, which copiously reported Kaddafi
in flamboyant and obscure diction, are now turn- coats,
associating him with every vice.
The prominence Kaddafi received in the international media,
probably discouraged his people from rising against him,
long before the Tunisian episode that sparked the Arab
rebellion in the Middle East and North Africa. I await any
rebuttal from the international media.
Those purchasable libertines, who strut around the world
reporting both truths and fictions, do misrepresent
realities a lot, especially in Africa, which they treat as
one state, based on their limited knowledge about Africa,
which they have refused to improve upon.
The right of nations and peoples to self-determination up to
forming opposing governments is gradually crystallizing as
accepted norms, in world politics.
According to Podesta Costa,” recognition is facultative.”
This means that those, who make decisions on such matters on
behalf of our government, can exercise their authority. The
wisdom in their decision or the lack of it will be judged by
In democracies, the government may have its way, but the
people must have their say.
On 23rd August, 2011, it was widely reported that the
Federal Government of Nigeria, had recognized the
Transitional National Council of Libya.
Some prominent members of the International Community, based
on certain universally acknowledged principles, had
recognized the Council. This assistance was very crucial to
the liberation efforts of the rebels.
Total victory has, so far become elusive, because Col.
Murmar Kaddafi as proved to be an artful dodger. A
commentator on” MAYK” radio, had suggested that “Kaddafi
should be promoted to the rank of a Field Marshall for his
military actions against NATO forces. This is unacceptable
A few African states and five Arab states had recognized the
National Transition Council. The majority of African and
Arab states seem to be playing a game of “wait and see”
Recognition may be de jure, de facto or premature.
Premature recognition is seen as a covet or overt pressure
by interest groups to win friends and influence governments.
There is a difference between recognizing a new government
and the recognition of a new state. The details are too
labourious to go into here.
What we are concerned with here is the recognition of a new
government because the sovereign state of Libya had long
been recognized de jure.
The Federal government’s announcement did not specify
whether the rebels were recognized de jure or de facto.
It is not very usual to grant full de jure recognition to a
Transition Council, until it establishes a government,
announces its ministers and sets up a bureaucracy and some
relevant governmental bodies, as the Southern Sudanese
government has done.
States in the process of transition from rebellion to
democratic engagement must demonstrate that through their
diplomatic personnel and policies, they can enter into
international relations with existing states and
The Libyan government had demanded a strict proof of
nationality of the rebels, since Tripoli claimed that some
of the rebels were not Libyans, but an amalgam of Islamic
jihadists of no nation.
How these rebel groups can deal with international
agreements and the legal regulation of post-war society will
be interesting to watch. How will they exercise jurisdiction
over aliens and will they accept international
responsibility for damage to aliens and alien properties?
The rebels may not yield to the white- collar-shirts
-revolutionaries, who have been watching the “Battle for
Libya” from their cozy, émigré offices in Europe and
America, while the rebel fighters shed their blood during
Their demand to be relevant will be a legitimate one. Do
they have what it takes to govern a modern state?
Another over-arching problem is the diversity of the Libyan
state, with strong tribal affiliations, where there are no
modern political and socio-economic institutions. Even the
educated elite are in the Diaspora, as a result of the
dictatorial regime of Murmar Kaddafi. So, who will run
In as much as one sees the need for a change and
transformation of the Libyan society, one is very skeptical
about the characters of the leading “political leaders,” who
are being relied upon to bring about the transformation..
There is a problem. As we have witnessed in Iraq, the
members of the Baath Socialist Party and the military
officers, who were dismissed from their posts, seem to be
behind the unrest in Iraq, years after the mission to turn
Iraq into a democracy.
Most of these émigré politicians left Libya as a result of
falling out of favour with Murmar Kaddafi, misconduct, or
other reasons that had nothing to do with revolutionary
change. The most laughable case is that of Jalloud,
Kaddafi’s second in command for forty-one years, who is now
singing a new refrain.
This is why many governments make haste slowly in
recognizing rebels, because in political struggle, anything
can happen. A premature recognition can be very embarrassing
as Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Haiti and France discovered after
the Biafra war.
