Sikander Ahmed Shah The killing of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi after being captured alive by the freedom fighters is a clear violation of international humanitarian law. While the National Transitional Council is set to formally announce Libyas liberation, NATO has specified that it will end its armed campaign in Libya by October 31. NATOs air strikes on Libya have been carried out on the basis of the UN Security Council Resolution 1973. This is a binding Chapter VII resolution, which under Paragraph 4 authorises member states to take all necessary protect civilians and civilian populated areas. Therefore, NATO utilised this resolution, as the legal basis for carrying out systematic air strikes on Libya for seven months. Many states, including Russia and China, have been extremely critical of the use of force in Libya, and view it as a mechanism to bring about regime change and not to protect the civilians - a norm, which as of yet has not reached the status of customary international law, but is actively promoted by the UN Secretary Generals office. Thus, presently humanitarian intervention cannot be used as a legal basis to violate the territorial sovereignty of a State and is prohibited under Article 2(4) of the UN Charter. It is, therefore, no surprise that the Security Councils permanent members, like Russia and China, who are themselves confronting secessionist movements, have recently vetoed a draft Security Council resolution on Syria; on the basis of upholding the right to non-interference and in the interest of peace and security in the Middle East. Russia, China and many other emerging powers, feel that if the draft resolution had been approved, then NATO could have misused it to conduct armed operations inside Syria, as it did in Libya, on the pretext of protecting the civilians. The Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, has recently stated: The international community is alarmed by statements that compliance with [the] Security Council resolutions in Libya in the NATO interpretation is a model for future actions of NATO in implementing [the] responsibility to protect. From a human rights perspective, especially in the light of genocide and crimes against humanity recently committed in Rwanda, Bosnia and Sudan, the right of humanitarian intervention seems at first to be the right course of action. However, in practice, such a right is often exercised unilaterally or by a small group of States, acting with ulterior motives, with little regard for the interest of civilian populations, who they claim to be protecting. Many states contradictorily hold the right applicable in certain circumstances and not in other similar situations. Such behaviour is destabilising and retards international peace and security. Recently, the principle of State sovereignty has confronted numerous challenges. Religion, globalisation, human security and international trade have all tested the norm and have facilitated its evolution in different ways. At times, this transformation has been positive, while, in other circumstances, a contrary determination can be made. However, if humanitarian intervention is to be an acceptable norm of international law, numerous safeguards have to be incorporated in international law before this right can be exercisable. This would most certainly require changes in the UN Charter and the international law governing the use of force. Furthermore, the necessary mechanisms must be put in place to more effectively determine facts, in order to establish State responsibility. This would, in turn, require a State to contract away other forms of sovereignty that even States, which actively advocate for the right of humanitarian intervention will find difficult to agree to. If the right of humanitarian intervention was exercisable immediately at the discretion of any State, then 'humanitarian imperialism would, most probably, be the result. Then, the US conducting drones strikes and armed operations deep inside Pakistan to extirpate alleged terrorists and militants on the premise that Pakistan has failed in its responsibility to protect its citizens would become easily justifiable under international law. The writer is a professor of Public International Law at LUMS University.