The NATO-led intervention in Libya, Operation Unified Protector, is noteworthy for two central reasons. First, it is the first instance in over a decade of what Andrew Cottey calls “classical humanitarian intervention”—that is, humanitarian intervention that lacks the consent of the government of the target state, has a significant military and forcible element, and is undertaken by Western states. Not since the NATO intervention in 1999 to protect the Kosovar Albanians from ethnic cleansing has there been such an intervention. To be sure, since 2000 there have been some robust peace operations that fall in the gray area between classical humanitarian intervention and first-generation peacekeeping (such as MONUC, the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo). But, even if these operations were to some extent forcible, they had the consent of the government of the target state.
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