Breakthrough resolution on Syria won’t break the cycle of impunity and violence

Press release
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The United Nations (UN) Security Council has adopted a resolution today calling on Syria to comply with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for the destruction of its chemical weapons.

This is the first resolution the UN Security Council has passed on the situation in Syria since April 2012, when it mandated a UN mission to observe the implementation of a ceasefire plan. Despite the clear failure of this proposed ceasefire, resulting in now over 100,000 deaths and more than 2 million Syrian refugees, the UN Security Council has since failed to take any appropriate action.

Although the destruction of chemical weapons is important, the resolution that was adopted today falls terribly short of ensuring the protection of Syria’s population from the attacks and crimes that continue everyday. In particular, FIDH condemns the fact that this resolution does not establish any mechanisms of accountability for the international crimes perpetrated against the Syrian people.

If those most responsible for the international crimes committed in Syria are not brought to justice, this will be a tacit endorsement for escalating massacres and other international crimes,” stated Karim Lahidji, President of FIDH.

Human rights groups, including FIDH, have been urging the UN Security Council for over 2 years to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [1]. This was echoed in a letter addressed to the UN Security Council on 14 January 2013 by Switzerland and co-signed by 56 other countries [2].

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has also repeatedly called for an ICC referral in the case of Syria, and several heads of state again insisted on accountability in Syria during the UN General Assembly held this past week in New York. Nevertheless, the UN Security Council continues to ignore these urgent calls.

By refusing to include a referral to the ICC or any other accountability mechanism in today’s resolution, the UN Security Council has again failed to put an end to the cycle of violence in Syria,” Karim Lahidji added.

Although today’s resolution does state that those responsible for the use of chemical weapons “should be held accountable,” it includes no actual mechanisms for accountability. FIDH again insists that the UN Security Council must adopt concrete measures to ensure justice for Syria’s victims and the prevention of future crimes.

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