Accountability in Syria under the Convention against Torture: The Joint Canada/Netherlands’ Initiative - December 2021 [EN/AR]


Over the decade of conflict and violence in Syria, scores of international humanitarian law (IHL) violations and international human rights law (IHRL) violations and abuses have been committed by all parties. Efforts to ensure accountability have to date taken various forms, from the creation of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) to submission of cases to the UN human rights mechanisms. With limited avenues, the focus has remained on holding individuals criminally responsible, and with the failed attempt to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, proceedings to investigate and prosecute alleged perpetrators for crimes under international law occurred on the basis of the principle of universal jurisdiction before third States’ courts, such as in Germany.

In that respect the recent joint initiative by Canada and the Netherlands, based on the Convention against Torture (CAT), could potentially result in proceedings against Syria for violations of this treaty at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and would offer a potential new avenue for accountability.