Syria Deeply: Thank You and Happy New Year

As 2017 draws to a close, all of us at News Deeply would like to thank you for being part of our powerful, growing community and for recognizing the importance of great journalism.

Your attention, contributions and intelligent, thoughtful feedback have inspired and guided us throughout the past year. Here are just a few examples of work contributed by our community members in 2017 (including selections from our newest platforms, Oceans Deeply and Malnutrition Deeply):

In 2018, expect to hear from us as we experiment with new ways to deliver information, share insights from across our communities and help you accomplish your vital work more effectively.

We look forward to your participation and partnership, and to the results we’ll achieve together.

Wishing you a healthy and happy New Year.

The News Deeply Team

P.S. In case you need something extra to read over the holidays, here are a few more of our favorite and most-read pieces from 2017. 

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War Crimes Prosecution Watch: Volume 12, Issue 21 – December 26, 2017


Michael P. Scharf

War Crimes Prosecution Watch

Volume 12 – Issue 21
December 26, 2017

James Prowse

Technical Editor-in-Chief
Samantha Smyth

Managing Editors
Rina Mwiti
Alexandra Mooney

War Crimes Prosecution Watch is a bi-weekly e-newsletter that compiles official documents and articles from major news sources detailing and analyzing salient issues pertaining to the investigation and prosecution of war crimes throughout the world. To subscribe, please email and type “subscribe” in the subject line.

Opinions expressed in the articles herein represent the views of their authors and are not necessarily those of the War Crimes Prosecution Watch staff, the Case Western Reserve University School of Law or Public International Law & Policy Group.




Central African Republic

Sudan & South Sudan

Democratic Republic of the Congo



Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

Lake Chad Region — Chad, Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon





Rwanda (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda)





Court of Bosnia & Herzegovina, War Crimes Chamber

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Domestic Prosecutions In The Former Yugoslavia





Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal

War Crimes Investigations in Burma

Israel and Palestine


North & Central America

South America


Truth and Reconciliation Commission



Gender-Based Violence


Commentary and Perspectives


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Syrian Network for Human Rights: The Syrian Regime Has Dropped Nearly 70,000 Barrel Bombs on Syria

The Ruthless Bombing

The Syrian Regime Has Dropped Nearly 70,000 Barrel Bombs on Syria

SNHR has released a report entitled: “The Ruthless Bombing” which documents that Syrian regime forces has dropped nearly 70,000 barrel bombs since July 2012.

The report says that the use of barrel bombs by the Syrian regime army manifest one of the most appalling ways in which the international community has blatantly let down the Syrian people as these barrel bombs have been forgotten almost completely in the last year with no condemnations to be heard about the repeated use of this barbarian type of weapons. Additionally, the report questions the possibility of accepting a regime that drops barbarian barrels on its own country without agreeing to any form of political settlements, except for one that rehabilitees it and only leads to giving some ceremonial ministries to its opponents.

Fadel Abdul Ghany, chairman of SNHR, says:
“The repeated use of this arbitrary, indiscriminate weapon against residential communities is a message to the Syrian people that protecting civilians and the international law are mere illusions, and that you have to submit and accept the regime that is killing you. Security Council has to take decisive action against the Syrian regime’s use of arbitrary weapon on this large, widespread scale. The U.N. special envoy has also to play a more effectual role in putting an end to the winter of barrel bombs in Syria.”

The report documents the toll of barrel bomb use by Syrian regime forces from the first time it was used in July 2012 until December 2017 and the resultant casualties and attacks on vital civilian facilities. The report stresses that the use of barrel bombs haven’t stopped for even one month, including the months that saw de-escalation agreements or Geneva Talks.

The report draws upon the daily, ongoing, routine monitoring and documentation efforts, in addition to accounts by survivors, eyewitnesses, and local media activists as the report contains nine accounts. Also, the report relies on videos and pictures that were posted online.

The report sheds light on the nature of barrel bombs, manufacture methods used by the Syrian regime, types of containers and explosive materials, and whatever chemical or incendiary substances that are added in some cases. Also, the report outlines a number of areas where the Syrian regime used barrel bombs heavily in the context of military progression such as Darayya city and Khan al Sheih town in Damascus suburbs, and al Mayadeen city in Deir Ez-Zour.

The report records that no less than 68,334 barrel bombs have been dropped by Syrian regime helicopters or fixed-wing warplanes from its first documented use in July 2012 until December 2017. These barrel bombs have resulted in the killing of 10,763 civilians, including 1,734 children and 1,689 women (adult female). In addition, no less than 565 attacks on vital civilian facilities were recorded in which barrel bombs were used, including 76 on medical facilities, 140 on schools, 160 on mosques, and 50 on markets.

According to the report, the governorates that saw the largest portion of barrel bombs were Damascus and its suburbs, followed by Aleppo and then Daraa while barrel bombs were used the most in 2015 where Syrian regime forces dropped 17,318 barrel bombs in that year alone.

