No Peace Without Justice: Syrian Civil Society on World Day for International Justice

[17 July 2017] On World Day for International Justice, Syrian activists are calling on the international community to deliver accountability for crimes committed against the Syrian people. With the Geneva peace talks failing to give accountability the required primacy, this day serves as a timely reminder that justice is paramount to peace.

“Today, we commemorate those we have lost by amplifying our calls for justice,” said Fadel Abdul Ghany of the Syrian Network for Human Rights. “The regime has indiscriminately used chemical and banned weaponry on us, systematically executed tens of thousands and built a crematorium to dispose of the bodies, bombed our hospitals and destroyed our schools. And yet, not one person has been held accountable. As long as justice remains elusive, so does an end to the violence—with no consequences for continued violence, it is no surprise that ceasefires continue to fail.”

“Many have lost confidence in international institutions—but we have not lost hope for justice. We know that with sufficient political will, those responsible for crimes against the Syrian people can and will be held to account,” said Husam Alkatlaby from the Violations Documentation Center. “The international community already has everything it needs to hold perpetrators of crimes against the Syrian people to account—bodies of evidence, witnesses, and investigative bodies. At this point, there is only one thing keeping the Syrian people from seeing justice—political will, including the will to establish an international venue for prosecutions. We urge the international community to act, not only to help the Syrian people achieve justice but to ensure that the credibility of international law as a whole isn’t destroyed.”

On World Day for International Justice, Syrian activists are calling upon the international community to:

  • Ensure that justice and accountability are an integral part of the Geneva peace process.
  • Pursue all accountability options, including through prosecutions under domestic and universal jurisdictions.
  • Provide political and financial support to fully operationalize the UN-mandated Independent, International and Impartial Mechanism (IIIM) to investigate war crimes in Syria.
  • Create an ad-hoc tribunal through the UN General Assembly to prosecute war crimes in the immediate future.
  • Support Syrian expertise for a future Syrian-led transitional justice mechanism.