Qaddafi Charged With Crimes Against Humanity

Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi arrives at the Rixos hotel in the capital Tripoli on March 8, 2011. Earlier in the day Kadhafi warned of dire consequences for North Africa and Europe if there was any Western interference in his country's affairs, in a telephone conversation with the Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou. AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD TURKIA (Photo credit should read MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images) Photo: MAHMUD TURKIA/2011 AFP

As rebel fighters slowly advance on his home base of Tripoli and NATO continues an air campaign against his regime, now Colonel Muammar Qaddafi also faces another threat: the threat of prosecution. The International Criminal Court located in the Hague has issued arrest warrants for Qaddafi and two of his sons for the crimes against humanity they perpetrated against Libyan civilians between February 15 and February 18, before the country erupted into an all-out civil war. Now, obviously, this doesn't mean that Qaddafi is going to actually be arrested anytime soon. The ICC doesn't have a police force, and NATO is more focused on trying to kill Qaddafi outright. So what effect will the warrants actually have?

[D]iplomats have also made it clear they see arrest warrants as useful tools against politicians identified as potential war criminals. Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, who is wanted by the court on genocide charges, remains strong at home, but he has skipped a number of international meetings to avoid the possibility of arrest. Even leaders from countries friendly to Mr. Bashir have kept him away by saying envoys from other countries would stay away from gatherings if he were present.

So at the very least, other world leaders won't be forced to endure any awkward social interactions with Qaddafi after the war if, somehow, he hangs on to power. That's not nothing.

Hague Court Issues Warrant for Qaddafi for War Crimes [NYT]