ICC urged to investigate Syria for war crimes | News | DW | 15.01.2013
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ICC urged to investigate Syria for war crimes

More than 50 governments have called on the UN Security Council to refer the conflict in Syria to the International Criminal Court for investigation of war crimes. But the Council is unlikely to support the move.

Switzerland sent a petition requesting the push for a war crimes investigation to the UN Security Council, which is the only body that can refer the case to the ICC in The Hague for investigation.

The signatories included many European governments as well as Libya and Tunisia.

The Swiss letter said the council should announce "that it intends to refer the situation to the ICC unless a credible, fair and independent accountability process is being established in a timely manner."

The Council has previously referred the conflicts in Libya and Darfur, Sudan, to the court for investigation into war crimes and genocide.

The push on Syria comes amid warnings of an escalation of the conflict, which has now been going on for almost 22 months.

"Syria is now resorting to a notoriously indiscriminate type of cluster munition that gravely threatens civilian populations," warned Steve Goose, director of the arms division of the New York based NGO Human Rights Watch, urging more governments to sign up to the Swiss-led initiative.

Both sides in Syria have been accused of committing atrocities in a conflict that has already killed more than 60,000 peoople according to the United Nations.

The Security Council is deeply divided over Syria, however. The International Criminal Court is not an official UN body. Permanent security council members China, Russia and the United States are also not ICC members and have already indicated they would not sign the petition.

Russia's deputy foreign affairs minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, said on Monday in New York that the five permanent members of the Security Council would meet to discuss the Syrian crisis toward the end of January.

rg/sej (Reuters, AFP)