Syria - Groups Call for ICC Referral

by Reporters Without Borders | Reporters Without Borders
Thursday, 15 May 2014 11:29 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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).

More than three years into a conflict that has claimed well over 100,000 lives, according to the United Nations, atrocity crimes are being committed with complete impunity by all sides in the conflict, with no end in sight.

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.

Co-signing organizations in alphabetical order : Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture, France Amnesty International, Benin Advocates for Public International Law, Uganda Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Egypt Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, Australia Act for Peace, Australia Arab Coalition for Sudan, Sudan Arab Program for Human Rights Activists,Egypt Arab-European Center Of Human Rights And International Law, Norway Arab Foundation for Development and Citizenship, United Kingdom Andalus Institute for Tolerance and anti-Violence Studies, Egypt Benin Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Benin Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Egypt Campaña Colombiana Contra Minas, Colombia Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding, Liberia Child Soldiers International, United Kingdom Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Belgium Club des Amis du Droit du Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo Coalition Ivoirienne pour la Cour Penale Internationale, Cote d’Ivoire Colombian Commission of Jurists, Colombia Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, South Sudan Conflict Monitoring Center, Pakistan Congress of National Minorities of Ukraine, Ukraine Comité Catholique Contre la Faim et Pour le Développement - Terre Solidaire, France Comision Mexicana de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos, Mexico Comision de Derechos Humanos, Peru CSO Network, Western Kenya Dawlaty Foundation, Lebanon Democracia Global, Argentina East Africa Law Society, Tanzania Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Egypt Elman Peace and Human Rights Center, Somalia Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network FN-forbundet / Danish United Nations Association, Denmark Franciscans International Fundación de Antropología Forense, Guatemala Friends For a NonViolent World, United States Georgian Young Lawyers Association, Georgia Genocide Alert, Germany Global, United States Global Justice Center, United States Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, United States Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Denmark Horiyat for Development and Human Rights, Libya Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation, The Netherlands Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo, Kosovo Human Rights First, United States Human Rights Watch International Justice Project, United States International Commission of Jurists, Kenya International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, Nigeria International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, United States International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture, France International Center for Policy and Conflict, Kenya Insan, Lebanon Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, United States Justice Without Frontiers, Lebanon Kenya Human Rights Commission, Kenya La Coalition Burundaise pour la Cour Penale Internationale, Burundi Lira NGO Forum, Uganda Ligue pour la Paix, les Droits de l’Homme et la Justice, Democratic Republic of Congo Media Foundation for West Africa, Ghana Minority Rights Group International, United Kingdom National Youth Action, Inc., Liberia No Peace Without Justice, Italy Norwegian People’s Aid, Norway Optimum Travail du Burkina, Burkina Faso Open Society Justice Initiative Pakistan Body Count, Pakistan PAX, The Netherlands Pax Christi International Parliamentarians for Global Action El Equipo Peruano de Antropología Forense, Peru Physicians for Human Rights, United States Pak Institute for Peace Studies, Pakistan REDRESS, United Kingdom Reporters Without Borders, France Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme (Raddho-Guinée), Guinea Reseau Equitas, Côte d'Ivoire Samir Kassir Foundation, Lebanon Southern Africa Litigation Centre, South Africa South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law, South Africa Syrian Network for Human Rights, United Kingdom Syria Justice & Accountability Center, The Netherlands Syrian Nonviolence Movement, France Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, United Kingdom Synergie des ONGs Congolaises pour la lutte contre les Violences Sexuelles, Democratic Republic of Congo Synergie des ONGs Congolaises pour les Victimes, Democratic Republic of Congo The International Federation for Human Rights, France The Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law, Sierra Leone The Association of Political Scientists, Greece The Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention, Canada The Igarape Institute, Brazil The Arab World Center for Democratic Development, Jordan The United Nations Association of Sweden, Sweden United to End Genocide, United States Vision GRAM-International, Canada Violations Documentation Center, Syria Wake Up Genève for Syria, Switzerland West Africa Civil Society Institute, Ghana West African Bar Association, Nigeria World Federalist Movement, Canada World Federation of United Nations Associations Womens’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Switzerland Zarga Organization for Rural Development, Sudan