States do wait for the new government to consolidate its
power before recognition. When the Soviets overthrew Czar
Nicholas of Russia, Mexico recognized the Bolshevik in 1918,
Britain in 1924 and the Americans in 1933.
There is always an ideological dimension to recognition.
States that operate different social systems and foreign
policies react according to their national interests. China
and Russia may wait for sometime before they recognize the
rebels. The AU states too.
A new state needs diplomatic recognition, which recognition
will enable it to function in diplomatic and consular
circles. Diplomatic recognition will be crucial, if a new
state must meet the requirements of the Montevideo
Convention of 1933 and the Bustamante Code of 1928.
On 24th August, 2011, Russia recognized the South Sudan
government. Russia did not grant her premature recognition,
and may not grant the Libyan rebels diplomatic recognition
In examining this topic, one may adopt the propaganda
approach, the analytical approach, the partisan/ideological
approach or the scholarly approach.
One may t argue relatively and subjectively, depending on
where one is squatting on the imbroglio.
Some scholars, who attended the recent session of BOSAS
INTERNATIONAL LAW BUREAU seminar, In Abuja, recalled that
Murmar Kaddafi assisted in the anti-apartheid struggle by
helping the ANC. He also assisted Angola, when Jonas Savimbi
was on a mission to destroy Angola. He has assisted many
I agreed but added that Kaddafi behaved arrogantly, became
unconscionable, defiant and was intolerant of opinions that
differed from his own. This was the matrix upon which he
erected his oligarchy and other states, their hatred for
him. “A man’s pride brings him low” “Proverbs 29:23). Both
the Calvinists and the Jesuits agreed that heretical leaders
should be the object of rebellions.
The oil in Libya may or may not be the entire reason for the
NATO/rebel invasion. This story may not end in five years
time, and like in Iraq, peace will be long in returning to
Tripoli and Benghazi.
Is Libya a metaphoric nation? I cannot find any metonymy to
drive this point home. Libyan history and that of
Afghanistan are full of evidence darts of outrageous fortune
shot at their existence in historical time. Is what is going
on in Libya a revolution or an eclipse?
As a result of the unclear political tapestry of the Libyan
state, an assumption that the rebels will hold elections and
bring about democracy and equality for all Libyans, as of
now, is socially fictitious. So, what is the joy about?
“Formality, obscurity and technicality” in political
commentary, could lead to misplaced optimism. As Bentham
said, “Everyone has his own lawyer” and “is his own lawyer.”
So, coded pontifications by biased pundits do not enhance
our vision of the Libyan tragedy. It is Libyans, who are
dying. A euphoric support of one faction over another is not
a situation, humanists will view with approval. It is
Libyans, who are dying!
The lack of freedom and the pre-eminence of authority robbed
Libyans of political liberty and “a mystical independence of
the soul from all secular conditions.”
There were and there are no self-evident rights, which
Thomas Jefferson wrote about in Libya. This struggle by
Libyans is not a gladiatorial entertainment. It is aimed at
releasing the soul of the people in a nation, who have been
under bondage as a result of the subjective thinking about
how Libya should be governed by an untutored, radical,
political extremist, after he overthrew the monarchy in
Libya. Political analysts have engaged themselves in
sooth-saying and bold talk.
At bottom, these feelings and permutations by speculative
pundits are hortatory, since Libya has no social convention.
To make Libya succeed will assume a degree of
innovativeness, which defected Kaddafists, now recognized as
“dealers” do not seem to possess.
The corruption in Iraq and amongst Palestinian leaders,
point to what the defected Kaddafists will represent. When
will the West learn not to fritter away their resources on
those states and their leaders, whose modus operandi is to
secure the patronage of the ones, who were in power, without
changing the ethos by which both have profited, or hope to
The enmity between the Libyan tribal leaders will
exacerbate, when the money is made available to the émigré
political turn-coats. In a largely desert state, access to
the out-of-the-way regions, where pro-Kaddafists live will
There are already cacophonic dissenting voices among members
of the international community. Russia insists that
post-conflict Libya must be regulated under the auspices of
the United Nations Organization.
South Africa has declared that the UN must investigate human
rights violations by NATO in Libya, especially the
disclosure by the West that British, French, Jordanian,
Qatari Special Forces had been used in Libyan cities.
