Making world leaders legally accountable via The Hague is a radical development that suddenly looks like it might create a new way of ordering the world.
The Arab Spring revolts have in my view been radical in themselves – challenging deeply intrenched dictatorships in the name of genuine liberty, despite equally deeply entrenched cultural obstacles. They’ve changed the face of the Arab-Israel and Palestinian problems, and put the more stable regimes of the Arab world under serious notice to reform.
Under such pressure, the use of The Hague to prosecute Qaddafi and members of his family, and the (one hopes) impending impeachment of Assad, sends a strong signal of world condemnation that is so much more practical than the usual round of UN criticism and wrist-slapping. Justice is blind, so China and Russia (for example) cannot abstain for tactical advantage, and as with sanctions, ordinary people do not suffer deprivation in lieu of their rich and protected leaders.
I wonder if once warrants for arrests of world leaders are signed, whether it becomes a legitimate action in support of the Court to mount military arrest operations in countries where legitimate government has broken down. Perhaps with the agreement of the opposition which had the majority and some kind of acceptable mandate to claim power – as I think exists now in Libya?
I’d be very interested to see how things would play if Colonel Qaddafi and sons were to emerge from a Dutch police van to answer charges. If nothing else, it would greatly encourage every down-trodden liberal in the many countries where such people are oppressed.