I hope the Human Rights Council critics here in Washington are paying attention to Geneva later this week when the Council condemns Syria.
Reuters broke the story last night that the Human Rights Council will meet in an emergency session on Friday to consider a resolution on Syria. A draft resolution in circulation strongly condemns the abuses and asks the Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court. The Arab League is strongly behind this move. And I suspect that like a similar resolution on Libya at the Human Rights Council, the measure will pass with broad support from every corner of the earth. That, in turn, will make it harder for countries like Russia and China to reject the Human Rights Council’s recommendation about referring the situation to the ICC.
When this issue gets kicked to the Security Council, which will probably be next week, I would imagine that Russia and China will abstain from a resolution referring the situation to the ICC. At that point, it will only take a couple of months–or less–for the ICC’s prosecutor to compile enough evidence for an arrest warrant.
The writing is on the wall. Bashar al Assad’s days are numbered.
Detractors here in the United States complain that the council singularly focuses on Israel. But the fact of the matter is that those resolutions on Israel don’t do anything or go anywhere because they lack the support of key member states. On the other hand, the Human Rights Council certainly proved its value in February when it was the first international body to condemn Libya. And, later this week, we will see how it provides the human rights community with a lever to coax countries like China and Russia to accepting the global consensus that the Syrian regime should face international justice.
At some point in the near future, the ICC will issue an arrest warrant for Bashar al Assad. When that day comes, remember that it was the Human Rights Council that kicked off the series of events that lead to Assad ending up on a most-wanted list.