ICC ready to reinvestigate Libya, but is the world?

24 September 2014 by Christopher Stephen, Tripoli (Libya)

Just when The Hague thought it was finished with Libya, the International Criminal Court finds itself preparing fresh investigations for the strife-torn country.

Judges at the ICC failed to persuade Libya to hand over two high-profile suspects indicted for war crimes during the Arab spring’s revolution against Muammar Gaddafi, and court officials assumed they had wrapped up business with the north African country. But the return of war, this time between the victorious militias, prompted the UN in August to urge a new round of investigations. The big question is whether the ICC will get the international support necessary for prosecutions to proceed.

The ICC was first ordered to investigate Libya in 2011, when Gaddafi’s forces were pummelling civilians and rebel fighters. Now those rebels, divided into two broad camps – one Islamist, the other not – battle for control as the country slides into anarchy. Alarmed at violence that has created 250,000 refugees and seen Islamists seize Tripoli, the UN Security Council urged prosecutions in its resolution 2174. The resolution is written as a reminder rather than an instruction, stating that the ICC has responsibility for “holding accountable those responsible for violations or abuses of human rights or violations of international humanitarian law”. 

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