The Syrian revolution started with peaceful calls for democracy, that were soon met with indiscriminate violence by the Syrian regime. Over the past six years, such violence escalated dramatically, causing an estimated 470,000 deaths and forcing more than 11 million Syrians from their homes. In 2016, more than 6,000 people were newly displaced each day. War crimes and crimes against humanity have been rampant yet they have been met with total impunity - even though 105 UN Member States decided that accountability must be integral to Syria's transition.
It's time for the international community to say: Never again.
1. Full accountability for all parties responsible for war crimes
Syrian civil society groups, including human rights monitors and transitional justice advocates, have pushed for accountability by all parties -- including foreign parties like Russia and Iran, which have indiscriminately killed Syrian civilians in violations of international humanitarian law.
2. Special tribunal
With an ICC referral blocked by Russia, the UN General Assembly has the capacity to establish an ad hoc international tribunal to investigate violations of international humanitarian law in Syria. Doing so would help shed light on human rights abuses committed during the Syrian war, and be an important first step in holding the perpetrators to account.
3. Domestic jurisdiction
Under domestic jurisdiction, a case can be brought against parties responsible for war crimes by victims and/or their relatives if they are of dual nationality. This means, for example, that victims of violence in Syrian regime detention facilities can seek compensation from the regime in a national court.
4. Universal jurisdiction
Universal jurisdiction allows nations to try those suspected of committing serious war crimes in their national courts. It can and should be used to try war criminals - including current and former regime officials - traveling to or residing in Europe.
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