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Speeches, 9/21/2017

Remarks by Mr. Soini, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland at the Ministerial Dinner for Core Supporters of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) for the Crimes Committed in Syria

Remarks by H.E. Mr. Timo Soini, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland at the Ministerial Dinner for Core Supporters of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) for the Crimes Committed in Syria. New York, 20 September 2017.

It is a great honor to welcome you to this evening’s discussion on crimes committed in the conflict in Syria. I am pleased to co-host this event together with H.E. Ms. Aurelia Frick, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Justice and Culture of Liechtenstein. I am also pleased that the newly appointed Head of the IIIM, Ms Catherine Marchi-Uhel, is with us today. I wish her all the best in her new position.

My main message tonight is: at least the Syrian people deserve justice. We the international community have not been able to prevent the conflict - or to resolve it. So this is the least we can do, for now. 

Therefore we – the core supporters of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for the crimes committed in Syria (IIIM) – have lent our support for an international mechanism advancing accountability. In fact we were compelled to take this initiative. For reason beyond my comprehension the efforts to refer the situation in Syria to the ICC have been vetoed in the Security Council. Too long we have called for an end to impunity without taking the necessary steps for action. The value of the IIIM should not therefore be undermined. The grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Syria are horrendous and unacceptable. We owe justice to the Syrian people.

But we also have to manage our expectations towards the Mechanism and expectations of the victims. The Mechanism is an important step in the right direction and we hope that it keeps on the pressure for actual legal action. But the Mechanism is not a tribunal nor does it have any authority to prosecute crimes. It is for building a bridge between recent crimes and uncertain future prosecutions. Further action is needed. 

Finland gives its full support to the Mechanism. Ending impunity for the most serious international crimes is high on the agenda of the Finnish Foreign Policy.

It is important that the work of the IIIM gains broad support. It is needed especially now when Ms Marchi-Uhel is launching the operative work of the Mechanism. We need to ensure that this work is supported and that it has sufficient resources. We still need new voluntary contributions. Finland is doing her share by giving 1 million euros for the years 2017-2018. Eventually our goal is to fund the mechanism from the UN budget. 

We hope that this evening provides a good opportunity to discuss how best to support the IIIM.

Thank you.

This document

Updated 9/21/2017

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