The report says that Security Council resolution 2139 represented some hope for the Syrian people due to the fact that barrel bombs were explicitly mentioned in that resolution which also promised to take further steps in the case of non-compliance. However, the rate of barrel bomb use, according to the report, never changed after the resolution was adopted. The report divides the overall toll of barrel bombs before and after the resolution as the report records no less than 20,183 barrel bombs since from July 2012 to February 22, 2014, when the resolution was adopted, while no less than 48,151 barrel bombs were documented in the period of time from the resolution was adopted until December 2017.

According to the report, 87 attacks with barrel bombs loaded with a poison gas and four attacks with barrel bombs loaded with incendiary ammunitions were recorded. All of these attacks took place after Security Council resolution 2139 was adopted.

The report stresses that the Syrian government has, beyond any doubt, violated Security Council Resolutions 2139 and 2254, and used barrel bombs in a systematic, widespread manner. Also, the Syrian government, through the crime of willful killing, has violated Article 7 of Rome Statute as well as the rules of the international human rights law, which guarantee the right to life. Seeing that these crimes were committed in a non-international armed conflict, it constitutes war crimes.

The report adds that barrel bomb attacks are an indiscriminate bombing that targeted defenseless civilians and caused significant damages to civilian objects. The damage was too excessive compared to the anticipated military benefit.

According to the report, The Syrian regime has violated the rules of the customary international law, the CWC, and all relevant Security Council resolutions -particularly 2118, 2209, and 2235- through the use of barrel bombs. Additionally, using chemical weapons constitutes a war crime according to the ICC’s Rome Statue.

Furthermore, the report says that Syrian regime forces have used barrel bombs loaded with incendiary ammunitions against populated residential neighborhoods without taking any measures to reduce the damages to civilians and civilian buildings and facilities.

The report calls on the Security Council to ensure the serious implementation of its resolutions, and calls on the four permanent state members to apply pressure on the Russian government in order to cease its support for the Syrian regime. In addition, the report stresses that an arms embargo should be imposed on the Syrian regime and all those who supply the Syrian regime with finance and weapon should be prosecuted in light of the risk of these weapons being used in crimes and serious violations of human rights.

Also, the report calls on the Security Council to refer the Syrian case to the International Criminal Court and provide all possible facilitations in this regard. Additionally, the report says that the Security Council should start imposing security and peace and Syria and prosecute all those whose involvement in perpetrating war crimes and crimes against humanity should be prosecuted. The report calls on the European Union and the United States to support the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism that was established in accordance with General Assembly Resolution 71/248, adopted on December 21, 2016, establish local tribunals that enjoy a universal jurisdiction, and address the war crimes that were perpetrated in Syria.

The report says that steps should be taken on the national and regional levels to form alliances to support and protect the Syrian people from the daily killing. In addition, steps should be taken to put the principle of universal jurisdiction into practice with regard to these crimes before local tribunals. Moreover, the report says that pressure should be applied on the Syrian government in order to compel it to ratify Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and comply with its restrictions.

The report calls for the implementation of the “Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) norm especially after all political steps had been consumed through the agreement of the Arab League and then Kofi Annan’s plan and the Cessation of Hostilities statements and Astana Agreements that followed. Therefore, steps under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations should be taken, and the norm of the Responsibility to Protect, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly, should be implemented. The Security Council is still hindering the protection of civilians in Syria.

International Center for Transitional Justice: Year in Review 2017

Explore our global impact in 2017
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2017 was a tumultuous year for justice, full of setbacks and successes. Through it all, ICTJ stood with those seeking to break the cycle of massive human rights violations and lay the foundations for peace, justice, and inclusion.
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Dear friends,

2017 has been a difficult year for those of us working in the human rights field. We have seen the resurgence of illiberal powers and populism coupled with a growing disdain for human rights across a wide swath of capitals, including some which have abruptly switched sides. At the same time, some traditional supporters of human rights organizations have pulled back their support.

Against this challenging background, I am proud to report that ICTJ continues to push forward for justice, for victims, and for accountability. We have adopted a new strategic plan that is built around the proposition that in these difficult times ICTJ can make a difference in contexts around the world by working more creatively and more efficiently with a wider variety of partners.

Thus, despite the current morass in Syria, instead of waiting for a far-off transition, we have engaged deeply with victim groups. These efforts have resulted in a new approach to documentation of the many shocking violations in the country. Focusing on the destruction of schools, this documentation will be presented in Geneva to a Panel of Conscience, composed of high level international officials, in March 2018. It will allow the world to hear the voices of victims and their quest for justice in a much more direct way. This approach will bring the plight of victims to a wider audience in Europe and beyond.

