What began as a multifaceted assault on warfare in Syria ended last night with a U.N. Security Council resolution sapped of accountability strength. (credit for UN photo)
The draft resolution France had circulated in mid-September condemned the August 21 chemical attack that killed more than a thousand persons outside Damascus, restricted chemical weapons and components, and set up a travel ban and asset freeze against violators. What is more, it called for the Council
to refer the situation in Syria since March 2011 to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court ….
That referral clause was significant because it would have engaged the world’s only permanent international criminal forum in Syria – not just the August 21 attack but the entire situation in Syria, since the violence began. (Prior posts.) The need for a large frame is evident in the 1st sentences of the August 2013 Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic:
The Syrian Arab Republic is a battlefield. Its cities and towns suffer relentless shelling and sieges. Massacres are perpetrated with impunity. An untold number of Syrians have disappeared.
Notwithstanding, the ICC referral effort appears soon to have fallen by the diplomatic wayside. Thus Security Council Resolution 2118, adopted unanimously last night, said nothing of asset freezes or travel bans. It said nothing about the ICC. What little it did say was limited to chemical weapons and said with rather soft verb forms:
The Security Council,
15. Expresses its strong conviction that those individuals responsible for the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic should be held accountable; ….