A Coalition of Syrian American Organizations Decry the Inappropriate Use of “Restorative Justice” by United Nations Syria Envoy
On the anniversary of the passage of the United Nations Security Resolution 2254, a coalition of Syrian American organizations call on the United Nations to pursue accountability for all those responsible for atrocities while following the steps outlined in the resolution that will lead to a peaceful political transition.
WASHINGTON D.C., December 22, 2020 – A coalition of Syrian American organizations advise a recommitment by the United Nations to a political transition that prioritizes accountability as a prerequisite for any national reconciliation as laid out in UNSCR 2254. This comes in light of inaccurate statements on December 16 by the Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, on behalf of the “middle third” of the Constitutional Committee during a United Nations Security Council briefing. The comments erroneously reported that civil society members of the group had called for “restorative justice” instead of “transitional justice” in their talking points. After almost ten years of violence and crimes against humanity by Bashar al-Assad and his criminal regime, restorative justice is not a substitute for an inclusive and Syrian-led political transitional process and should never be used in discussions about the future of Syria.
Despite a clarification by the office of the Special Envoy for Syria on the technical oversight that led to Mr. Pedersen referring to restorative and restitutive justice instead of transitional justice during the briefing before the UNSC, the coalition of Syrian American organizations reminds the United Nations that an error like that should never happen. This incident makes it clear that there needs to be more consultation, inclusion, and accurate and full participation of Syrian civil society for a future political process that meets the will of the Syrian people. After years of failures by the UN to provide objective inclusion of civil society voices alongside Russian and regime actors, it is clear that a pattern of inequity continues. Transitional justice should be a focal point of any justice and accountability proceedings by the international community.
The coalition of Syrian American organizations remains deeply concerned about the continued rule of Bashar al-Assad, who after almost a decade of violence against his people, has overseen an inadequate and troubling response to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and growing economic and food insecurity. The members and leadership of these organizations represent a diverse diaspora, a part of which was forced to leave their homes and families behind in a country that they cannot return to, and a part who can never visit their parents’ homeland because of their political views. Their perspectives are vital and important in the future political process. As a step towards elevating and including these voices, Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen should set up a meeting with the signees of this statement to discuss transitional justice and accountability.
Organizations signing on to this statement include:
Americans for a Free Syria
Citizens for a Secure and Safe America
Free Syria PAC
Kayla’s List PAC
Syria Faith Initiative
Syrian American Council
Syrian Christians for Peace
Syrian Emergency Task Force
Syrian Institute for Progress
CC: United States Mission To The United Nations