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U.S. Funding for Accountability Mechanism in Syria is a Step in the Right Direction

Physicians for Human Rights urges other nations to support war crimes investigations

For Immediate Release

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced today that the United States will provide $350,000 for the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM), which was created by the UN in 2016 to provide accountability for the “most serious crimes under international law” committed in the Syrian conflict. Susannah Sirkin, director of international policy and partnerships at Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), issued the following statement in response:

“Physicians for Human Rights welcomes today’s announcement of U.S. funding of the IIIM to support accountability in Syria. The conduct of this conflict has entailed horrific war crimes and the destruction of entire communities with unconscionable loss of life. Medical personnel and infrastructure have been deliberately targeted in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. Since the beginning of the conflict through the end of 2017, PHR researchers have corroborated 492 attacks on health care facilities and the killing of 847 medical personnel. Ninety percent of the documented attacks are attributed to the Syrian government and its allies. These violations, and the human suffering that results from the weaponization of health care, continue unabated to this day.

“The IIIM has a two-pronged mission to investigate and assist in the prosecution of those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is critical to ending impunity in Syria but will require sufficient resources to achieve its mandate. PHR strongly encourages other nations to commit financial support to the IIIM.

“Today’s announcement by Ambassador Haley is encouraging, but the United States must go further to prioritize accountability and civilian protection in its broader Syria strategy. PHR advocates a comprehensive U.S. strategy that prioritizes accountability, civilian protection, and ending the humanitarian crisis. The United States must use its influence and resources to end unlawful attacks on civilians, ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches vulnerable populations, and begin the process of ensuring accountability. Today is an important albeit modest step in that direction.”

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.