The terrible conflict in Syria has been raging for six years. Again and again, we hear reports of the gravest violations of international law by Islamist terrorist groups and by the Assad regime. “The perpetrators must never feel they are beyond the reach of the law,” declared Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel as he pledged one million euros to support United Nations measures to investigate and prosecute these crimes.
Most horrendous conflict of our time
What started out on 15 March 2011 with peaceful protests against a repressive government has developed into the most horrendous conflict of our time, claiming over 400,000 lives to date. Half of the Syrian population has fled, and hundreds of thousands, under siege and cut off from humanitarian assistance, are being starved. Civilian infrastructure is being subjected to repeated aerial attacks. There are widespread accusations of torture.
Bring the perpetrators to justice
“We cannot sit idly by as human rights are disregarded and international humanitarian law is repeatedly violated in Syria,” Foreign Minister Gabriel said in Berlin on the anniversary of the start of the protests. The groundwork had to be laid now, he continued, so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice.
To this end, Gabriel has pledged financial support to UN Secretary‑General Guterres for the new 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 Syria. Germany will provide one million euros to support its work.
Long‑standing commitment to investigation
As early as 2014, Germany co‑sponsored a UN resolution which would have referred the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. It failed because of the veto by Russia and China. There is already also an Independent International Commission on Inquiry on Syria in the UN Human Rights Council, of which Germany is currently a member. So this latest pledge is the continuation of a long-standing German commitment to investigating and prosecuting violations of international law.
Return to negotiations
After six years of war, Foreign Minister Gabriel called for earnest negotiations and for a willingness on all sides to compromise, in order to end the horror being experienced by the Syrian people: “Despite all the setbacks, we need to continue our work to ensure the negotiations in Geneva to bring about a peaceful solution to the conflict in Syria are continued.”