For the first time in several years, the UN Security Council (UNSC) convened a special session to discuss war crimes in Syria. Syrian activists participated in the UNSC session, demanding that the Assad regime be held accountable and that Syrians be protected from the regime’s crimes.
The meeting took place under a special formula called Arria, which is usually convened to hear the views of individuals and organizations on matters covered by the mandate of the UNSC.
The meeting was held on Tuesday, with direct sponsorship from Estonia, France, Britain, and the United States. Other participating countries were Canada, Germany, Georgia, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Qatar, Sweden, and Turkey.
Representatives from these countries made similar statements at the first meeting, which were followed by representatives from the non-permanent UNSC members: Ireland, Mexico, Norway, and India at the second meeting, as well as those of Albania, Switzerland, Australia, Malta, Italy, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Ukraine, Denmark, and the European Union.
At the opening session, the Chair of the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism, Catherine Marchi-Uhel, and Claus Kress, a professor of criminal and international law, spoke. They were followed by Omar al-Shughari, a Syrian refugee, former detainee, and human rights activist, and Waad al-Khatib, a Syrian journalist and film director, and the Syrian lawyer and activist Ibrahim al-Olabi.
“If you think I’m angry, you’re definitely right. You’ve let us down, and now some of you are discussing restoring relations with the Assad regime and normalizing relations with it,” said journalist and director Waad al-Khatib.
The Syrian journalist stressed that Russia must be held accountable for targeting hospitals and civilian facilities. He called on the international community to intensify its efforts to hold the perpetrators of the war crimes that Syrians have been suffering for more than a decade.
“One day the Syrians will return to the street, and it is our responsibility to make sure that they will never again face war crimes,” Khatib said, sending messages to the UNSC. “What messages are you sending us if Assad’s impunity continues? Is it okay to kill people? And kill children? And the destruction of hospitals? What legacy will you leave behind if you do not hold the perpetrators accountable?”
Omar al-Shughari: Evidence Against Assad Amounts to more than those Against the Nazis
“While I was being held in Branch 215, I was assigned the task of numbering bodies. And during my stay there, one month was different: less torture, fewer corpses, and more food. I later realized that this happened because Caesar’s photographs were released and published, and the guards were afraid,” activist Omar al-Shughari said.
“Today we have more evidence against Assad than against the Nazis,” Shughari said. He added that “the people that Caesar depicted are all gone, it is too late to save them, but there are many millions who can still be protected.” Shughari added: “This is what I ask you to do.”
Ibrahim Olabi: Syria is not a battlefield, but Assad’s crime scene
Syrian lawyer Ibrahim Olabi said that Assad, by committing these crimes, “is sending the message that he can do so with impunity making Syria’s demise inevitable..”
“Syria is not a war zone; it is a crime scene. And while wars may end, crimes continue into the future. Knowing that the crime scene existed, having evidence, and knowing the perpetrators, why didn’t this council intervene?”
Security Council: Response is inadequate compared to atrocities committed
“The UN Security Council hopes to deal with the responsible institutions and fill the accountability vacuum, doing its part to promote justice for the serious crimes that have taken place in Syria,” said the president member of the UN Security Council meeting, He added: “Despite intensive efforts from the United Nations, some countries, and other actors to scrutinize what is happening in Syria, the response has been inadequate compared to the atrocities committed.”
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.