ICTJ continues to play a unique role in the peace process in Colombia, ensuring that justice remains at the heart of the process. We provide support in a myriad of ways through constant engagement with civil society and the parties to the peace agreement. Juan Mendez, former ICTJ President, has continued to serve as ICTJ’s representative on the Selection Panel for the judges who will serve on the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. ICTJ serves as a key and trusted interlocutor for all.

In Tunisia, the landscape remains difficult, but our team, composed largely of women, has worked tirelessly and earned trust from all sectors of society. I had the honor of attending the public hearings of the Truth and Dignity Commission, which electrified the nation and the region. ICTJ’s support helped the hearings capture the imagination of not just the Tunisian public, but the world.

There is much else that ICTJ has done over the last year that are highlighted in our Year in Review gallery. We have addressed the consequences of impunity in a range of countries, from the Philippines to Myanmar as well as the struggle for justice in Nepal, Kenya, and Cote d’Ivoire. ICTJ has worked extensively on the critical questions of peace and justice in a variety of ways, and conducted groundbreaking research on reparations, on truth-telling and on broader transitional justice themes as well. We continue the struggle to ensure that women are included in transitional justice processes.

Finally, we have raised our voice on the question of racial justice in the United States. We seek to help activists, policy makers, and the general public in the United States understand the relevancy of transitional justice experiences around the globe, closing the year with our Annual Lecture on Transitional Justice (co-sponsored with NYU’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice), with a conversation between Darren Walker, Sherrilyn Ifill, and myself. This discussion, along with our other work in this regard, has opened new pathways for ICTJ to contribute to this important discussion in its own backyard.

In a difficult context, ICTJ is grateful for the generous support of our allies in the donor and international communities. Due to their support, and the tireless efforts of our staff, ICTJ has adapted to new realities and made contributions to justice efforts across a range of countries with innovation, determination, and continued refection on how we can do our work more effectively.

As we continue to adapt, ICTJ is expanding its network of supporters by asking likeminded individuals who share our commitment to justice and human rights to consider making an annual gift to ICTJ. Please click here to make your gift and help us continue our work across society and borders.

Best wishes for the holidays and the New Year,

David Tolbert, President
International Center for Transitional Justice


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ASP 2017: Day Nine Summary – Marathon diplomatic negotiation criminalizes aggressive war at ICC

Assembly of States Parties 2017
Marathon diplomatic negotiation criminalizes aggressive war at ICC

Summary Day Nine
Assembly of States Parties 2017

In the very early hours of 15 December, 123 states reached consensus on bringing justice one step closer for victims of aggressive wars. 
For the first time since the post-WWII trials in Nuremburg and Tokyo, an international court may be able to hold leaders individually criminally responsible for the crime of aggression, at times referred to as the ‘Crime against Peace’.

Get all the updates from the final day of ASP, Day Nine, here.

States elect five women and one man to serve nine year terms as ICC judges.
As five of the six outgoing ICC judges are women, the Coalition campaigned to ensure that female candidates were nominated by states to ensure fair gender representation on the ICC bench.
We urged states to seek out the very best and most qualified female candidates to uphold this fundamental standard.

Day One: UN Secretary General, ICC President and Prosecutor call for global justice effort

Day Two: Judges’ elections rule the day

Day Three: Elections’ finale, general debate commences

Day Four: General Debate dominates; Talks on Crime of Aggression activation

Day Five: NGOs enter the fray, justice policy talks ahead of Rome Statute 20th

Day Six: State cooperation crucial for an effective ICC

Day Seven: Building better institutions for global justice

Keep up to date with our daily summaries from ASP 2017 plenary discussions, side events, and other key developments, as well as related news coverage and publications. Follow us on Twitter with the hashtag #ASP16 for real time updates..

Daily Agenda: ASP 2017
ASP 2017: Background, documents & more
Coalition key recommendations to ASP 2017
Will it be activated? All you need to know
2017 at a Glance: International Criminal Court
Campaign on ICC elections: Elect the best
Join the fight for global justice
We led the successful campaign to set up the International Criminal Court for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Now we fight for global justice through national courts and the now well-established ICC in The Hague.

Help build the global civil society movement to end impunity.


Civil society in 150 countries fighting for global justice for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide

We made international justice happen. Now we’re making it work.
Policy on ICC investigations and cases
The Coalition is an independent civil society network fighting for global justice for grave crimes through the International Criminal Court and national courts. The Coalition does not endorse, promote or take a position on any ICC situations, investigations or prosecutions. Individual Coalition members may endorse referrals, provide legal and other support on investigations, or develop partnerships with local and other organizations in the course of their efforts.

This email is an informal and unofficial summary of news coverage. The Coalition does not take a position on or endorse any articles summarized in this email. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, the Coalition is not responsible for any omissions or inaccuracies contained within source articles or this email, which is provided for informational purposes only.

The content of this email is not exhaustive – please send us material for inclusion.
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