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Letter to the United Nations Security Council from 57 Member States requesting Syria be referred to the ICC
 
The following was sent to members of the United Nations Security Council from 57 Member state governments:
 
Already in November 2011, the UN’s independent international Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic documented patterns of summary execution, arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, torture, including sexual violence, as well as violations of children’s rights, and it expressed its grave concern that crimes against humanity had been committed since the beginning of the unrest in the country in March 2011. Since then, the situation on the ground has only become more desperate, with attacks on the civilian population and the commission of atrocities having almost become the norm.
 
Relevant decisions of the Human Rights Council, several appeals of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Final Communiqué of the Action Group that met in Geneva on 30 June 2012 have all put a strong emphasis on accountability and have made it abundantly clear that there should be no impunity for the most serious crimes under international law.
 
While acknowledging that accountability is primarily a national responsibility and that the role of international criminal justice is complementary, we note with regret that the Syrian Arab Republic has, so far, not reacted to repeated calls from the international community to ensure accountability through a national procedure which needs to be credible, fair and independent in order to bring all perpetrators of alleged serious crimes to justice. Without accountability, however, there will be no sustainable peace in Syria.
 
We are firmly of the view that the Security Council must ensure accountability for the crimes that seem to have been and continue to be committed in the Syrian Arab Republic and send a clear signal to the Syrian authorities. Given the competence of the Security Council under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and barring credible and timely measures to establish accountability within the Syrian Arab Republic itself, the most efficient way to ensure accountability in this serious situation would be a referral of the situation to the Court.
 
We therefore ask the Security Council to act by referring 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. At the very least, the Council should send out an unequivocal message urging the Syrian authorities and all other parties to fully respect international human rights and humanitarian law in the ongoing conflict and announcing that it intends to refer the situation to the ICC unless a credible, fair and independent accountability process is being established in a timely manner. We believe that such a warning would have an important dissuasive effect.
 
We would appreciate if this letter could be circulated to all members of the Council.
 
Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.
 
Thomas Gürber
 
See all 57 member states and the full text of the letter here.
See the Human Rights Watch press release on the letter here.
See the Amnesty International response to the letter here.
 
 

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