Over 50 countries ask Security Council to refer Syria to court

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“At the very least, the council should send out an unequivocal message urging the Syrian authorities and all other parties to fully respect international human rights and humanitarian law in the ongoing conflict,” read the letter.

The letter said the council should announce “that it intends to refer the situation to the ICC unless a credible, fair and independent accountability process is being established in a timely manner.”

Syria is not a party to the Rome Statute, which set up the International Criminal Court, so the only way the court can investigate the situation is if it receives a referral from the Security Council. The council has previously referred conflicts in Libya and Darfur, Sudan to the court.

International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has unsuccessfully tried to get Russia and the United States to agree on how to end the violence in Syria.

Brahimi has said the main sticking point was the issue of Assad. The United States, European powers and Gulf-led Arab states insist he must step down to end the war, but Russia has said Assad's exit cannot be a precondition for a peace deal.

Brahimi’s predecessor, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, warned on Monday that if no political proposals were put forward then a stalemate could be created. Annan had blamed the Security Council impasse for hampering his six-month bid to broker peace and leading to his decision to step down.

“Those who are saying mediation is a waste of time have offered no alternative, they are hoping for intervention, but I haven’t seen any countries lining up to intervene,” Annan told reporters. “You have a situation where you have a sectarian war coming up and Syria can explode beyond its borders.”

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