Later today (May 30, 2012) UN Security Council will meet on Syria for a briefing from Kofi Annan’s Deputy. The Council has already condemned over this weekend the massacre of Houla “in the strongest possible terms.” Kofi Annan told the press in Damascus that “we are at a tipping point” in the Syrian crisis now – that might have been useful news for the more than 10,000 Syrians who have been killed, murdered over the last 16 months presumably prematurely. (Above UN Photo from Yesterday's Meeting between Assad & Annan, and yes it does look very much like previous photos of similar meetings over last couple of months)
Despite tipping points and Annan’s call for “bold steps” from Syria’s dictator Assad, tomorrow’s briefing is not expected to deliver anything new – not even a new bold statement from the UN Security Council. Perhaps asking member states, even those privileged with the responsibility as Permanent Members, to intervene may be perceived by some as placing their own in harms way. However, why has the UNSC failed to refer the matter of Syria to the ICC? Read our Blog for Film – “Can Annan/UN Afford to Look Away from Syria Crimes”.
Despite all the rhetoric and Annan’s calls for the perpetrators of the Houla massacre (and presumably the many others that preceded it) to be held “to account,” some are ideologically opposed to a role for the ICC while probably most want to leave the door open for Assad to leave. Of course, the door has been open for some time, and every empty threat from the Friends of Syria and the UNSC is understood as a lack of resolve and weakness by Assad’s regime.
A referral to the ICC would not target Assad, but rather would initially prompt an investigation to ascertain responsibility of any party for grave violations of international humanitarian law. Outside of outright intervention, it could be the best means to temper the crimes that characterize the conflict. Further, regardless of negotiating skills of Annan or any others that might follow him, it is impossible to foresee a sustainable peace in Syria without the rule of law starting with holding accountable in court those responsible for the crimes committed. Rather than being in contradiction with peace efforts, the rule of law and justice are essential to it.
Failure to refer Syria to the ICC is as much grounded in ideology that links Moscow, Beijing and Washington, all non-parties to the ICC and reluctant to see their discretion limited in the UNSC or beyond by the ICC and the Rule of Law. Over 100 Resolutions and Statements have already been adopted/issued on Syria. Promises of accountability and justice are as insincere as echoes of calls for action. If viewed by the record of 44 months of conflict in Bosnia & Herzegovina and similar rhetoric, Syria still has 200 Resolutions and Presidential Statements to garner before it catches up. Read our Blog for Film – “Kofi Annan Srebrenica Lessons to Syria”
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