Strengthening UN action towards ensuring accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria

Strengthening UN action towards ensuring accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria

We, the undersigned non-governmental organisations, address collectively our calls to the international community to adhere to protect civilians across Syria and take concrete action to hold all perpetrators of blatant human rights violations accountable. On the margin of the presentation of the 14th Report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (CoI) during the 36th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, we jointly ask for the immediate referral of the information gathered by the CoI to the JIM, the UN Security Council (UNSC), the UN General Assembly, with a view to ensuring accountability for these crimes.
 
The CoI’s findings on the systematic use of chemical weapons perpetrated by governmental forces primarily targeting civilians should not be taken lightly, and should be considered a red line by all. The report states that “Between March 2013 and March 2017, the Commission documented 25 incidents of chemical weapons use in the Syrian Arab Republic, of which 20 were perpetrated by government forces and used primarily against civilians. During the reporting period, government forces further used chemical weapons against civilians in the town of Khan Shaykhun, in Al-Latamneh, located approximately 11 kilometres south of Khan Shaykhun, and in eastern Ghouta”
 
These attacks constitute clear violations of international humanitarian law and the Convention on Chemical Weapons, the report notes, which the Syrian Arab Republic ratified in 2013 following a previous Sarin gas attack. The report acknowledges a clear and significant breach of UN Security Council Resolution 2118 on the transfer, use and manufacture of chemical weapons in Syria, whereas Article 21 of the Security Council resolution stipulates that the council would impose measures under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations in the event of non-compliance by Syria with this resolution. We remind of the importance of extending the mandate of the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) United Nations (UN) Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) towards supporting further the conclusions of the specific incident of Khan Sheikhoun to identify the perpetrators responsible for the attack
 

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