More than 50 countries asked the UN Security Council [official website] on Monday to refer the situation in Syria [PDF] to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website]. In this joint letter, Switzerland, along with 56 other states from all continents, noted the Syrian authorities' failure to investigate and prosecute [AI report] war crimes allegedly committed since March 2011 as the basis for much-needed accountability and judicial action in the region. The letter stated: "Since [March 2011], the situation on the ground has only become more desperate, with attacks on the civilian population and the commission of atrocities having almost become the norm." Due to the fact that Syria is not a party to the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC, the only way to investigate the matter is to receive a referral from the UN Security Council.
More than 60,000 people have been killed [JURIST report] during a 21-month-old revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [BBC backgrounder], which began with protests that quickly turned into violence between Assad's forces and demonstrators. A study carried out by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] reported that the average number of deaths per month has increased significantly since the summer of 2011, where the average was approximately 1,000 per month, to an average of 5,000 deaths per month since July 2012. In October UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] urged [JURIST report] world powers to work toward ending the suffering in Syria, emphasizing uniformity and cooperation amongst leaders to quell the violence. One year ago UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon [official profile] demanded [JURIST report] that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad end the violence against the Syrian people. Ban called for an embrace of democracy and real reform in Syria and throughout the Middle East.