Gaddafi has little to fear from ICC

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The UN Security Council resolution referring the situation in Libya since 15 February to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is, of course, to be welcomed. But I don’t suppose Muammar Gaddafi will lose much sleep over resolution 1970, adopted unanimously last night. 

Gaddafi did not sign the court’s founding statute and, as so the resolution recognises, Libya has no obligations under it. Neither do the other Middle Eastern states that failed to ratify the Rome Statute.

More to the point, the prosecutor has proved himself incapable of handling even a simple prosecution. Luis Moreno-Ocampo took office in June 2003 and must stand down when his term expires in the middle of next year. He has not yet completed a single trial, let alone achieved a conviction.

The court’s first trial — that of Thomas Lubanga — started more than three years ago. Although the trial court announced last week that it had rejected a defence application to throw out the case as an abuse of process, the hearing still has several months to run.

Moreno-Ocampo’s decision last year to seek the arrest of the Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, on genocide charges has achieved little beyond complaints that the prosecutor was prejudicing his own prosecution.

In a recent column for Standpoint, I explained that former heads of state have no immunity for crimes against their peoples. But bringing them to justice needs more than a UN resolution — particularly one that says (in paragraph 8) that the UN won’t even pay for an investigation.