Investigating Crimes against Humanity in Syria and Iraq: The Commission for International Justice and Accountability

in Global Responsibility to Protect
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The failure of the United Nations to effect a ‘responsibility to protect’ in Syria and Iraq has provoked acrimonious debates over how the international community should respond to mass atrocities in the contemporary international order. Moreover, the fact that the International Criminal Court and other United Nations (un) agencies remain unable to investigate in Syria and Iraq, has reinvigorated debate on the mechanisms available to bring those most responsible for humanities gravest crimes to account. This article examines the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (cija). As non-state actors, cija conduct their investigations outside the United Nations system, with the aim of investigating and preparing case briefs for the most senior leaders suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria; and war crimes, crimes against humanity and allegations of genocide in Iraq. This article argues that in preparing case briefs for individual criminal liability for a future prosecution, cija have attempted to extend the system of international criminal law, and in so doing, pose a challenge to traditional notions of the state in relation to the concept of war and the law, and the relationship between power and law in the international system. The article concludes by the asking the question: does the international community have a ‘responsibility to prosecute’ those suspected of criminal misconduct?

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