On April 3, 2018, a protocol of cooperation was signed by the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) and 28 Syrian civil society organisations focusing on human rights, violations documentation and transitional justice. The protocol was finalised after several meetings and large consultations by Syrian civil society organisations to come to an agreement with the IIIM on underlying principles.
The purpose of the protocol is to outline a set of overarching principles to guide the engagement between the IIIM and the signatory Syrian NGOs, and to ensure mutual understanding regarding opportunities for collaboration, for fulfilling common goal of ensuring justice, accountability, and redress for victims of war crimes committed in Syria. This protocol is intended to set out a general consensus between the parties that enables collaborative engagement, rather than addressing operational details or working procedures.
The Executive Director of the Violations Documentation Center (VDC), Husam Alkatlaby, stated, “Signing this protocol forms a cornerstone of the IIIM reaching the purpose of its establishment; it also allows it to access important documents as well as data collected and organized by Syrian organisations with great effort since 2011. It allows the Syrian organisations to regulate their relationship with the IIIM within a formal structure and to establish similar organisation with other United Nations bodies and committees concerning their work on Syria.”
The IIIM is committed to engaging in an ongoing dialogue with Syrian civil society organisations, as well as discussing modalities for collaboration and pro-active cooperation, and securing their commitment to providing the IIIM with relevant information and documentation in their possession.
The Syrian NGOs that are signatory to this protocol commit to cooperating fully with the IIIM, which includes responding to its requests and keeping it updated on relevant activities and projects, such as the filing of cases related to crimes committed in Syria in national courts.
“Signatories to this protocol included the widest possible group of organisations that participated in relevant discussions and previous meetings that developed this project. This protocol will be open for other Syrian organisations to join at any time thereafter,” Alkatlaby added.
The parties understand that the IIIM, in line with its mandate, must retain its independence and impartiality as well as the appearance of the same. As a consequence, the parties recognise the limits inherent in the IIM’s mandate regarding collaboration with various stakeholders, including Syrian NGOs. In particular, while the IIIM is committed to regular consultation and hearing the views of Syrian civil society organisations, it cannot take direction from any external actor regarding its strategy, selection of cases, preparation of files or any other aspect of its work.