25 ICRtoP Members Sign Letter Urging Security Council to Refer Situation in Syria to the ICC
Human Rights Watch
15 May 2014
(New York) – Over one hundred civil society groups from around the world issued the following statement today to urge the United Nations Security Council to approve a resolution to refer the situation in Syria to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court:
We, the undersigned civil society groups, urge United Nations Security Council members to approve a draft resolution supported by a broad coalition of countries that would refer the situation in Syria to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
(…)Neither Syrian authorities nor the leaders of non-state armed groups have taken any meaningful steps to ensure accountability for past and ongoing grave human rights crimes. The failure to hold those responsible for these violations to account has only fueled further atrocities by all sides. Against this background, we believe the ICC is the forum most capable of effectively investigating and prosecuting the people who bear the greatest responsibility for serious crimes and of offering a measure of justice for victims in Syria.
The latest report from the UN’s Syria Commission of Inquiry, published on March 5, 2014, also found that all sides to the Syria conflict continued to commit serious crimes under international law and held that the Security Council was failing to take action to end the state of impunity. The commission, which has published seven in-depth reports since its establishment in August 2011, recommended that the Security Council give the ICC a mandate to investigate abuses in Syria
The need for accountability in Syria through the ICC has likewise been supported by more than 60 UN member countries, representing all regions of world, including 10 of the current members of the Security Council. We urge all Security Council members to heed this call for justice. Other countries should publicly support the draft resolution and warn Russia and China against using their veto power to obstruct accountability for violations by all sides.
As a permanent international court with a mandate to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity when national authorities are unable or unwilling to do so, the ICC was created to address exactly the type of situation that exists in Syria today. Though the court's work can be only one piece of the larger accountability effort needed in Syria, it is a crucial first step.
We therefore strongly urge Security Council members to urgently act to fill the accountability gap in Syria. The people of Syria cannot afford further disappointment or delay.
Read the full letter, as well as the list of signatories, here.