Statement on behalf of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania
by H.E. Mr Rein Tammsaar, Permanent Representative of Estonia
77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Agenda item 30(a) Prevention of Armed Conflict
25 April 2023
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the three Baltic States – Latvia, Lithuania and my own country Estonia. The Baltic States align with the statement made by the European Union and its Member States.
We would like to thank Ms Catherine Marchi-Uhel for presenting the IIIM’s ninth report and for her strong commitment and dedication to make the Mechanism achieve its goals year by year. The Baltic States remain active supporters of the Mechanism as we continue to be strongly convinced that it is necessary and highly impactful.
The brutal armed conflict in Syria has raged now for more than ten years. The only solution to this can be political, in line with Security Council Resolution 2254. We are alarmed by how impunity of the Syrian regime and its allies has led to abusing power and hindering justice for the victims. It is clear that there will be no peace in Syria until impunity prevails.
Establishing accountability for crimes committed on the Syrian soil remains of paramount importance. Mandate of the Mechanism to collect, consolidate, preserve, and scrutinise evidence of violations of international humanitarian law, as well as human rights violations and abuses, is a vital component of the road to justice for the Syrian people.
The Security Council has a special task to uphold and promote international law by responding decisively to grave violations of international law. Unfortunately, Russia has vetoed 17 Council resolutions on Syria since 2011. Nevertheless, we continue to call for the Security Council to step up its efforts to ensure accountability, including by referring the situation of Syria to the International Criminal Court.
During its six years of activities, the Mechanism has demonstrated its important role in justice efforts of the international community, trying to prevent impunity of the Syrian regime and its accomplices. Initiation of new activities, including the development of new digital analytical platforms and engagement with a broad range of providers during the reporting period is welcomed. Growing number of cooperation frameworks and number of assistance requests during the reporting period clearly shows its relevance. We regret that despite the efforts of the Mechanism, the authorities of the Syrian Arab Republic have failed to cooperate with the Mechanism.
We commend the Mechanism for the attentive and inclusive way in which it conducts its mission in facilitating justice. It continues to ensure the systematic integration of strategies on gender, children and youth, which is crucial due to the higher vulnerability of these groups during armed conflicts. The development of a methodological package to guide engagement with Syrian children and youth is a good example of this systematic integration.
We welcome the increased sharing of relevant information to help clarify the fate and whereabouts of persons missing in connection with the ongoing repressions in Syria. We also draw special attention to the expansion and intensification of cooperation between the Mechanism and civil society as they play a crucial role.
Let me conclude by emphasizing the importance of international co-operation, which is essential to achieve the aims as intended by the Mechanism. We would like to encourage sharing relevant information about crimes committed in Syria to ensure the facilitation of investigation and further accountability. Ending impunity and delivering justice for the victims of the most serious crimes is the responsibility of the international community as a whole.
Finally, the Baltic States continue to support the financing of the IIIM from the UN regular budget and call on all States to do so.