Switzerland supports the UN resolution on combating impunity in Syria

Press release, 22.12.2016

The UN General Assembly in New York has decided to set up an independent investigative mechanism, designed to lay the basis for future legal proceedings against those responsible for the most serious breaches of international law in Syria. Right from the outset, Switzerland supported the resolution sponsored by Liechtenstein and welcomes this significant step to combat impunity in Syria.

The resolution sends out an important political signal regarding the observance of human rights and international humanitarian law and the fight against impunity in the armed conflict in Syria, which has been raging for five years. In Switzerland's view, just and lasting peace will only be possible if violations of international law are consistently prosecuted and punished.

The resolution asks the UN Secretary-General to define the framework conditions for the independent investigative mechanism (called "International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of those Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011") within 20 days. This mechanism is intended to support the existing international commission of inquiry set up by the Human Rights Council. The scope of the new mechanism will include gathering, consolidating, preserving and analysing documents and evidence indicative of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

For several years, Switzerland has been committed to combating impunity in Syria, and in 2014 it launched an initiative to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court. So far this initiative has been thwarted by resistance from the UN Security Council. The new resolution is designed to lay foundations that will later enable courts to conduct fair and independent legal proceedings, based on the evidence gathered. Switzerland's commitment to combat impunity is complemented by its humanitarian activities in Syria, its provision of professional expertise in the quest for a political solution, its logistical support to conduct peace negotiations and its promotion of local peace initiatives.

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