Statement by Director General of the Political Department Mr Lembit Uibo at the UN General Assembly event on “Raising the Bar: Working towards Comprehensive Justice for Syria”

Estonia would like to thank Liechtenstein, Germany, the Netherlands, Qatar and the United States for organizing the Side Event and all the speakers for their statements. We welcome this opportunity to discuss how best to work towards Comprehensive Justice in Syria.

The conflict in Syria has raged now for more than ten years, and the only solution to the crises remains a political one, in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and the 2012 Geneva Communiqué. Accountability and justice for victims is essential for a stable and peaceful Syria. We must do everything that we can for accountability for the war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated in Syria.

In this sense, we regret that the Security Council continues to collectively fail to do anything impactful towards ending the conflict and establishing accountability. As a current member, we continue to support calls for the Council to refer the situation of Syria to the International Criminal Court.

Investigative mechanisms, such as the IIIM and the Commission of Inquiry play a central role in collecting evidence of the crimes committed. We would like to commend Catherine Marchi Uhel for her dedicated leadership since the creation of the Mechanism.

The growing number of requests made to the IIIM for assistance attest to its critical relevance to fight impunity also on a domestic level outside of Syria.

Estonia would specifically like to thank the Mechanism for making an effort to pay attention to sexual and gender-based crimes and crimes against children. We welcome the efforts by the IIIM to use technological solutions new to criminal investigation for both preservation and analysis of evidence. We also applaud the increased engagement by the Mechanism with the Syrian civil society actors to better understand the needs of the local communities.

In order to provide a stable base for its important work, Estonia highlights the need to continue the financing of the IIIM from the UN regular budget.

Ending impunity and delivering justice for the victims of the most serious crimes is the responsibility of the international community as a whole. We welcome steps taken to uphold accountability at a domestic level and initiatives to seek additional meaningful ways to ensure accountability for the serious crimes committed in Syria, as demonstrated by the speakers today.

We would once more like to thank the organisers and speakers for keeping the spotlight on the important issue of securing peace and delivering justice for the people in Syria.

Thank you!