Side Event on "Accountability Options for Syria"

15th ASP to the ICC, The Hague, 19 November 2016


In the margins of the 15th Session of the International Criminal Court Assembly of States Parties, No Peace Without Justice, Human Rights Watch and the Euro-Syrian Democratic Forum convened a Side Event on “Accountability Options for Syria”, which was held on 19 November 2016 (from 13:00 to 15:00, Europe 1&2, World Forum, The Hague). The meeting was co-hosted by the Governments of Liechtenstein, Canada and the Netherlands.
The meeting was opened by Sabine Nölke, Ambassador of Canada to The Netherlands and Permanent Representative to the OPCW, and moderated by Christian Wenaweser, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein to the United Nations in New York. Speakers included Paul Wilke, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the ICC, Rami Nakhla, NPWJ Syria Project Coordinator, Ayman Ghojal, Syrian Human Rights Defender, Richard Dicker, Human Rights Watch.

Despite various initiatives, the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, with few prospects of an end in sight. According to UN sources, up to 470,000 people have been killed since 2011; over half the population forced from their homes; some 4.6m people eke out a minimal existence in places that few can leave and aid cannot reach; and a further 4.8m people, including an estimated 2m children, have left. The conflict has fractured Syria and threatens the peace and stability of the entire region.
Against this backdrop, the side event looked how justice might be served in an environment where an ICC referral continue to be highly unlikely given the position of some Members of the United Nations Security Council. To what degree can universal jurisdiction provide at least some justice to Syrian victims? How could the General Assembly answer the increased calls for action – could  it create a mechanism for crimes committed in Syria to collect, preserve and prepare evidence to facilitate and expedite criminal proceedings nationally, regionally or internationally and to have the evidence ready for any future trials? At the same time, could States engage the International Court of Justice, for example through the mechanism provided in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment?.

For further information, please contact Gianluca Eramo (MENA Democracy program Coordinator) on or Nicola Giovannini (Press & Public Affairs Coordinator) on or +32-2-548-3915.