From Human Rights Watch:
Ensure those Committing War Crimes are Brought to JusticeIn the face of the grave violations of the laws of war documented in Syria, including abuses by opposition forces, Human Rights Watch has called for the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Because Syria is not a member of the ICC treaty, the Security Council would have to give the court jurisdiction.
A total of 64 countries have called on the UN Security Council to refer the Syria case to the ICC, including 6 Security Council members: France, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Argentina, Australia, and South Korea.
Eleven G20 members have not publicly supported ICC referral, including China, Russia, and the United States, all permanent Security Council members. The others are: South Africa, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, India, Indonesia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. Russia has described the effort to seek an ICC referral as “ill-timed and counterproductive.”
G20 countries that have not yet supported ICC referral should publicly do so, and should take all available steps to encourage Russia to drop its opposition, Human Rights Watch said.
The record from past conflicts such as in the Balkans in the 1990s confirms that criminal indictments of senior political, military and rebel leaders can actually strengthen peace efforts by delegitimizing and marginalizing those who stand in the way of the conflict’s resolution. At the same time, the failure to hold perpetrators of the most serious international crimes to account can fuel future abuses.
An ICC referral would send a clear message to all parties to the conflict in Syria that grave crimes will not be tolerated and that the commission of such abuses could carry serious consequences, Human Rights Watch said. The threat of ICC referral would put on notice those in senior positions in both the government and opposition that they could be held responsible for crimes they order or commit, or for crimes they fail to prevent or punish – whatever the outcome of the Syria conflict.