"When Libyan authorities arrested four ICC staffers, they created what could become a make-or-break moment for the court's ability to work in ongoing crises. (...)
That matters, because the ICC's intended role is to "put an end to impunity for the perpetrators" of atrocities and "contribute to the prevention of such crimes." The court is expected to serve a particularly important function in places where weak, unreliable, or non-existent political and judicial institutions make trials impossible. In theory, the ICC, backed by its international mandate and cloaked in the protection of the international community, will be able to adjudicate war crimes and other mass atrocities in places where local attorneys and judges could never safely do so. But if the court is unable to safely conduct investigations, meet with witnesses, or ensure that defendants receive proper legal representation, it won't be able to adjudicate its way out of a paper bag.
The ICC is a young institution, and the outcome in Libya will signal whether the court can truly effect change in countries in crisis. If the court's involvement provides an opportunity for spoilers to destabilize the balance of power, then it cannot reliably promote peace in these sorts of situations. In that case, the court's future could be limited to addressing already-iver crises in relatively stable countries. If, that is, it has a future at all.
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