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How ICC warrants could change NATO strikes in Libya

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The ICC's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, announced yesterday that he is seeking warrants for the arrest of Mr. Qaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and his intelligence chief for "crimes against humanity." According to the Associated Press, "the legal action has been seen in Libya as giving NATO more justification to go after him."

The stated goal is to isolate Qaddafi and his close associates, but ICC warrants are only effective if the accused individuals venture into a country that recognizes the court's jurisdiction. A wide range of countries do not recognize the its jurisdiction, however, including the US and many African and Middle Eastern nations – where Qaddafi is most likely to travel.

A person accused by the ICC can still lead a country – there has been a warrant out for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir since 2009. He has continued governing and sometimes travels to other countries that will not turn him over to the court.

The Libyan government recognizes that the warrant only undermines Qaddafi's rule as much as he lets it, according to the Tripoli Post.

Claiming that the ICC was a “baby of the European Union designed for African politicians and leaders,” and that its practices were “questionable,” Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Kaim said Libya does not recognize the court’s ... jurisdiction. He said that like most African countries and the United States, Libya ... would ignore any such announcement.

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