Doha, Qatar – Seeking to find ways to hold individuals and countries accountable for war crimes and human rights violations around the world, speakers at a conference in the Qatari capital have recommended the establishment of an international mechanism to combat impunity and the disregard of international law by powerful nations.
The problem is particularly acute in the Arab world, where devastating atrocities during civil wars and widespread human rights abuses are committed by regimes and armed groups alike, the speakers said on Monday.
A lack of regional legislation and mechanisms to deter such violations bring the problems to crisis levels, with hundreds of thousands killed in Syria, Yemen going through the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and Libya witnessing a burgeoning conflict.
The international conference on “national, regional, and international mechanisms to combat impunity and ensure accountability under international law” was sponsored by Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC).
The NHRC chief, Ali bin Samikh al-Marri, noted the lack of a proper criminal justice system in the Arab world to deal with war crimes and rights abuses, and said the road to addressing violations must come through “fostering national, regional and international criminal justice mechanisms”.
‘Lack of action’
But critics argue the international community and the UN organisations have “failed” to act against those who committed war crimes and human rights violations in the region.
“The people of Syria are very frustrated with the lack of action by the international community to hold the regime of President Bashar al-Assad accountable for its war crimes against the Syrian people,” said Fadel Abdul Ghani of the Syrian Network for Human Rights.
The Syrian government stands accused of committing chemical attacks against civilians and other war crimes during eight years of war.
Abdul Ghani said the international community has failed and that “Syria is a huge example of this failure”.
Qatari lawyer Abdullah Taher raised concern the United States and other world powers are not held accountable for their misdeeds in the Arab world and elsewhere.
Only developing countries and poor ones are “held to account by the international organisations”, he said.
“We want solutions for holding those responsible for committing war crimes in the region held to account.”
‘Unexpected and deeply flawed’
On April 12, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague turned down a request by its chief prosecutor to open a war crimes probe in Afghanistan, which could have looked into the possible role of US forces in wrongdoing, saying it “would not serve the interests of justice”.