International Reactions to Ethnic Conflict

Here is a position paper I wrote in preparation to act as a representative of Libya in the Harvard Model United Nations conference of 2015.

Delegation: The State of Libya

Committee: Disarmament and International Security

Topic A: International Reactions to Ethnic Conflict

The State of Libya understands the roots of ethnic conflict as a critical aspect of dealing with issues of ethnic conflict, but even more pressing is the establishment of the surrounding government’s ability to enforce authority and power. If a government does not maintain the ability to enforce laws over a particular area, then the country will become dependent on outside support if that outside support focuses on minimizing the conflict rather than assisting in getting the nation onto its feet. Groups fighting based on ethnic reasons are dangerous because of their extreme disobedience to the government power at hand. As Libya observes from the Central African Republic (CAR), there is still fighting between religious groups, partly because of their ethnicity. As realized by the Srebrenica massacre, the identity leaders push onto their people must be carefully strewn when there is great diversity in the population receiving that identity.

As a country currently experiencing many violent militia feuds, which are based in tribal pride and rivalries, we support the intervention of the international community into areas where future conflicts break out. The work to protect peoples’ lives is more important than protecting the sovereignty of nations in extreme situations. As Libya has realized, could use external support in establishing stronger military power to back our governmental authority.

The State of Libya appreciates the partnership that the UN has with NGOs, and in particular those which keep an eye on human rights issues. As part of the problem in the past with international reactions to ethnic conflicts has been lack of awareness on the leaders part of crimes coming to a boil in the world. Libya sees partnership with an organization who is willing to compile and distribute key, periodical updates to delegates of the DISEC committee as part of what will make a solution possible. Furthermore, as Libya experiences within its borders, ethnic conflicts crop up especially where there is not government power to suppress them. One problem that feeds into the lack of authority within the Libyan parliament coming out of their lack of a clear prime minister. Libya believes the UN must establish a framework for coordinating interventionary measures for coming into a country, especially when that country does not have a clear or powerful government. 


Harvard Model UN 2015 DISEC Preparation Guide and Delegate Preparation Guide.


UNSC authorizes use of force in Libya.

UNSC members’ explanations of their reason for favoring or abstaining from the vote to declare a no-fly zone in Libya.

Militias in Libya exchange control of an airport in Tripoli

Libyan parliament moves into hotel and militias formed during the revolution continue to fight. October 2014. “[S]ome believe a conflict that’s rooted at least partly in Libyan tribal and regional feuds can eventually be solved by compromise.”

Ethnic conflicts based in the revolution—some ethnic groups, like the Berbers of Zuwara who sided with the rebels, “while their Arab neighbors in settlements to the south remained loyal to the Libyan leader.”