Informal meeting of the General Assembly
on the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria IIIM
Statement by Nikulás Hannigan, Deputy Permanent Representative, Iceland
Thank you for convening this very timely informal debate on the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria. I also thank Mme Christine March-Uhel for her briefing and Liechtenstein and Qatar for their leadership on this issue.
First let me underline Iceland’s strong support for the establishment and mandate of the Mechanism. We provided funding for the first year of operation, 2017 and my government is well advanced in allocating further funds for 2018 and will announce them in the near future.
The need for this Mechanism for Syria cannot be in doubt. Only last week, the Secretary-General, speaking of the 8 years of war in Syria, referred to the “systematic violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law” and of the “utter disregard of the letter and spirit of the United Nations Charter.”
The Security Council has struggled to find unity to address these flagrant violations. Most recently, the Security Council failed to ensure accountability for the use of chemical weapons in Syria, a war crime under all circumstances. In the light of the ongoing divisions in the Security Council, the establishment of the IIIM seems an act of great foresight by the General Assembly. Without the Mechanism, there would be a high risk of losing the evidence vital to bringing criminal charges for the most serious crimes. Victims would be left without justice, perpetrators would evade accountability, impunity would encourage further violations in the future. Accountability and transitional justice are essential to a sustainable peace.
We would like to pay tribute to the work of Mme Catherine Marchi-Uhel, the Head of the Mechanism, for the careful preparatory work already done. The additional focus on gender-based crimes and sexual violence and crimes against children, as well as the outreach to civil society organizations is particularly welcome.
While Iceland is proud to contribute financially to getting the Mechanism off the ground, the General Assembly did not intend the Mechanism to be funded from voluntary contributions ad infinitum. This mechanism established by the General Assembly and mandated to assist in investigation of the most serious crimes under international law, must be funded from the UN’s regular budget. We therefore strongly urge the Secretary-General to propose a budget line for the mechanism.