UN approves investigation of Syria war crimes

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution (PDF) Dec. 21 to establish an independent panel to investigate possible war crimes in Syria. The resolution, approved by a vote of 105 to 15 with 52 abstentions, will establish an "International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Those Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011." The mechanism will work closely with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, established by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011. The resolution:

Calls upon all States, all parties to the conflict as well as civil society to cooperate fully with the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism and the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic to effectively fulfil their respective mandates and, in particular, to provide them with any information and documentation they may possess, as well as any other forms of assistance pertaining to their respective mandates.

The Commission of Inquiry has repeatedly called for referral to the International Criminal Court, which has been blocked by Russia and China.

From Jurist, Dec. 22. Used with permission.

Note: The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria warned two years ago that the conflict threatens whole region, and has been keeping an exacting record of casualties in the conflict. The total death toll in the Syrian war is now placed at nearly a half million, up from a quarter million just a year ago. Many now accuse the Assad regime of genocide, pointing out that the scale of its crimes far exceeds that of ISIS.

  1. Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba betray Syria

    Human Rights Watch provides a list of the countries that votes against the resolution calling for a Syria war crimes investigation. They include Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Cuba. As we noted when the same parties voted against the General Assembly resolution calling for a halt to Aleppo siege earlier this month—the case of Nicaragua is particularly depressing. This is the same country (and under the same president, Daniel Ortega) that in 1986 won a World Court ruling against the US for crimes that were horrific enough but pale beside those now being committed by Assad.

    Also voting against the resolution is South Sudan—supposedly in the US pocket. This was doubltess motivated by fear of setting a precedent for an investigation of war crimes within South Sudan.