The Long Road Towards Justice in Syria: Challenges and Perspectives on War Crimes

3 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2018

Date Written: February 22, 2018


This paper will attempt to analyze the prospects and pitfalls of bringing perpetrators to account in Syria. Considering the abundance of evidence that corroborates, beyond doubt, the culprit’s atrocities, there seems a hope for prosecution either by employing the universal jurisdiction principles, or through the establishment of ad hoc tribunals. In addition, a referral to the ICC and domestic Syrian courts, albeit far-fetched, are possible avenues not only to render justice but also to restore victim’s faith on international law and institutions. The pervasive climate of impunity and the grave nature of the abuse warrant such effort to bring the Assad regime to justice. Perhaps the paper acknowledges the limitations associated with the International Laws of War and other statuary (treaty based) conventions that will come to play.

With this goal in mind, the paper is divided into three parts. The first section examines the nature and various dimensions of the war. It is, in short, a concise introduction on the background of the conflict and a search for “taxonomy” under the International Law of Armed Conflict (hereafter LOAC), if there is any. In part two a discussion on the crisis and mayhem will be made in light of war crimes. By making reference to the fundamental elements under the Rome Statute, this section will investigate war crimes that are committed in Syria. The last section will put in perspective the promises and pitfalls associated with holding perpetrators accountable to their actions. Relevant issues of proof including but not limited to elements, instrumentalities and evidences of the offenses, their veracity and accessibility is briefly appraised. Extensive discussion is also made on the prospects for accountability for the crimes, the potential mechanisms available, together with the challenges associated with this “higher road” approach to justice.

Keywords: Syria, War Crimes, ICC, Accountability

Suggested Citation

Kassaye, Kaleab, The Long Road Towards Justice in Syria: Challenges and Perspectives on War Crimes (February 22, 2018). J Civil Legal Sci 2018, 7:1 ; Criminal Justice, Borders and Citizenship Research Paper, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

Kaleab Kassaye (Contact Author)

University of Fribourg ( email )

Avenue de l'Europe 20
CH-1700 Fribourg

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