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Home country: USA
Current location: Southern California
Member since: Sun Mar 20, 2011, 12:05 PM
Number of posts: 44,957

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Why Hasnít Assad Been Charged With War Crimes?

Given the allegations currently being leveled at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, readers might be wondering why Assad and his senior commanders have not been charged with war crimes by the International Criminal Court like leaders such as Libyaís Muammar Qaddafi and Sudanís Omar al-Bashir. After all, the court was specifically set up to ďhave the power to exercise its jurisdiction over persons for the most serious crimes of international concern,Ē and last monthís chemical attacks certainly fit the bill. A number of NGOs and dozens of countries have called for such a prosecution.

Unfortunately, international law is once again protecting Assadís violations of international law. Syria is not a state party to the ICC (neither, for what itís worth, is the United States) and therefore its prosecutors donít have jurisdiction over crimes committed there. For Assad to be charged by the ICC, he would have to be referred by the U.N. Security Council which, as with an authorization for military intervention, isnít going to happen as long as Russia and China have seats. Marc Lynch discussed a few other possible avenues for Assadís prosecution a few weeks ago, but for now, a prosecution seems extremely unlikely, even as the Syrian government commits exactly the sort of crimes the court was set up to deal with.

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