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Mon Feb 18, 2013, 09:48 AM

Time to refer Syrian war crimes to ICC, UN inquiry says

Source: Reuters

(Reuters) - United Nations investigators said on Monday that Syrian leaders they had identified as suspected war criminals should face the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The investigators urged the U.N. Security Council to "act urgently to ensure accountability" for violations, including murder and torture, committed by both sides in a conflict that has killed an estimated 70,000 people since a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad began in March, 2011.

"Now really it's time...We have a permanent court, the International Criminal Court, who would be ready to take this case," Carla del Ponte, a former ICC chief prosecutor who joined the U.N. team in September, told a news briefing in Geneva.

The inquiry, led by Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, is tracing the chain of command to establish criminal responsibility.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/18/us-syria-crisis-warcrimes-idUSBRE91H06920130218

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Reply Time to refer Syrian war crimes to ICC, UN inquiry says (Original post)
oberliner Feb 2013 OP
dipsydoodle Feb 2013 #1
oberliner Feb 2013 #2
dipsydoodle Feb 2013 #3
oberliner Feb 2013 #4
David__77 Feb 2013 #6
oberliner Feb 2013 #8
jzodda Feb 2013 #5
christx30 Feb 2013 #7

Response to oberliner (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 10:01 AM

1. The only problem may be

that Syria is not a member of ICC. The US is not member either.

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Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 11:38 AM

2. Syria is a member

They signed the treaty in 2000.

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Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #3)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 12:11 PM

4. They signed it but haven't ratified it

Here is the UN link:

http://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=XVIII-10&chapter=18&lang=en

And as to what that signature means:

The most common objection to the ICC recommendation was that a referral was impossible without UN Security Council agreement which would not be forthcoming. The argument is straightforward. Syria is not a state party to the ICC. The Court therefore has no jurisdication to indict its citizens without referral from the Security Council. Russian and Chinese support for Damascus means that the Security Council will not authorize such a referral. The ICC, therefore, can not play a role and an ultimatum would be an empty bluff. I was aware of all this when I wrote the report, obviously, so why did I nevertheless call for referrring Syrian officials to the ICC?

First, there actually is a legal argument for involving the ICC even if the Security Council stays blocked, which rests on the fact that Syria, unlike Libya, is a signatory to the Treaty of Rome even if it has not acceded to the Court. Its 2000 signature does create some obligations, as a colleague of mine explains:

"the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT) governs the obligations of states that have signed but not ratified a treaty. Article 18 says they must "refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purpose of a treaty" (unless they have signaled their intent not to ratify it). That would seem to be the legal obligation on Syria at this point."

Another international lawyer friend of mine proposes a second path (*):

"if the Syrian National Council were recognized as the legitimate representative of Syria, then this could support an article 12(3) filing by the SNC to the ICC to accept jurisdiction for the conflict here--they can do this without formal ratification of the Rome Statute (and the fact that Syria did sign the treaty could help give this some legal heft), and it would then allow an initiation of an investigation without the SC."

http://lynch.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/03/04/syria_and_the_icc

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Response to oberliner (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:03 AM

6. The US falls into the same category.

I don't think that signature without ratification will be taken to create obligations under a treaty. That would be very odd. At this UN document seems to agree: http://www.unicef.org/crc/files/Definitions.pdf

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Response to David__77 (Reply #6)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 06:01 AM

8. Interesting

I guess we will have to see how this plays out.

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Response to oberliner (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 03:10 PM

5. Not going to happen

The investigators urged the U.N. Security Council to "act urgently to ensure accountability"

I think the above statement from the article says it all. There is no way right now that the Russians will go along with this. There are probably people on that list that have direct dealings with Russian arms dealers.

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Response to jzodda (Reply #5)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 06:49 AM

7. And even if,

by some miracle, they were able to get the Russians on board, they'd never be able to enforce it without military action against the government of Syria.
I could order someone to go get me a bag of chips. But without being able to enforce the order, the other person can say no, and all I could say is "Please?"

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