HE the Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said that any transition or solution in Syria, without punishing those involved in war crimes, will not lead to an effective and sustainable outcome.
Addressing the high-level meeting on accountability in Syria held on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the Foreign Minister said that some six years since the beginning of the crisis left no doubt that the national judicial system in Syria is unable, or has no desire to prosecute any party involved in brutal war crimes in Syria.
He pointed out to the failure of the international community to refer the Syrian file on these crimes, namely war crimes and crimes against humanity, to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
From this perspective, the efforts of the State of Qatar, in partnership with the group of friends, calls for the UN General Assembly for the establishment of a neutral and independent international mechanism to assist the investigation and the prosecution of those responsible for the most serious crimes.
The State of Qatar called for a comprehensive political solution to the Syrian crisis, supported initiatives to stop violence, supported international efforts to prevent terrorism and extremism, and expressed concern and condemnation of the use of chemical weapons, he added, pointing out that the Syrian crisis has many aspects that have received the attention of the international community.
The Foreign Minister said that Qatar has made every effort to provide assistance to address the enormous humanitarian needs of the Syrian people. He pointed out that the adoption of General Assembly resolution 71/248 was an important step, the first of its kind by the General Assembly, to ensure justice for the victims and the survivors of the serious crimes, as well as to address the grievances of the Syrian people and to put an end to the spiral of revenge and violence.
“We must recognise that the establishment of the mechanism is not the end of our efforts, but on the contrary is the beginning of a new phase in which the mechanism is activated to achieve the desired result. In this context, we have continued meetings and endeavours to ensure that the mechanism is operationalised. During the first year of operation, the State of Qatar provided a $1mn financial contribution to the mechanism,” he added.
The FM thanked all states that had provided financial support to the international mechanism, and urged all states and stakeholders to provide all necessary support to enable this important body to carry out its mandate in the best possible manner. “We are pleased to see the progress made in the terms of reference and operation of the mechanism, including the assumption of its presidency by Marchi-Uhel, and we commend the efforts of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres,” he said.
HE the Foreign Minister expressed Qatar’s aspiration to work seriously to ensure the proper and effective operation of the new mechanism, as well as to activate co-ordination and co-operation between the UN’s independent international mechanism and the International Commission of Inquiry. “We are certain that the day, when the civilised world will be held accountable for its silence since the beginning of this crisis, is not far away,” he said.
Sheikh Mohammed said that the report of the International Independent Investigation Commission issued this month has confirmed the responsibility of the Syrian regime forces for the use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikun, in April this year. He pointed out that the use of weapons of mass destruction against civilians in that town was an example of the crimes that motivated the establishment of a neutral and independent international mechanism. “This crime is added to the Syrian regime’s series of crimes of using chemical weapons in Khan Sheikun and other areas in Syria,” he said.
He explained that the crimes of mass atrocities, war crimes, crimes against humanity and other crimes considered as ‘serious’ under the classification of international law, does not fall statute of limitations, therefore, the punishment of the perpetrators of these crimes is urgent being a humanitarian necessity before being a legal one. “This calls for doubling efforts to activate the international neutral and independent mechanism to be a deterrent to the recurrence of such crimes,” he added.
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