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Statement by the Permanent Representative of Estonia H.E. Mr. Sven Jürgenson at an informal meeting on IIIM, 18 April 2018


Statement by the Permanent Representative of Estonia H.E. Mr. Sven Jürgenson

72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly

18 April 2018

Informal meeting of the plenary

A briefing by the Head of the International with the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011 (IIIM) on the report 1 of the IIIM

Mr. President,

Estonia aligns itself fully with the statement made by the EU.

We thank Mrs Catherine Marchi-Uhel for introducing the first report of the International, Impartial and Independent mechanism for Syria (IIIM) and we welcome the opportunity for the debate to discuss the key challenges we face today and the international community´s contribution to the international criminal justice.

Estonia is deeply concerned about the catastrophic situation in Syria. The conflict has lasted over the 7 years and have caused tremendous human suffering and loss of the civilian lives. We have witnessed the systematic and brutal violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Continuing use of chemical weapons against civilians, attacks to the schools, hospitals and other protected civilian objects, the use of starvation, forced displacement, may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

It is regrettable that the political standoff in the UN Security Council has led to a culture of impunity. Permanent members of the Council should voluntarily and collectively commit themselves to not using their veto to block Council action aimed at preventing or ending situations involving mass atrocity crimes. To ensure accountability for international crimes committed in Syria, we reiterate our support for referral by the UN Security Council of the situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC), in order to guarantee that all victims would receive justice.

Estonia condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons by anyone, and under any circumstance.  The reckless acts of chemical attacks in Syria and what happened one month ago in Salisbury are unacceptable and the perpetrators must be held accountable. The use of chemical weapons constitutes a breach of international law and is a war crime and a crime against humanity. There can be no impunity and we urge the UN Security Council to rapidly re-establish an independent attribution mechanism to insure accountability. Moreover, my country strongly supports the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons.

Mr President,

The world has lost half a million people in Syria, there is no more time to waste in order to save further sufferings and loss of innocent lives. We need to strengthen our efforts to bring an end the conflict and make perpetrators accountable. Estonia will support any initiatives that will bring peace and stability to this country which is torn by war and violence. We also help Syrian war refugees by participating in their relocation and contributing financially to humanitarian aid funds and projects. A sustainable solution for the Syria crisis requires a political process and an agreement based on a broad international consensus. However, a political solution cannot mean that those who have perpetrated monstrous atrocities against the Syrian people must not be left unpunished. Therefore, we stress the important role of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, established in December 2016. Estonia strongly supports IIIM and we have  also made a financial contribution to the Mechanism.

We consider that the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes is critical to ensure fair and just society, by holding perpetrators accountable and to ensure justice for victims. Estonia is willing to cooperate with the IIIM, inter alia, to share relevant evidentiary and other material in accordance with international law and our national legislation. It is crucial that the Mechanism will share its information only with those jurisdictions that respect humanitarian law, international human rights law and standards, including the right to fair trial.

In prospects of justice for Syria, and to ensure respect for international criminal law, we call on all parties involved in the conflict to demonstrate a sense of responsibility and fully cooperate with the IIIM to assist the investigation and prosecution of persons responsible for committed war crimes in the Syrian Arab Republic. In order for the IIIM to be able to perform its mandate efficiently and make the prospect of justice for victims a reality, is needed to ensure the funding from the regular UN budget. The existence and well operating IIIM is a clear message of the accountability efforts. 

We like to wish success to Mrs Catherine Marchi-Uhel on her efforts to investigate the most serious crimes committed in the Syrian Arab Republic.

Thank you, Mr President!


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