By Natasha Harrington, pupil barrister (Essex Court Chambers, London)

On 27th June 2011, the Pre-trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for Muammar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi (see here). The Court found reasonable grounds to believe that the three have committed crimes against humanity by murder contrary to article 7(1)(a) and persecution of opponents to the Gaddafi regime contrary to article 7(1)(h) of the Rome Statute.

Muammar Gaddafi has become the second serving head of state, following President Al-Basheer of the Sudan, to face prosecution by the ICC, where state officials are not immune from prosecution. Libya is not a State Party to the Rome Statute. Therefore, the jurisdiction of the Court is based on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970, referring the situation in Libya to the ICC as of 15th February 2011, in accordance with article 13(b) of the Rome Statute.

In contrast, no investigation or charges have been brought against any members of the National Transitional Council (NTC), despite a report from the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights that cited evidence of serious abuses by NTC forces. Nevertheless, Gaddafi has made clear his intention to use the Libyan State courts for this purpose, and to try the NATO member states for war crimes.

Justice 1: 0 Peace?

If Gaddafi and his close associates do not relinquish power and slip away it may take NATO and the NTC many more weeks and months to remove them, and in the process Libyan civilians and the unity of their country will suffer the most. Many are now questioning whether the ICC arrest warrants are a triumph for justice at the expense of peace because, in the words of the Italian Foreign Minister, once a warrant is issued ‘from that moment on an exit from power or from the country will no longer be imaginable’.

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By Abebe, A.Mulugeta
Many have been criticizing, sometimes unfairly, the response of the African Union to the human rights situation in Libya. But several organs of the organization including its Peace and Security Council, the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights and now the African Court on Human and Peoples have swiftly reacted by condemning the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in that country.

The decision on provisional measures taken by the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights on 25 March 2011 (available here) is particularly significant as its represents the first “ judicial” response to the human rights situation in Libya. It is also important as it is only the second ruling of this new court and the first one based on an application by the Commission.

Following the crisis, the African Commission on Human and Peoples rights, based on various complaints it received mainly from NGOs, examined the situation and adopted a resolution. In this resolution which the Commission issued during its 9th extraordinary session held between 23 February to 3 March 2011 (ACHPR 181 EXTR.OS(IX) 2001), the Commission expressed its concern about “ serious and massive human rights violations resulting from the blind and indiscriminate use of force, in particular through aerial bombings, the recourse to mercenaries to suppress peaceful demonstrations and the legitimate protests of the citizens.” It strongly condemned the “ divisionist speech including by the head of state of Libya and expressed alarm at what it considered to be a “ huge loss of life,” and a massive displacement of populations. It thus “invited” the Libyan authorities to immediately stop the violations and called the international community and the African Union to take all the necessary “political and legal” measures. The Commission, though not clearly authorized under the Charter, has been issuing similar resolutions which are intended to reflect its positions on unfolding human rights events among member states.

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We are happy to announce the publication of a research paper in the Surrey Law Working Paper Series dealing with the 2003 United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the 2003 African Union Convention on Corruption (AUC).

The abstract reads as follows:

Adopted in 2003, the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AUC), and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) are the most recent examples of international initiatives aiming at tackling corruption.
The adoption of  these conventions is an important step in the fight against corruption and this working paper considers to what extent they represent a strong basis for tackling corruption, as well as why strong implementation measures remain essential. Section 1, examines the scope of the two conventions, highlights the lack of a legal definition of corruption as well as strong similarities with regards to the conventions’ objectives, and considers the limits of the means of actions provided by the conventions. Section 2 examines how practical measures such as codes of conduct, asset declarations, social and economic reforms, reliance on the private sector or cooperation, are suitable to tackle corruption. The paper concludes with the argument that strict implementation of existing measures remains the best mean to fight corruption in developing countries.

A. Martin, Implementation as the Best Way to Tackle Corruption: A Study of the UNCAC and the AUC 2003 (February 1, 2011). Surrey Law Working Paper No. 07/2011.

The full research paper can be downloaded here.

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