Switzerland is “extremely worried” about the situation in Syria, and wants all allegations of violence against civilians there to be investigated, and those presumed responsible to be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court.
“Whoever the perpetrators of the crimes in Syria are, they must know that they will have to answer for their acts in a court of law,” said Switzerland’s representative to the United Nations, Paul Seger, speaking in an open debate on the protection of civilians at the UN Security Council on Monday.
“The fight against impunity is a necessary condition for a lasting peace,” he maintained.
On the subject of humanitarian access to civilians in areas of conflict, he pointed out that such access was becoming increasingly difficult in today’s armed conflicts, and that non-state armed groups “continue to pose a challenge for the protection of civilians”.
“Whenever the question of evaluating the interest of engagement is raised, the consequences for civilians are the most important criterion,” he said, and warned of the “potentially negative effects” of some of the measures adopted by some countries in pursuit of the “legitimate goal of fighting terrorism”.
“It would be regrettable if these measures complicated or indeed prevented the establishment of a dialogue for purely humanitarian purposes and prevented access to vulnerable populations by humanitarian staff, and the strengthening of respect for international humanitarian law by armed groups,” he said.
Earlier this month Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, called for an investigation of the use of drone strikes by the United States to kill suspected militants in Pakistan, saying that they kill innocent civilians.
"Drone attacks do raise serious questions about compliance with international law, in particular the principle of distinction and proportionality," she said after a four day fact finding visit to Pakistan.