Mark Kersten

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A toddler looks at members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces while waiting to be searched, after leaving the Islamic State's last holdout of Baghouz, in the eastern Syrian Deir Ezzor province on Friday. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)

Eight years after the onset of the civil war, international justice has done little for Syria, but Syria has done a lot for international justice. Strategic accountability efforts are yielding important results. Sweden, France, and especially Germany are at the forefront of investigating and prosecuting Syrian perpetrators of international crimes. These states are flexing their ability to use universal jurisdiction, whereby perpetrators of international crimes can be prosecuted in these states irrespective of their citizenship or where their crimes were committed.

In addition to the modest number of prosecutions in Europe, there have been a handful of other important developments in the pursuit of accountability for atrocities committed in Syria.…  Seguir leyendo »

People run through tear gas May 15 carrying an injured woman at the border fence with Israel in Gaza City, Gaza. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

As the United States moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Israeli government was ecstatic. In contrast, Palestinians were irate, organizing public demonstrations throughout the spring. When the embassy opened its doors May 14, Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition into large crowds of mostly unarmed demonstrators, some of whom were attempting to cross the border.

The result was at least 60 deaths — the deadliest day in Gaza since the 2014 Israeli-Gaza war.

What justice can be done for the victims of violence wrought by both Palestinian militants and Israeli forces on Palestinian civilians? One avenue would be the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has jurisdiction in the Palestinian territories.…  Seguir leyendo »

Armed Libyan men wave their national flags during a demonstration marking the fifth anniversary of the Libyan revolution in Benghazi in February 2016. (AFP/Getty Images)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Libyan militant Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf al-Werfalli. The court claims that Werfalli — who operates under the Libyan National Army (LNA) — committed the war crime of murder over a series of brutal executions. With so many deserving perpetrators around the world, why go after Werfalli and what might this mean for Libya and the ICC itself?

The ICC has sought to address atrocities in Libya since the U.N. Security Council referred the country to the court in 2011. That includes its ongoing and tumultuous struggle to prosecute Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Syrian man makes his way through the rubble of destroyed buildings as he heads to his house in Aleppo’s Dahret Awad neighborhood on Dec. 17 after pro-government forces retook the area from rebel fighters. (Youssef Karwashan/AFP/Getty Images)

For all the talk of justice for mass atrocities in Syria and myriad mechanisms aimed at forcing the international community to bring Syrian war criminals to account, the world has very little to show. But several recent developments at the United Nations General Assembly could lay the foundation for the day when justice in Syria becomes possible.

With the leadership of small and middle powers such as Lichtenstein and Canada, the U.N. General Assembly achieved something historic and unprecedented on Dec. 21: It voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution creating “the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Those Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011.”…  Seguir leyendo »