The command bombardment of Tripoli, the capital of Libya,
where foreign diplomats live should be investigated.
The leader of the rebel group has said that the UNO should
help provide policemen and military power to help
post-conflict Libya, but that no troops should be on Libyan
soil. What a contradiction!
The same leader of the rebels has said that non-payment of
salaries and other fundings could jeopardize their
stability. With the paltry sums some cash-strapped NATO
states are offering the rebels, the prospect of stability
may be dim.
Definitely, Libya will occupy a prominent place on the
agenda of the coming United Nations meeting as from
September 10, 2011.The position of the African Union as
against that of NATO and the US may cause an irredeemable
split of the UNO.
A document in circulation is calling on the Arab and African
nations to understand the on-going Euro American policy in
the Middle East and North Africa.
However, I think that there is need for a
cross-fertilization of ideas on contemporary world affairs,
so that things can be put into proper perspective.
There is no doubt that the bombardment of Libya, the deaths
on both sides hurt African feelings very deeply. No matter
what one thinks of Kaddafi, you do not throw away the baby
with the bath-water. There is no doubt that ill-feelings
against NATO has ossified in Africa and in the Arab world.
Alhaji Umar Bello has argued that it is not only Kaddafi
that has ruled for very long ,since there are European
monarchs that have ruled for longer periods and that when
Pinochet, Pol Pot, and other Western-backed Presidents
committed atrocities in their countries, the NATO forces
were never sent to intervene. Such feelings, whether
rational or not, are the matrix up which the coming
show-down between nations is festering.
There are some questions discussants at BOSAS INTERNATIONAL
LAW BUREAU Seminar in, Abuja raised about Nigeria’s
diplomatic action of recognition of the Transitional Council
Why the hurried eagerness to recognize after media
misinformation that two sons of the Libyan leader had been
captured, a lie that the re-appearance of Saif Kaddafi
debunked. Wolff Blitzer of CNN was obviously disappointed
with the TNC, for such a faux pas.
To conduct diplomatic relations based on unsubstantiated
media speculations, need a re-think. To do as others have
done is unwise, since the national interests of different
states are divergent.
What are our national interests in Libya, which the TNC will
help us to protect? Are we not inadvertently setting a bad
precedent for our own home-grown dissidents? How thoroughly
or marginally do we know the rebels, who we saw looting
Kaddafi’s properties reminiscent of the looters of London?
Now that we have closed our embassy in Tripoli, are there no
Nigerian citizens, who may need diplomatic or social
We may try to impress the international community, but we
are only in the corridors of power of the international
community and not in the bed-room of power!
A participant at our seminar, with a razor-sharp mind asked
a provocative question. He observed that while the political
tussle over the concluded elections in Nigeria is being
fought in our courts, the Libyan fight for control is in the
theatres of war. He wondered whether any state that
recognizes a contending Nigerian leader as legitimate and
proceeds to grant him recognition, will not constitute an
unfriendly act against the Federal Republic of Nigeria?
Of course, definitely, it will be so regarded. I told him
that his philosophical rationalizations were anecdotal,
animated, atomistic, avuncular, azoic, perhaps apocalyptic,
but awful. He laughed hysterically.
We shall become a full member of the UN Security Council as
of right and not through pandering to any interests.
Our transformation diplomacy should not be based on an open
consonant,” follow our friends”, mentality. It must not be
based on grandstanding nor should it be dressy, shared out
in dribs and drabs. It must be informed, rational and a
product of a healthy serotonin.
The era is gone, when government decisions go unchallenged.
We are moving from docility to bona fide critical appraisal
of government decisions. We hate to cry over split milk.
We should not allow our friends to choose our enemies for
us, for we are incapable of obtaining reciprocity, since
they make up their decisions based on their national
Whether the recognition of Libya is a hurried, diplomatic
eagerness or a flawed diplomatic response, the future will
May Libya be peaceful, democratic and humane. When we count
the cost of the Libya liberation enterprise, we cannot but
commend the unalloyed determination of efforts to accentuate
the need to protect human rights from dictatorial leaders,
with misplaced consciences.
Professor Dr. Emmanuel Omoh Esiemokhai is the President of
the proposed Afemai University, Fugar, Edo State, Nigeria.(