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In “Bring justice to Syria” (Views, June 12), Bernard Kouchner writes that “the U.N. secretary general can recommend an investigation by the prosecutor of the ICC.” This is correct: He can and he should recommend that the International Criminal Court be given jurisdiction for crimes committed in Syria. Indeed, the high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, has already recommended that the Security Council refer Syria to the court, and a number of countries have voiced their support for such a referral.

Unfortunately, because Syria has not signed on to the court’s treaty, the prosecutor alone cannot bring the court’s jurisdiction into play. Either the Security Council, or Syria itself, must do this. Victims can and should certainly forward information regarding crimes to the court. But without a Security Council referral, jurisdiction will be an issue. As Kouchner highlights, this prospect is currently blocked by Russia and others. This is why it’s so important for countries committed to justice to press these states to allow the Security Council to refer Syria to the ICC.  

Balkees Jarrah, New York

Counsel, International Justice Program, Human Rights Watch

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