Why Libya Should Not Join the ICC…Yet

Seal of the Libya's National Transitional Council. Image: Wikimedia Commons

It comes as no surprise that human rights NGOs and those aligned with the International Criminal Court are advocating that Arab Spring states join the ICC. After all, justice and human rights have been central to the uprisings that sprang up last year. One Arab Spring state, Tunisia, already acceded to the Court last June.

In this context,  as part of its Universal Ratification Campaign, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) recently initiated a targeted effort to get Libya to join the ICC. The CICC, an impressive array of some 2,500 civil society organizations which broadly support the aims of the ICC, released a statement arguing that:

Libya Set to Try Saif? Not So Fast

Newspaper report on Saif's arrest last November. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

It was fitting that news and commentary on justice in Libya was thoroughly confusing today. The conflict in Libya and the post-Gaddafi era have been rife with contradictory storylines: Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was captured. Wait, he’s touring Tripoli! Abdullah al-Senussi has been detained in the south of the country, but we haven’t heard or seen from him since (he is almost certainly not in Libya). International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo says Libya can try Saif and Senussi but the Pre-Trial Chamber says ‘hold your horses!’

In short, the narratives emerging from Libya as they pertain to the ICC have been anything but coherent. Even for the most keen observers and commentators, it has been tough to keep track of and distinguish between what was information and what was mis-information.

A Done Deal: Bensouda is Next ICC Prosecutor

Fatou Bensouda: the ICC’s next top Prosecutor. Photo: Wikimedia

According to Colum Lynch and a few other observers, current Deputy Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, will become the next top Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court.

Earlier this week, the ICC announced that the four short-listed candidates (Robert Petit of Canada; Andrew Cayley of the UK; Mohamed Chande Othman of Tanzania; and Fatou Bensouda of Gambia), had been whittled down to two.

It has become apparent that the ICC’s Assembly of States Parties wanted to avoid an election by deciding on a “consensus candidate.” Kevin Jon Heller, at Opinio Juris, suggested that the ICC likely conducted informal polling which made clear that a consensus had formed around having an African Prosecutor. Othman subsequently decided to step aside, allowing Bensouda to emerge as the sole candidate for the job. In all likelihood, Othman understood his chances were slim-to-none given that the African Union – which had decided to support an African candidate for Prosecutor – endorsed Bensouda.

Dancing With the Devil – Dealing With Gaddafi

Photo: donjohann/flickr

Sometimes there are articles that simply get under my skin and that create a pesky need to address them individually. John Deverell’s op-ed in The Guardian, There’s no shame in talking to people like Gaddafi, was one of those pieces.

Deverell is a British military figure who notes, with obvious pride, that he was involved in negotiations between the UK and Gaddafi. He is frustrated with a trend of criticizing the British government and institutions over their relationship with Gaddafi:

“it has become politically expedient to decry the relationship fostered since 2003 between the last British government and Gaddafi’s regime.

Former prime minister Tony Blair, officers from the British secret intelligence service, the London School of Economics ( in the news again last week): all have been criticised for the personal relationships they built with senior Libyans, to the extent of being accused of turning a blind eye to human rights and other abuses.”