UNSC/ICC: Justice and accountability are the only way forward for lasting peace and security in Syria and the region

14 Jan, 2013 | Press Releases

New York – Brussels – Rome, 14 January 2013

In a joint letter submitted today by Switzerland’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York to the UN Security Council, 57 countries, including France and the United Kingdom, two of the Security Council’s five permanent members, are calling for the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.
If the UN Security Council agrees to refer Syria to the ICC, it would mean that war criminals or at least those suspected of committing crimes against humanity in Syria during the conflict will be prosecuted after being arrested. Syria is not a state party to the ICC. The Court therefore has no jurisdiction to indict its citizens without referral from the Security Council.

Statement by Alison Smith, Legal Counsel and Director of the International Criminal Justice Program of No Peace Without Justice:

“No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT) welcome the joint initiative supported by 57 countries calling on the UN Security Council to refer the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic as of March 2011 to the International Criminal Court (ICC) without exceptions and irrespective of the alleged perpetrators.

“For the past 22 months the news coming from Syria has been linked to gruesome images that leave no doubt in the viewer’s mind: crimes against humanity and war crimes continue to be perpetrated with increasing frequency and total impunity. Despite repeated appeals to President Assad’s Government to stop the violent and bloody crackdown on protesters from International and Regional Organisations, the cause of peace and security so far has not been served. According to the most recent report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), released last week, at least 60,000 people have died in Syria’s civil war, without mentioning the thousands of refugees, countless enforced disappearances and widespread arbitrary arrests and tortures.

“Since the beginning of the conflict, NPWJ and the NRPTT have consistently advocated for sound, impartial and effective accountability and monitoring mechanisms for violations of fundamental individual rights to be put in place, alongside the prosecution of those who bear responsibility for the worst crimes against the civilian population in Syria, in order to allow a peaceful and shared solution to the crisis and a political transition towards democracy. A referral to the ICC would put an end to the prevailing culture of impunity in Syria, signalling in an incisive manner that the International Community is finally stepping up in protecting human rights within Syria and support the efforts of its people to secure justice, the rule of law, and a political process that, for the first time ever, could enable democratic values, liberal institutions and open government within the borders of the country.”

“Justice and accountability are the only way forward for lasting peace and security in Syria and the region. We call on the other UN member states to support this initiative and, in case of a referral, to commit fully the necessary resources and support to any subsequent efforts to investigate crimes and to facilitate the execution of potential arrest warrants. Only through responsive and reliable actions, put in place by a cohesive international community, will it be finally possible to remove the dark clouds looming in the Syrian skies”.

For further information, please contact Alison Smith on asmith@npwj.org or +32-(0)2-548-3912 or Nicola Giovannini on ngiovannini@npwj.org or +32-(0)2-548-3915.