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War crimes in Syria: Time to appeal to International Criminal Court?

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Another group that tracks the fighting reported that Monday was the deadliest day of the war yet for children, with reports of 21 Syrian children killed in attacks.

The latest examples of violence, in a war that UN authorities say has already claimed more than 60,000 lives, served as a backdrop to the demand for referral of the Syrian crisis to the ICC.

Some skeptics of the ICC route say that, while the Swiss letter reflects understandable desperation in the international community to find a way to overcome the Security Council impasse on Syria, going to the court in The Hague would have no effect on the civil war. Other critics say the ICC route could actually put off resolution of the conflict by convincing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that his only alternative is to stay put and fight.

But others say international judicial action can have an impact, and they point to the Balkans war of the 1990s as an example. In a statement backing ICC referral, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the record in cases like the Balkans “confirms that criminal indictments of senior political, military, and rebel leaders can actually strengthen peace efforts by delegitimizing and marginalizing those who stand in the way of the conflict’s resolution.”

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