Deploying Race, Employing Force: ‘African Mercenaries’ and the 2011 NATO Intervention in Libya

This Article reflects on the ongoing synergies between international law, race, and empire, as they are articulated in the regulation of mercenarism. It does so by examining the role of the racialized and gendered narratives about “African mercenaries” in the context of the UN Security Council authorization of the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya. By recovering the efforts of the Global South to outlaw the use of (white) mercenaries for the promotion of imperialist causes, and the resistance of Western states against these initiatives, this Article documents the reversal of these attitudes in the case of Libya. In so doing, the authors argue that international law is deeply implicated in the reproduction of racial domination and exploitation.

About the Author

Dr. Katherine Fallah is a Lecturer in Law at the University of Technology Sydney and was a 2019 Kathleen Fitzpatrick Postdoctoral Visiting Fellow with the Australian Research Council Laureate Program in International Law at Melbourne Law School. Dr. Ntina Tzouvala is a Senior Lecturer in Law at the Australian National University, and a former Postdoctoral Fellow with the Laureate Program in International Law at Melbourne Law School.