Switzerland asks the UN Security Council to refer the serious crimes committed in Syria to the International Criminal Court
Bern, 14.01.2013 - The numerous allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Syria need to be investigated and those responsible on all sides of the conflict brought before court. Switzerland, supported by 56 other countries, lodged this request with the UN Security Council in a letter on 14 January 2013. The best means of ensuring justice would be to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Switzerland is convinced that no lasting peace is possible in Syria without taking consistent action against impunity.
After almost two years of bitter and bloody fighting the humanitarian situation in Syria continues to deteriorate further. The conflict has already claimed around 60,000 lives, predominantly civilians, and there is still no political solution in sight. In view of this dramatic situation and the lack of any signs of an improvement, Switzerland wishes this letter to send a clear signal that basic humanitarian values should be respected and justice upheld. The appeal is intended both to remind the victims of the conflict that they have not been forgotten and as a warning to the warring parties that they should put a stop to the violence and respect human rights and international humanitarian law. 56 countries have joined this appeal to the Security Council.
The Swiss initiative is of an exclusively humanitarian nature and is impartial. It espouses only the cause of justice. Those responsible on all sides of the conflict should be brought to justice. Although prime responsibility for bringing alleged perpetrators to justice lies with the Syrian authorities, they have made no efforts to investigate the allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes in fair and independent legal proceedings. Consequently, justice can only be expected from the International Criminal Court. As Syria is not a state party to the ICC founding statute, referral to the Criminal Court requires a decision of the Security Council.
The letter is a petition as the sole authority to decide on such a referral lies with the Security Council. Nonetheless, regardless of the outcome, the letter sends a strong signal against impunity and shows that a significant number of countries are not willing to tolerate crimes against humanity and war crimes.
For further details:
Head of FDFA Information
+41 (0)79 763 84 10
Spokesperson of the Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations, New York
+1 (917) 757 3389
Address for enquiries
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53
Federal Department of Foreign Affairs