International Criminal Court: Possible U.N. Security Council Referral of Syrian Human Rights Abuses to ICC

As previously mentioned, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has jurisdiction over the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and one of the ways in which it can obtain jurisdiction over a specific situation is by referral from the U.N. Security Council. [1] The Council already has done so with respect to Sudan (Darfur) and Libya.[2]

Now the U.S. is considering asking the U.N. Security Council to refer possible Syrian human rights abuses to the ICC for investigation and possible prosecution. On June 17th U.S. officials said the possible referral was in reaction to the regime’s killing 1,100 civilians since March and another 20 on Friday.[3]

Russia and China, two other permanent Security Council members with veto power, have expressed opposition to pressuring Syria through the Council. But the U.S. now is pressing Russia to support a Council resolution on Syria.[4]

Earlier in June Syrian opposition and human-rights groups presented the ICC’s Prosecutor with information about alleged crimes against humanity by the Syrian regime. This information had details about attacks on civilians: over 1,100 killings, 3,000 injured and 900 forced disappearances. The report also alleged the regime’s use of torture, snipers, attack helicopters and tanks against civilians. [5]

In May U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes, Stephen Rapp, reiterated U.S. support for the ICC. He  mentioned how the U.S. as a non-member was cooperating with the ICC: participating as an observer at meetings of the Court’s Assembly of States Parties, assisting the Court with information-sharing, witness relocation and protection and the arrest and transfer of ICC fugitives. The U.S. also supported the Security Council’s referral of the Libyan situation to the ICC.[6]


[1] See Post: The International Criminal Court: Introduction (April 28, 2011).

[2] See Post: The International Criminal Court: Investigations and Prosecutions (April 28, 2011); Post: The International Criminal Court: Libya Investigation Status (May 8, 2011); Post: The International Criminal Court: Three Libyan Arrest Warrants Sought (May 16, 2011).

[3]  Solomon, U.S. Pushes to Try Syria Regime, Wall S. J. (June 18, 2011); Shanker, War Crimes Charges Weighed as Crisis Continues in Syria, N.Y. Times (June 19, 2011); Reuters, Russia’s Medvedev Opposed to U.N. Vote on Syria: Report, N.Y. Times (June 19, 2011).

[4]  Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Rapp, Where Can the Victims of Atrocities Find Justice? (May 10, 2011), http://www.state.gov/s/wci/us_releases/remarks/165257.htm.

Published by

dwkcommentaries

As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

2 thoughts on “International Criminal Court: Possible U.N. Security Council Referral of Syrian Human Rights Abuses to ICC”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s