Syria Might Be Headed to the International Criminal Court

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France has reportedly written a resolution in the hopes of referring civil-war-torn Syria to the International Criminal Court, according to Foreign Policy. The resolution is currently in draft form but could circulate among the 15 delegations on the Security Council next week.

Sending Syria to the ICC is a complicated diplomatic issue because the United States never ratified the Rome Statute that established the court. Subsequently, the Golan Heights, a disputed area claimed by both Syria and Israel, pose an issue, because “the United States has long worried that any referral [of Syria] to the court could implicate Israel, a close ally, and bring [the U.S.] before the tribunal.”

The French draft resolution is apparently very delicately worded, exempting officials and personnel of countries that have not ratified the Rome Statute, except for Syria. Because Syria has not ratified the statute either, “only the U.N. Security Council has the power to invite the prosecutor to investigate crimes that occur beyond the reach of the court’s jurisdiction.” In other words, the ICC can’t investigate alleged war crimes in Syria until the Security Council directs it to do so.

Dancing around involving the U.S. is a diplomatic power play by France. Allowing the American delegation to approval the resolution without consequence leaves Russia as the only permanent Security Council member who might exercise its veto power.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.