UN Appoints New Investigator Into Serious Syrian Crimes

Catherine Marchi-Uhel has been appointed to lead the new UN task force investigating serious crimes in Syria Catherine Marchi-Uhel has been appointed to lead the new UN task force investigating serious crimes in Syria © Chor Sokunthea/ Reuters

July 2017
Catherine Marchi-Uhel’s appointment as head of a new United Nations’ task force to investigating crimes in Syria hailed by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Since widescale fighting in Syria erupted in 2011 between the government of President Bashar Al-Assad and various opposing groups, allegations -- and clear examples -- of serious crimes committed by all sides have been repeated often.

According to HRW, the new UN task force was created last December following Russian efforts to protect Assad, an ally, and should help to overcome the present impasse in the UN Security Council concerning Syria.

“The creation of the team, along with other documentation efforts, are a critical part of the long march to justice for Syria’s victims after years of unchecked atrocities.”

“Their work should help to ensure that the horrendous atrocities committed in Syria over the past six years cannot be swept away with a veto.”

With a staff of 50 and estimated first-year operational costs of $13 million U.S. dollars, HRW called on UN Member States to contribute funds to ensure the success of the taskforce.

Despite the recent resignation of Syrian commission member Carla Del Ponte citing the inaction of the international community, the creation of the taskforce appears to suggest criticisms have been taken on board, and has received praise for its potential to bring justice to Syrians.

The French Foreign Ministry welcomed compatriot Ms. Marchi-Uhel’s appointment and spoke of their hopes for the task force’s successes.

“There will be no lasting peace in Syria as long as the perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity go unpunished,” it noted in a press release.

Ms. Marchi-Uhel brings to the role vast experience in the UN and international law. She was Head of Chambers at the ICTY, Principal Rule of Law Officer at UNMIL, a judge at the ECCC Pre-Trial Chamber and Senior Legal Officer at the ICTY Appeals Chamber. She was appointed as the new United Nations’ Ombudsperson by the Secretary-General in July 2015.


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