The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution [text, PDF] Wednesday to establish an independent panel to investigation possible war crimes in Syria. The resolution, approved by a vote of 105 to 15 against, with 52 abstentions, will establish the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Those Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in [Syria] since March 2011. The mechanism will work closesly with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, which was established by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011. The resolution:
Calls upon all States, all parties to the conflict as well as civil society to cooperate fully with the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism and the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic to effectively fulfil their respective mandates and, in particular, to provide them with any information and documentation they may possess, as well as any other forms of assistance pertaining to their respective mandates.
The Commission of Inquiry has repeatedly called for referral to the International Criminal Court, which has been blocked by Russia and China.
The war in Syria [JURIST backgrounder] continues to have a devastating impact, particularly for the war torn region of Aleppo. Last week UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein accused Syrian pro-government forces of going door to door and systematically killing civilians [JURIST report] in at least four Aleppo neighborhoods. The Russian/Syrian coalition committed war crimes in Aleppo during September and October, Human Rights Watch said [JURIST report] in early December. Earlier this month UN officials urged [JURIST report] the international community to unite with the UN Security Council to protect civilians in the war-torn eastern Aleppo region of Syria. US Central Command concluded [JURIST report] in November that airstrikes carried out by the US-led coalition near Dayr az Zawr, Syria, in September did not violate international law. Also in November a group of German lawyers announced [JURIST report] the filing of charges against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, alleging that he committed war crimes in Aleppo.