China-Russia disgraceful Veto in the Security Council blocks ICC Referral of the Syrian Situation

In a disgraceful move, Russia and China vetoed no less than accountability in Syria today at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) by rejecting an unprecedented resolution proposed by France and Lithuania referring the situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The abuse of Russia and China’s veto powers - granted by their position as permanent members of the Security Council - prevents the international community from responding to international crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, in the Syrian conflict. 

«The veto of China and Russia today at the UNSC further isolated them from the consensus built at all UN levels condemning Syrian human rights abuses and atrocities» said Karim Lahidji, FIDH President. « Referring the situation in Syria to the ICC is the only way to ensure accountability for the atrocities committed against Syrian people. This double veto is an affront to victims and proves the need to reform the UNSC towards restraint of the use of the veto in mass atrocity situations. », he added. 

Since 2011, FIDH has been calling the UNSC to adopt a resolution referring the Syrian situation to the ICC in order to ensure accountability for international crimes committed during the conflict, in which it is estimated that more than 150,000 people have already lost their lives. While Syria has not ratified the Rome Statute, the treaty establishing the ICC allows for the UNSC to refer a situation in a non State party to the Statute

« The ICC is the most legitimate and appropriate mechanism to seek justice in Syria. Russia and China vetoed a resolution that provides a basis to hold both sides accountable for the commission of widely documented crimes against humanity and war crimes. » stressed Shawan Jabarin, FIDH Vice-President.

FIDH recalls that a referral to the ICC should nevertheless respect the provisions of the Rome Statute and other international standards, in particular regarding cooperation and immunities. The text not only sought to exclude nationals from non States parties (except for Syrian citizens) from the jurisdiction of the ICC but also to limit the obligation for non States parties to cooperate with the Court.

Anybody responsible for the atrocities committed in Syria must face justice, regardless of their nationality. The UNSC has the power and the duty to ensure such equality before the law, declared Patrick Baudouin, FIDH Honorary President.

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