Switzerland thanks the organizers for this meeting and the briefers, particularly the Syrian civil society representatives, for their interventions.
Almost a decade ago, Switzerland, together with close to 60 States, spearheaded the calls to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. The message remains relevant: there shall be no impunity for international crimes committed in Syria.
Ensuring compliance with international law and accountability by all parties to the conflict remain priorities for Switzerland. Accountability should serve first and foremost victims, survivors and their families. In this regard, I would like to highlight three points:
First, Syrian civil society is a key actor in the path towards justice and accountability. Many risk their lives documenting violations and helping victims. The voices of civil society must be heard, including in formats like today’s meeting. A group of Syrian victims and survivors has recently expressed their vision of justice. It states: “Criminal accountability is a crucial part of our vision of long-term justice. To ensure accountability, action is needed both immediately and in the future.” Indeed, while comprehensive justice is still far, the groundwork has to be laid today.
This brings me to my second point: the cooperation between the International Mechanism for Syria (IIIM), Syrian NGOs and national prosecutors starts to yield results. Several criminal trials for serious violations of international law have been launched and some of them have concluded. With the Netherlands, Switzerland has contributed to these important steps with the “Lausanne Process”, which promotes cooperation between the IIIM and Syrian NGOs. The results are a hopeful beginning. Much more is needed.
Therefore, and this is my third point, those who strive for justice and accountability need the international community’s sustained support. The Security Council has a key role to play. This holds true for the efforts for accountability, but also for other important justice and humanitarian issues. More should be done to fulfill the right of Syrians to know what happened to their loved ones who are missing and detained.
Peace and justice being interdependent, we must also ensure a peaceful future for Syria. Switzerland continues to support the UN Peace Process, including by hosting peace talks in Geneva and enhancing civil society participation. Only a negotiated solution can end the conflict in Syria and guarantee the rights of all Syrians.