Statement by Turkey on 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
Let me warmly welcome Madam Marchi-Uhel and thank you for convening the first formal debate of the report of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism.
Before talking about the Mechanism, I would like to reflect upon the background of today’s meeting. On March 15th, 2011, the Syrian people overcame their fear and stood up against dictatorship. They paid a heavy price in their quest for freedom and dignity, endured unthinkable agony.
The Syrian regime’s atrocities and crimes against its own people came in many different forms over the past 8 years, such as,
• Aerial bombings of all kinds, including prohibited cluster and incendiary bombs and chemical weapons;
• psychological and physical torture of the opponents and their family members including women and children,
• arbitrary detention and abductions,
• sexual abuse,
• long-term sieges without access to any humanitarian or medical assistance.
The chemical weapons attack, killing scores of innocent civilians in Douma last year, was another stark and arrogant reminder of the consequences of impunity. Today’s meeting is an important opportunity for us to tell Syrians that there will be accountability for the pain, loss and misery that they have suffered.
The creation of the IIIM demonstrated the membership’s strong commitment to ensure accountability for the crimes committed in Syria. Accountability is needed not only to administer justice but also to ensure reconciliation among Syrians. A genuine political transition and a new Syria can only be built on the sound basis of a closure and the feeling that justice will be served.
As one of the co-sponsors of the General Assembly Resolution creating the IIIM, we strongly support the Mechanism which remains the sole UN-mandated body to ensure criminal accountability. In this framework, we contributed a total of 300 thousand USD between 2017-2019 to the Mechanism. We commend Madam Marchi-Uhel for her leadership and the steps she and her team have taken to operationalize the Mechanism.
We welcome the impressive progress made and the acceleration of IIIM’s operations across all aspects of its mandate in the reporting period. We also applaud the strengthened cooperation between the IIIM and the OPCW, the Commission of Inquiry as well as the civil society.
Together with the Commission of Inquiry and the OPCW, the IIIM has a vital role in ensuring that impunity does not take root in the post-conflict Syria. In this respect, we welcome the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding between IIIM and the OPCW. It is crucial that IIIM also has access to the information gathered by the OPCW-UN Joint Inspection Mechanism, so that it can fully implement its mandate in accordance with the GA resolution 71/248.
Progress made on building central repository of information and evidence, and the fact that two case files have been opened since 2018 clearly demonstrate that the IIIM has come a long way since its creation. 14 requests for assistance that the Mechanism received from national war crimes units are further proof of that.
However, in the face of demanding work ahead, one of the key challenges identified in the Mechanism’s report, is the lack of regular and sustainable funding. Predictable funding for IIIM must be ensured for the years to come to enable the Mechanism to independently fulfill its mission. We strongly support the allocation of adequate resources from the UN’s regular budget as of 2020.
Turkey will continue its efforts to maintain the de-escalation on the ground, to address the plight of the Syrian people, to vigorously support initiatives for accountability in Syria, to revive the political process through the establishment of the Constitutional Committee and to achieve a political settlement in accordance with the Security Council Resolution 2254.