awful news from Benghazi prompts our community to review the international law landscape.
And my students and I did in Public International Law yesterday.
► The customary norm that obligates host states to protect foreign diplomats from harm. The norm's been self-evident as long ago as the 1780s Marbois incident, under study as part of our consideration of the Alien Tort Statute in preparation for the Supreme Court's October 1 reargument of Kiobel.
► Treaties like the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The treaties have, respectively, 187 and 173 states parties – including, since the 1970s, both Libya and the United States. The treaties formed a basis for the United States' filing against Iran, a matter the International Court of Justice decided in 1980. Article 22 of the diplomatic relations treaty mandates that "[t]he premises of the mission shall be inviolable," and that the host state shoulders "a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity."
En route to my International Criminal Law class later in the day, another thought came to mind:
► The International Criminal Court is empowered to act in Libya.
That's been the case since for more than a year: U.N. Security Council Resolution 1970 referred to the ICC the situation in Libya. (map credit) Paragraph 4 of the Resolution 1970 specified a start date of February 15, 2011 – but no end date, and Council resolutions on Libya, even after the post-Gaddafi regime, have made note of that referral. (IntLawGrrls' Libya posts here.)
Seems, then, that if tragic events were to meet the elements of, say, a crime against humanity, and if individual suspects were to be identified (questions to which it's far too early to give answers), it would seem within the ICC's power to investigate.
Whether it would do so – given both the U.S. commitment itself to pursue Tuesday's wrongdoers, not to mention the new Libya's tense relationship with the ICC – is another matter altogether.