Wien, 11. January 2013 Press release

Spindelegger: "Crime committed in Syria must be brought before the International Criminal Court"

Joint appeal of the Foreign Ministers of Austria, Denmark, Ireland and Slovenia shown on CNN

Vienna, 11 January 2013 – “We call upon the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court as soon as possible”, Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger and his colleagues from Denmark, Ireland and Slovenia, Villy Søvndal, Eamon Gilmore and Karl Erjavec said in a joint declaration broadcast on CNN on 10 January 2013 and distributed to all UN member states in New York and Geneva (see also http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/10/time-to-refer-syria-crisis-to-icc/)

In view of the imminent escalation of violence in Syria, the four foreign ministers declare: “We appeal to all parties to the conflict to abide by international law, in particular the international humanitarian law and the human rights and point out that all those who commit or command crimes of war or crimes against humanity will be held responsible. There cannot and will not be a negotiation about this principle.”

By referring the International Criminal Court to the matter, it is made clear to the combatants on all sides that the serious crimes will not go unpunished, the ministers said. “We owe this not only to the victims and their families but also to future generations of Syrians who want to live in a free country based on the principles of peace and justice.”

A resolution of the UN Security Council is required for the crimes committed in Syria to be prosecuted by the ICC as Syria is not party to the Statue of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The Criminal Court's mandate includes genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, such as the most recent attacks on Austrian members of the UN peacekeepers in Syria.

Austria was one of the first countries to demand that the situation in Syria be referred to the International Criminal Court early in 2012. On 10 December 2012, upon the proposal of Austria, a relevant passage on Syria was taken up in the Conclusions of the European Council on Syria. On 14 January 2013, a letter coordinated by Switzerland and supported by more than 50 states (Austria among them) and re-iterating the same demand will be submitted to the UN Security Council.

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