The Syrian War, a brutal and protracted conflict that has raged since 2011, has left an indelible mark on the world.
The war has been characterized by its complexity, with numerous regional and international actors, each with vested interests. Yet, amidst the political maneuverings and military strategies, one fact remains tragically overlooked: an estimated 130,000 people have gone missing during this conflict.
The reasons behind these disappearances are as complex as the war itself. They range from individuals getting caught in crossfire or bombings to enforced disappearances where people are detained without trial or held in secret detention centers.
The chaos of war, coupled with the involvement of numerous factions, has created a perfect storm where accountability is lost.
Beyond Borders: Global Impact of Syrian War
The Syrian War’s impacts extend beyond the immediate region. Economically, it has led to a massive refugee crisis, putting strain on neighboring countries and Europe. Politically, it has become a battleground for international powers, each supporting different factions within the conflict.
In this grim scenario, the United Nations’ recent announcement to launch an investigation into these missing persons is a beacon of hope. This initiative signifies an important step towards accountability and justice, offering a glimmer of solace to the families who have spent years in agonizing uncertainty about their loved one’s fate.
“None of my friends and family members knew where I was. To the world, I was a missing person. But I was kept in prisons across Syria and tortured,” said Ahmad Helmi, an activist and human rights defender.
“It is important to set up an independent institution to find missing people in Syria and also other warzones. What we have experienced is a crime against humanity, and our perpetrators have to be held accountable,” Helmi said.
However, the task is daunting. Uncovering the truth in a war-torn country with fractured records and widespread fear will be an uphill battle. Moreover, the implications of such an investigation could be far-reaching.
If the probe uncovers evidence of war crimes or crimes against humanity, it could lead to international trials and sanctions against those responsible. Securing a majority vote for this resolution has proven to be a challenge for the UN. Among the nations opposing the resolution were Syria, Russia, China, Belarus, North Korea, Cuba, and Iran.
Understanding each country’s stance requires an examination of their political relationships and strategic interests. Syria, being the subject of investigation, naturally opposes the resolution.
Russia and Iran, as principal allies of the Syrian government, also resisted the move. Their opposition could stem from concerns about setting a precedent that might one day turn against them or their allies.
China, North Korea, Belarus, and Cuba’s opposition likely stems from their general stance against what they perceive as Western interference in sovereign nations’ internal affairs.
Approaches for UN: Balancing Justice and Diplomacy
In the face of such opposition, the UN and supporting countries have a delicate task. They must balance the need for justice and accountability with respect for international law and norms.
One approach the UN could take is to engage in diplomatic dialogue with these opposing nations. Presenting concrete evidence of the atrocities, emphasizing the humanitarian aspect of the resolution, and assuring that the investigation will adhere to international law norms may sway some nations.
Moreover, the UN could work with neutral countries to mediate discussions. It could also seek support from influential regional organizations, such as the Arab League or African Union, to lobby for the resolution.
Additionally, the UN can rally public opinion. Sharing credible, verifiable information about missing persons can galvanize global public opinion, putting pressure on opposing nations. The UN continues to work closely with NGOs and human rights organizations active in Syria. Their on-ground insights and data can strengthen the case for investigation.
While the road to a majority vote is fraught with challenges, the UN’s pursuit of justice for Syria’s missing persons is a cause worth fighting for. Diplomacy, dialogue, and relentless advocacy for human rights must guide the UN’s strategy moving forward.