The Netherlands to make additional contribution to Syria war crimes database

The Netherlands will contribute €1.5 million to the United Nations’ mechanism to collect evidence of atrocities committed in Syria since 2011, foreign minister Bert Koenders announced on Thursday. The minister is attending the UN General Assembly in New York.

The UN set up the Syria Investigative Mechanism in late 2016. Staff will collect and analyse evidence of the most serious crimes. They will also draw up case files that can be used in criminal proceedings at a later date.

‘Without justice there can be no peace,’ said Mr Koenders. ‘So those who commit horrific crimes must be punished. But, for the Syrian people, justice is a long-term process. It will require a sustained effort on the part of the international community.’

Mr Koenders also met with the head of the Mechanism, Catherine Marchi-Uhel. He assured her of the Netherlands’ full cooperation in ensuring the Mechanism’s success, part of which involves an annual contribution, according to the minister. The Netherlands was the first country to contribute to the Mechanism immediately after it was established, providing €1 million.

Mr Koenders has spent much time in New York this week discussing the situation in Syria, for instance at a meeting led by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The participants, which included Germany, France, the UK and Jordan, agreed on the need for a sustainable political solution to the conflict in Syria. This remains a strict condition before any investment can be made in reconstruction. ‘Stability in Syria is only possible if there is justice, and if justice is done,’ said Mr Koenders.

The minister also met with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura in order to discuss the peace talks in Geneva. The Koenders stressed that, for the Netherlands, it is vital that Syrians themselves decide on their country’s future.