Syria: War is Looming, but is Justice Possible?

(Photo: Khalil Ashawi/Reuters)

(Photo: Khalil Ashawi/Reuters)

Dear readers,

I wanted to share an op-ed I penned for the Globe and Mail on Syria and international criminal justice. It’s no secret that, over the past few days, the UK, France and the US have begun beating the drums of war. But they have also been precariously silent on the question of justice.  Here’s a snippet of the article:

Despite two years of an incessant civil war that has claimed at least 80,000 people, the United Nations Security Council has been mired in deadlock on how to respond to the violence in Syria. Yet the images and videos of civilians attacked with chemical weapons in the outskirts of Damascus has rocked the Syrian status quo. As Jon Western suggests, the chemical weapons attack may constitute “Syria’s Srebrenica,” galvanizing the international community into taking action in a war they can no longer afford to ignore.

The massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995 became a crucial moment not only in the Bosnian war but for international justice. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia declared that the massacre at Srebrenica constituted genocide; generals and political officials have been tried and convicted for their role in the carnage.

In the case of Syria, however, there have been no calls from the Security Council for chemical weapons attacks to be investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Even as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared that the use of chemical weapons in Syria constituted an “outrageous crime” that could not be met with impunity, there were no calls for the Council to refer Syria to the ICC. This begs the question: if the use of chemical weapons against thousands of civilians is a crime, why the silence on Syria and the ICC?

You can read the whole post here.

Thanks for reading!

About Mark Kersten

Mark Kersten is a consultant at the Wayamo Foundation, a Senior Researcher at the Munk School of Global Affairs, and a law student at McGill University Law School. He is also author of the book, 'Justice in Conflict - The Effects of the International Criminal Court's Interventions on Ending Wars and Building Peace' (Oxford University Press, 2016).
This entry was posted in International Criminal Court (ICC), Justice, Syria and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Syria: War is Looming, but is Justice Possible?

  1. Pingback: Tiwesdæg: the Left-hand of Linkage » Duck of Minerva

  2. Riley Frost says:

    Interesting post. I posted something on this topic a while ago; baring in mind what you’ve written you may be interested.

  3. Pingback: Nob’s Syria Reading List for 8/28 | Ordinary Times

  4. Maybe because nobody would arrest Mr Assad? Have you seen him travelling to other countries in the past 2 years? If at all, then only to Russia and Iran, two countries which would most likely not execute an arrest warrant.

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