General Assembly Debate : “Agenda Item 34 – Prevention of Armed Conflict - Report of the International, impartial and independent mechanism to assist in the investigation and prosecution of persons responsible for the most serious crimes under international law committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011”

Statement by H.E. Lise Gregoire-van Haaren

Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations

NEW YORK, 23 April 2019

Mr. President,

The Kingdom of the Netherlands welcomes today’s debate on the third report of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanismn for Syria (IIIM).
I thank Ms. Catherine Marchi–Uhel, Head of the Mechanism, for her insightful briefing, as well as for the quality and comprehensiveness of the report.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands aligns itself fully with the statements made by Liechtenstein and by Croatia on behalf of 27 EU Member States.

Mr. President,

Listening to the statements today, the message from this Assembly remains loud and clear: there needs to be justice for the serious crimes committed in Syria.

Syria is the most poignant modern example of the effects of impunity.
A regime that cannot be held to account, will continue with degrading behavior.

In addition to the continuation of suffering on the ground, this deadlock runs the risk of severely undermining international law and order.

Today we once more underline that this Assembly will not resign to this fate.

Mr. president,

Please allow me to focus on three aspects:

  1. Ensuring accountability
  2. Sustainable funding and
  3. Strengthened cooperation

Mr. President, let me begin with the first point:

  1. Ensuring accountability

It is the primary responsibility of states to respect and ensure the human rights of all individuals within their territory.
To end impunity, states have an obligation to thoroughly investigate and prosecute all persons responsible for international crimes.

Failing to do so will make it an obligation of the international community.
The Mechanism is a unique international criminal justice entity, supporting accountability at the national, regional and international level.

At the same time member states need to ensure that with this support prosecution can take place.
We should not create safe havens for people suspected of these horrific crimes.
We therefore call on all states to examine their national legislation, and if necessary, strengthen their national ability to prosecute international crimes committed in Syria.

Mr. President,

The Mechanism’s strong focus on its independence and impartiality is key to maintain the trust and confidence of the International community. It is important for the victims that crimes committed by all parties are addressed, regardless of any affiliation of the alleged perpetrator.

Mr. President, that brings me to my second point:

2. The importance of sustainable funding

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a strong supporter of the Mechanism and has contributed a total of 5 million EURO to date.

Sustainable funding is essential for the multi-year planning and organization of the Mechanism’s work.

We therefore look forward to working with all States later this year to have the funding for the Mechanism provided from the regular budget, as is the case or the Myanmar mechanism.

3. Strengthened cooperation

Mr.  President,

Finally I would like to emphasize the need for strengthened cooperation with the Mechanism by all of us.

The Mechanism is a subsidiary body established by the General Assembly in accordance with article 22 of the UN Charter.

Therefore the whole UN System, including all subsidiary bodies and related organizations, should fully cooperate with the Mechanism.

This includes the sharing of all relevant information with the Mechanism.
We call upon all states and civil society to do the same.

To conclude, Mr. President,

Ensuring accountability for the most heinous crimes committed is a process that may take many many years.

Therefore the General Assembly collectively and each member state individually should stay strongly determined and patient in its pursuit.

Impunity will not prevail for there cannot be peace without justice.

With the help of the Mechanism we can let the voices of the victims be heard and ensure that justice (some day) will be done.

Thank you, Mr. President