Syria: NPWJ applauds adoption of UNGA resolution as a concrete step towards securing accountability for the crimes committed

22 Dec, 2016 | Press Releases

Brussels – Rome, 22 December 2016

On Wednesday, 21 December 2016, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted to establish a mechanism to assist in the investigation and prosecution of crimes under international law and human rights violations in Syria since March 2011, with 105 votes in favour, 15 against and 52 abstentions. “After years of political deadlock at the Security Council, and their seeming impotence in the face of what has been happening recently in Aleppo in particular, this action by the General Assembly comes as a breath of fresh air”, said Alison SmithNPWJ’s International Criminal Justice Director. “While the proof will ultimately be in the pudding, this very concrete step towards securing accountability for the crimes committed in Syria shows much-needed leadership by the General Assembly.”

During the Security Council special session on the situation on Aleppo on 13 December, many Security Council members mentioned the need to ensure accountability, which was echoed in the UNSC Resolution that was also adopted yesterday on the delivery of humanitarian aid. “We appreciated that many Council members called for accountability during the special session last week and that this was reiterated in their most recent resolution on Syria”, Ms Smith continued. “But ultimately, accountability was taking a back seat, which we fear threatens its inclusion in a political solution to the conflict. The General Assembly, guided by the leadership of Liechtenstein and other co-sponsors of yesterday’s UNGA resolution, have put accountability back into the mix”.

The resolution’s adoption comes just days after United Nations Syria mediator Staffan de Mistura announced his intention to reconvene peace talks in Geneva in February 2017. “We very much hope that the adoption of this Resolution and the establishment of this new mechanism can contribute to ensuring that accountability is part of any political solution discussed in Geneva. Part of the international community is finally responding to the quest of the Syrian people for justice; we look to those involved in the talks to ensure it remains front and centre in efforts to bring an end to the conflict”, Ms Smith concluded.