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Kofi Annan at the Brookings Institution

October 31, 2012

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Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan

During his recent visit to the Brookings Institution, I asked former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan about the mass executions of al-Gaddafi loyalists as described in a Human Rights Watch report, Death of a Dictator: Bloody Vengeance in Sirte.

Watch video highlights (or the entire webcast) of Annan’s talk and learn from this elder statesman: A Life in War and Peace: A Statesman’s Forum with Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Kofi Annan at the Brookings Institution

Kofi Annan at the Brookings Institution

I am copying the portion of the transcript showing our exchange below (with corrections to my surname):

MR. SHOUMAN: Mr. Secretary-General, my name is Mohammad Shouman. I’m a GW Law student and a student at SAIS. And I wanted to ask you about Libya again.

Recently, Human Rights Watch produced a report showing in detail, in a report called “Death of a Dictator,” how there were dozens of Qaddafi loyalists who were mass executed. And I was wondering how the international community can encourage the current Libyan government to prosecute what Human Rights Watch described, likely correctly, as war crimes.

MR. ANNAN: I think the situation on the ground in Libya is very difficult. They are trying to establish institutions. Qaddafi did not run the most democratic institution-based regimes, and so these people are starting almost from scratch in many ways. So when we — and we already have this debate going on about Qaddafi’s son, whether he should be tried in Libya or the ICC, and where is he likely to get a fair trial. At the same time, you can’t take everybody to the ICC. You have to have local capacity to deal with these kinds of impunities, and it’s going to take time.

I don’t have a clear answer for you question. I mean, the international community can encourage them and help them set the courts and the systems to be able to deal with this, but it does take time and I don’t see it happening tomorrow. But ICC is seized on the situation, particularly in the case of some of the prominent ones. I’m not sure what his view will be on this.

And we face a situation in Kenya where you have institutions, but four Kenyans are before the ICC. But there were thousands or hundreds involved in the massacre and the displacement of the 650,000 or the 1,300 who were killed. And we’ve been pressing for five years that they set up a local tribunal to deal with all this who are not at the Hague . . . .

I bought his recent book, Interventions: A Life in War and Peace. I look forward to reading it.

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