The conflict in Libya is by far the bloodiest in a sequence of recent uprisings against regimes in the Middle East and North Africa. Beginning in the port city of Benghazi on 17 February, fighting has escalated across the country. There have been consistent reports of widespread and systematic violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, primarily by pro-Gaddafi forces, paramilitaries and mercenaries. The UN estimates that up to 3.6 million Libyans may require humanitarian assistance. Access continues to be problematic despite an agreement reached on 17 April between the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC) Valerie Amos and the government to expand the humanitarian presence.
In light of the international response to the conflict, especially the UN Security Council resolution authorising military action to protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian assistance, this note explores the importance of engaging in constructive civil-military coordination to achieve humanitarian objectives.