Gaddafi, Niger and the ICC

The media reports about Gaddafi possibly being in Niger are fascinating.  Firstly, the BBC reporter in Benghazi suggested that a deal might have been done with NATO to allow the guy to cross the desert.  If this is the case then I think it is a reasonable way forward, particularly if it prevents bloodshed in Bani Walid.  And don’t forget there is an ICC arrest warrant for crimes against humanity. To have bombed the convoy would have clearly gone against the right to a fair trial and to have tried to arrest Gaddafi by going in on the ground would have been risky and probably counterproductive.  But this also raises a second point.  Why did Gaddafi choose Niger?  Niger is a state party to the Rome Treaty and is therefore under an obligation to arrest Gaddafi.  Reports that he is on the way to Burkino Faso do not change the situation. It became a state party in 2004.  This does not mean these states should be taking on Gaddafi’s entourage. Not yet at least.  Prudence should always be a factor in fulfilling one’s obligations, in this case launching an arrest operation.  The reports suggest there’s a pretty large force accompanying Libya’s former leader.  It might therefore be wise to wait.  But then all this leads to a third point.  Could this development mean Libya is essentially exporting its instability to other countries?  This would pose another difficult set of questions.

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About Jason Ralph

Jason Ralph, Professor of International Relations, University of Leeds
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