IIIM Calls for Justice & Accountability at the Brussels Conference on “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region” 

“The answer must be accountability.” 

29 May, Geneva – At the 8th edition of the Brussels Conference on ‘Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region’, Mr. Robert Petit, Head of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM), underscored the crucial role of justice and accountability in building a future Syria grounded in the rule of law. 

During the Ministerial Day, Mr. Petit expressed, “Since March 2011, the international community has been unable to speak with one voice to hold those most responsible for the crimes committed in Syria accountable.” He highlighted the ongoing atrocities and the impunity gap, stating, “More than ever, the answer must be accountability.” 

Mr. Petit pointed to the progress made by the IIIM, with the support and “unprecedented effort by Syrian civil society organizations and victim and survivor associations”. He referenced the assistance the IIIM has already provided to 192 distinct investigations, saying, “Our evidence, analyses, witness interviews, and partnerships are helping to bring justice for Syrians now.” He also emphasized that by investigating broad patterns of crimes the IIIM aims “to lay the groundwork for future justice efforts.” 

These efforts include the ongoing case at the International Court of Justice brought by Canada and the Netherlands, regarding Syria’s obligations under the Convention against Torture. The IIIM is preparing to provide support in the form of a report on the Syrian detention system. A version of the report will be made public.  

Mr. Petit urged member states to continue their support with tangible contributions, “Justice and accountability require time and resources. This applies to both the United Nations and civil society actors alike.  I call on you to fund the broad range of international justice actors pursuing pathways to accountability.” 

The High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell affirmed the EU’s continued support for the IIIM in his opening remarks, as did many representatives, including from Belgium, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. 

Mr. Petit was able to engage with Syrian civil society representatives at a side-event hosted by the Global Survivors Fund highlighting how the crucial support provided by Syrian civil society actors enabled the IIIM to fulfil its mandate towards inclusive justice.  

During a breakfast meeting hosted by Belgium’s Ambassador Mr. Piet Heirbaut, Director General for Legal Affairs at the Belgian Foreign Ministry, to introduce Mr. Petit as the newly appointed Head, he thanked the Ambassador, Member States present as well as the European Union, for their steadfast support of the IIIM. Mr. Petit expressed hope for continued cooperation to deliver justice and accountability to contribute to a sustainable peace in Syria and reiterated the need for additional funds in order to continue the IIIM’s successful mandate implementation.  

About the IIIM 

The International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) is mandated to assist in the investigation and prosecution of persons responsible for the most serious crimes under international law committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011. 

Established in December 2016 by the UN General Assembly, the IIIM was the first UN body of its kind. It became operational in 2018 and has already received 375 requests for assistance from 16 different jurisdictions, It has to date supported 261 requests for assistance, related to 192 distinct investigations

Mr. Robert Petit, the second Head of the IIIM, was appointed by the Secretary-General and assumed his position on 2 May 2024. 

For more information on the IIIM’s work and activities visit iiim.un.org or contact [email protected]