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Ireland supports Accountability Mechanism for Syria

International Law, Funding, Minister Charles Flanagan, Press Releases, Ireland, Middle East and North Africa, 2017

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan T.D. has today (Tuesday) announced a contribution of €100,000 to support the establishment of an International Impartial and Independent Mechanism to assist in the investigation and prosecution of the most serious crimes under international law committed in Syria. Ireland was one of a number of countries which successfully pressed for a UN General Assembly resolution to establish the Mechanism in December 2016.

Commenting on Ireland’s pledge of financial support, Minister Flanagan said:

“The recent attacks on civilians in Syria have underlined the need for full accountability for violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in Syria, some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Those responsible for crimes on all sides must be held accountable. As the Security Council has to date been unable to act in this regard, this mechanism offers an opportunity to begin this essential work.

“Ireland was proud to co-sponsor the establishment of this accountability mechanism, and I am pleased to announce this contribution to support its operations.

“The search for a peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict is a top foreign policy priority for Ireland. I urge all sides to work for a political transition, an end to violence, the lifting of all sieges and barriers to humanitarian relief and for accountability for the atrocities and crimes committed against the Syrian people. Ireland fully supports the UN-led Geneva peace process and the work of UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, and remains committed to supporting efforts towards a peaceful resolution to the conflict.”

Press Office
09 May 2017


Notes to editor:
On 21 December 2016 the General Assembly adopted resolution 71/248 which included a decision to establish an “International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of those Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011” (“the Mechanism”). Ireland co-sponsored this resolution.

The Mechanism has two main tasks: (1) to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse evidence of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations and abuses; and (2) to prepare files in order to facilitate and expedite fair and independent criminal proceedings, in accordance with international law standards, in national, regional or international courts or tribunals that have or may in the future have jurisdiction over these crimes, in accordance with international law.

The work of the Mechanism will assist in the investigation and future prosecution of those responsible for the most serious crimes under international law, which include genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Ireland currently supports a broad range of efforts to ensure full legal accountability for all war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria as part of a sustainable peaceful resolution to the conflict, including the Independent International Commission of Inquiry established in August 2011 by the Human Rights Council to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law since March 2011 in Syria. Ireland has also consistently called for accountability and the referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.

Ireland is also a strong and consistent supporter of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) whose Fact Finding Mission (FFM) was set up in 2014 to “establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic”. We support their work financially with annual contributions amounting to nearly €1million since 2014. In addition, Ireland has contributed €200,000 specifically to the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mission, an independent mechanism established to determine the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Ireland reiterated its strong support for the FFM and the OPCW-UN JIM at a recent meeting of the Executive Council of the OPCW, convened to discuss the alleged chemical weapons attack in the Syrian province of Idlib on 4 April 2017.

Ireland has also made a significant contribution to humanitarian efforts in Syria and the surrounding refugee-hosting countries. At the Brussels conference for Syria in April, Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Joe McHugh T.D., pledged at least €25 million in humanitarian assistance to those affected by the conflict in Syria in 2017, €9 million of this pledge has been fulfilled so far. To date since 2012, Ireland has provided €76.5 million in humanitarian assistance in response to the Syria crisis. Through our annual contributions to EU Institutions, Ireland also supports the EU’s humanitarian response in Syria, from which €445 million was contributed in 2016.

In addition, Ireland continues to deploy members of its Rapid Response Corps to the Balkans and Middle East to provide critical surge capacity to UN agencies responding to migration challenges resulting from the Syrian conflict. Since 2012, a total of 45 Rapid Response Corps members have been deployed to support the Syria crisis response.