Statement by Germany in the UN General Assembly concerning the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria (IIIM), delivered by Ambassador Zahneisen on April 1st, 2022

24.02.2022 - Speech

Mr. President, Distinguished delegates,

Germany aligns with the Statement of the EU. In our national capacity we would like to add:

Germany would like to sincerely thank the Head of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria (IIIM) Catherine Marchi-Uhel for her work and her dedication to contribute to justice for the most serious crimes committed in Syria. We are most grateful to Ms. Marchi-Uhel and her team for their continued engagement and for presenting their latest report today.

Accountability and redress is the least that can be done for victims and survivors in Syria. The basis for this is investigation and documentation of the crimes committed as well as the creation of legal avenues to prosecute such crimes. Applying universal jurisdiction is one such avenue.

Why does Germany attach such great importance to accountability? In September 2021, High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet stated that between March 2011 and March 2021 at least 350,000 individuals were killed in the conflict in Syria. Additionally, far more than 100.000 people have been forcibly disappeared and remain missing in Syria.

Peace in Syria is not possible without justice.

Germany – like many other states – has found universal jurisdiction to be an effective tool to pursue accountability for the worst international crimes. The vast datasets and the professionalism of the IIIM are of great help in this regard.

On 13 January 2022, a verdict of the Koblenz Higher Regional Court in Germany found a former Syrian Intelligence officer guilty of crimes against humanity and stated, that the Syrian regime had been launching a widespread and systematic attack against its own civilian population. The Mechanism provided effective support German Federal Prosecutor’s Office in this case.

German court proceedings on the grounds of universal jurisdiction will continue and we encourage others to apply universal jurisdiction or create the necessary legal foundations. We stand ready to share our experiences and we will continue to support the Mechanism in its important work.

The Mechanism’s datasets are the very foundation for any form of judicial proceedings for Syrians and together with Syrians – after already more than a decade of crimes committed. Germany will therefore continue to support the IIIM Syria in its important work.

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