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26 Dec, 2016 05:26

‘Voluntarily-funded independent probe’ into Syria war crimes will serve sponsors – Churkin

‘Voluntarily-funded independent probe’ into Syria war crimes will serve sponsors – Churkin

The idea that an investigation “funded by voluntary contributions” will be able to maintain impartiality instead of delivering the results desired by its sponsors is somewhat dubious, said Russia’s UN envoy, who derided UNGA’s recent resolution on Syria.

The non-binding resolution, approved by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on Thursday, created a dangerous legal precedent and would not contribute to the cessation of hostilities in Syria, Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vitaliy Churkin, told newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta (RG).

“This decision of the General Assembly was not right ... we honestly believe that the General Assembly does not have the authority to establish such institutions,” said Churkin. “The Secretary General, however, has received corresponding instructions, and it looks like the new Secretary General will have to deal with the issue.”

According to Churkin, it has apparently become a common and dangerous practice in the UN, when a flawed resolution which fails to get a consensus within the Security Council instead gets passed through the General Assembly. This is despite the fact that the issues currently under UNSC consideration should not be interfered with by the General Assembly, according to the UN Charter.

“This happens when some difficulties in the work of the UNSC show up. The resolutions, as a result, come to the General Assembly, though it should not happen according to the Charter,” Churkin said. The resolution basically contradicts not only the UN Charter but the basic principle of state sovereignty itself, blatantly interfering with the domestic affairs of a UN-member state.

“We find the draft resolution to be an unconstructive move, on both legal and political grounds,” Iran’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN Gholam-Hossein Dehqani said in New York on Wednesday.

The whole idea of an “independent” institution that depends on “voluntary donations” to investigate alleged “war crimes” in Syria raises serious concerns, according to Churkin.

“The resolution states that the new structure will be based on voluntary contributions. That means in fact, that the one who’ll give money, sponsor this group will expect the results they desire. It will obviously be ‘anti-Damascus’ and ‘anti-Assad’ investigations,” the Russian diplomat said.

READ MORE: UN Security Council unanimously passes resolution on monitoring Aleppo evacuations

Such a resolution, while not being well thought-out or based on solid legal grounds, was easily adopted almost purely due to the emotions of the UN General Assembly's members.

“The General Assembly’s resolution is a result of everyone having nerves ‘naked’ regarding the Syrian issue. Many delegations are willing to vote in favor of anything, any resolution with a declared goal of ceasing hostilities in Syria,” Churkin told RG.

“The majority of the UN members are ready to support such a document, without thinking of its legal and practical consequences. The reality is that if you propose a resolution to the General Assembly and say that it’s crucial for stopping the violence in Syria, the majority would vote for it without even reading the document.”

The UN General Assembly adopted the resolution on Thursday calling for the creation of an “impartial and independent mechanism” to assist in investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the “most serious crimes” in Syria. The resolution was introduced by Lichtenstein and actively backed by the US, France, the UK, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar – the countries well known for supporting “moderate,” not so moderate and openly extremist groups in Syria.

Despite the declaration of “independence” the proposed institution is expected to be “funded by voluntary contributions.” The General Assembly asked the Secretary General to establish this mechanism in 20 days time.