India, Libya and the Principle of Non-Intervention

India, Libya and the Principle of Non-Intervention

ISAS Insights, 12 April 2011

Delhi’s decision to abstain on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 1973, authorising the use of force in the Libyan civil war was not about expressing India’s non- aligned or non-Western identity. Delhi’s own mixed record on international interventions suggests there was no question of high principle involved in its UNSC vote on Libya. Delhi’s response can be explained in terms of India’s strategic culture that is very risk-averse and rather prudent when it comes to the use of force. It has also been shaped in part by a long- standing domestic political tradition of expressing wariness towards Western intervention in the Middle East. India’s policy on Libya appears to be driven by a cold calculus of national interest and a healthy scepticism about the use of force by third parties towards an internal conflict. 

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