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[Press Release] SYRIA: More than 100 NGOs Call for ICC Referral

May 2014

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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:

  1. Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture, France
  2. Advocates for Public International Law, Uganda
  3. Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Egypt
  4. Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, Australia
  5. Act for Peace, Australia
  6. Arab Coalition for Sudan, Sudan
  7. Arab Program for Human Rights Activists,Egypt
  8. Arab-European Center Of Human Rights And International Law, Norway
  9. Arab Foundation for Development and Citizenship, United Kingdom
  10. Andalus Institute for Tolerance and anti-Violence Studies, Egypt
  11. Benin Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Benin
  12. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Egypt
  13. Campaña Colombiana Contra Minas, Colombia
  14. Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding, Liberia
  15. Child Soldiers International, United Kingdom
  16. Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Belgium
  17. Club des Amis du Droit du Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo
  18. Coalition Ivoirienne pour la Cour Penale Internationale, Cote d’Ivoire
  19. Colombian Commission of Jurists, Colombia
  20. Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, South Sudan
  21. Conflict Monitoring Center, Pakistan
  22. Congress of National Minorities of Ukraine, Ukraine
  23. Comité Catholique Contre la Faim et Pour le Développement - Terre Solidaire, France
  24. Comision Mexicana de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos, Mexico
  25. Comision de Derechos Humanos, Peru
  26. CSO Network, Western Kenya
  27. Dawlaty Foundation, Lebanon
  28. Democracia Global, Argentina
  29. East Africa Law Society, Tanzania
  30. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Egypt
  31. Elman Peace and Human Rights Center, Somalia
  32. Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network
  33. FN-forbundet / Danish United Nations Association, Denmark
  34. Franciscans International
  35. Fundación de Antropología Forense, Guatemala
  36. Friends For a NonViolent World, United States
  37. Georgian Young Lawyers Association, Georgia
  38. Genocide Alert, Germany
  39. GlobalSolutions.org, United States
  40. Global Justice Center, United States
  41. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, United States
  42. Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Denmark
  43. Horiyat for Development and Human Rights, Libya
  44. Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation, The Netherlands
  45. Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo, Kosovo
  46. Human Rights First, United States
  47. Human Rights Watch
  48. International Justice Project, United States
  49. International Commission of Jurists, Kenya
  50. International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, Nigeria
  51. International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, United States
  52. International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (FIACAT), France
  53. International Center for Policy and Conflict, Kenya
  54. Insan, Lebanon
  55. Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, United States
  56. Justice Without Frontiers, Lebanon
  57. Kenya Human Rights Commission, Kenya
  58. La Coalition Burundaise pour la Cour Penale Internationale, Burundi
  59. Lira NGO Forum, Uganda
  60. Ligue pour la Paix, les Droits de l’Homme et la Justice, Democratic Republic of Congo
  61. Media Foundation for West Africa, Ghana
  62. Minority Rights Group International, United Kingdom
  63. National Youth Action, Inc., Liberia
  64. No Peace Without Justice, Italy
  65. Norwegian People’s Aid, Norway
  66. Optimum Travail du Burkina, Burkina Faso
  67. Open Society Justice Initiative
  68. Pakistan Body Count, Pakistan
  69. PAX, The Netherlands
  70. Pax Christi International
  71. Parliamentarians for Global Action
  72. El Equipo Peruano de Antropología Forense, Peru
  73. Physicians for Human Rights, United States
  74. Pak Institute for Peace Studies, Pakistan
  75. REDRESS, United Kingdom
  76. Reporters without Borders, France
  77. Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme (Raddho-Guinée), Guinea
  78. Reseau Equitas, Cote D’Ivoire
  79. Samir Kassir Foundation, Lebanon
  80. Southern Africa Litigation Centre, South Africa
  81. South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law, South Africa
  82. Syrian Network for Human Rights, United Kingdom
  83. Syria Justice & Accountability Center, The Netherlands
  84. Syrian Nonviolence Movement, France
  85. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, United Kingdom
  86. Synergie des ONGs Congolaises pour la lutte contre les Violences Sexuelles, Democratic Republic of Congo
  87. Synergie des ONGs Congolaises pour les Victimes, Democratic Republic of Congo
  88. The International Federation for Human Rights, France
  89. The Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law, Sierra Leone
  90. The Association of Political Scientists, Greece
  91. The Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention, Canada
  92. The Igarape Institute, Brazil
  93. The Arab World Center for Democratic Development, Jordan
  94. The United Nations Association of Sweden, Sweden
  95. United to End Genocide, United States
  96. Vision GRAM-International, Canada
  97. Violations Documentation Center, Syria
  98. Wake Up Genève for Syria, Switzerland
  99. West Africa Civil Society Institute, Ghana
  100. West African Bar Association, Nigeria
  101. World Federalist Movement, Canada
  102. World Federation of United Nations Associations
  103. Womens’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Switzerland
  104. Zarga Organization for Rural Development, Sudan
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