War Crimes in Syria: The Challenge of Promoting Accountability and Protecting Civilians

The Hon. Stephen J. Rapp
Ambassador-at-Large for War CrimesIssues, Office of Global Criminal Justice
US Department of State

The Hon. Frederic C. Hof
Senior Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East
Atlantic Council


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President Bashar al-Assad's regime is systematically committing mass atrocities against the Syrian people. The use of chemical weapons, starvation sieges, and shrapnel bomb campaigns in residential areas are well documented. Opposition groups, in particular extremist groups such as ISIS, are also committing atrocities. Even as these war crimes and crimes against humanity continue apace, it is not too soon for the international community to consider measures and mechanisms to hold the guilty parties responsible. Please join the Atlantic Council and the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG) for a conversation about the US State Department's ongoing efforts to promote accountability for these egregious crimes.

Prior to heading the Office of Global Criminal Justice, Ambassador Stephen J. Rapp served as prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, responsible for leading the prosecutions of former Liberian President Charles Taylor and others accused of atrocities committed during the civil war in Sierra Leone. Amb. Rapp also served as senior trial attorney and chief of prosecutions at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Ambassador Frederic C. Hof, the Council's lead expert on Syria, he served as special adviser for the transition in Syria at the State Department until September 2012.