An official website of the United States Government Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


  • Ambassador Van Schaack provides an overview of the justice and accountability issues being addressed at UNGA, including events on the role of technology in protecting civilians in conflict zones, efforts toward justice and accountability in Sudan, standing in solidarity with Uyghurs, and human rights violations in Syria. 


MODERATOR:  Okay.  So good morning and welcome to the New York Foreign Press Center.  My name is Doris Robinson, and I’m the briefing moderator.  Today’s briefing is on Justice Issues at UNGA, and our distinguished briefer is Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack.  Ambassador Van Schaack will start with opening remarks, and then we will open for questions.   

Thank you.   

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Thank you so much and good morning.  It’s really great to be here.  I appreciate the interest in justice and accountability issues here at UNGA.  It’s really a pleasure to be here at High-Level Week where, of course, the global leaders around the world are convening to address planetary crises and how we can better work together on the multilateral stage in order to improve the lives of people around the world.  And of course, a major theme involves trying to accelerate progress around these sustainable development goals.   

This week in New York, the United States is focused on advancing three broad policy goals.  First is the importance of partnership in tackling global challenges and achieving the Sustainable Developing Goals.  The second involves reinforcing the core collective obligations outlined in the UN Charter and the commitments that are contained within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  And then third involves strengthening multilateral institutions so they’re more effective, inclusive, transparent, accountable, and fit for purpose.  

In my role as ambassador-at-large for Global Criminal Justice, I work to advance these priorities in the international justice space.  And in terms of the Sustainable Development Goals, I really work and focus on Sustainable Development Goal number 16: peace, justice, and strong institutions.  This SDG aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, to enhance access to justice, and to build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.  

The UN Human Rights Council in Resolution 42/17 on human rights and transitional justice recognized that transitional justice can contribute to SDG 16 through its objectives of, quote, “combatting impunity, granting access to justice, and transforming conflict.”  Addressing legacies of human rights violations and abuses, and violations of the laws of war through transitional justice, we know now from empirical research, can contribute to a more durable peace.   

A lack of access to justice, by contrast, means that conflicts remain unresolved and survivors, their families, their communities cannot obtain judicial protection or legal redress.  Institutions that do not function according to the rule of law are prone to arbitrariness and abuse of power and are less capable ultimately of delivering justice.   

Many events this week have centered on situations around the world where there are important justices – justice processes underway or, alternatively, situations that cry out for justice.  In addition, we’ve also focused intently on the challenges and opportunities associated with artificial intelligence, machine learning, and new digital technologies, including within conflict scenarios, to advance – or, of course, the risks associated to – of undermining the SDGs.   

My work began here with an event organized by Microsoft and Truepic, exploring the role of digital technologies, including machine learning and supporting accountability.  Many justice mechanisms are increasingly relying upon open-source information, including user-generated information and social media posts.  The volume of data being generated and ingested has vastly outpaced the ability of justice actors within these mechanisms to verify, authenticate, and even to use this information at scale.   

As a result, technologists are working with – to teach machines to shift through all of this digital information and to identify the most actionable pieces of potential evidence.  At the same time, of course, we know that the possibility of malign actors creating and disseminating shallow fakes, deep fakes is emerging as a concern in the world’s justice institutions.  Mis- and dis-information have already featured prominently in international justice processes.  The private sector has the tools, people, and knowledge to provide solutions.  And so my office is looking for ways to create partnerships between the private sector, tech sector, and international accountability mechanisms to address these challenges together.   

On Tuesday, I had the honor of delivering opening remarks at a side event organized by the Atlantic Council, Human Rights Watch, and the Amnesty International on the need for a more robust international response to the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghurs and other ethno-religious minorities in Xinjiang in China.  I reflected on the August 2022 assessment by the then – the High Commissioner for Human Right Michelle Bachelet, who – which by the way, the current high commissioner stands by.  This assessment noted serious human rights violations have been committed in Xinjiang that may constitute international crimes, including crimes against humanity.  

The United States joins the high commissioners in calling for a comprehensive remedial action by PRC authorities.  This must include the immediate and unconditional release of all persons subject to arbitrary detention, an end to their intimidation and coercive efforts to silence human rights defenders and others around the world.  We also endorse the high commissioner’s calls for the business community to enhance its due-diligence and human rights assessments, particularly when it comes to forced labor – and recommendations for the international community to refrain from returning Uyghurs and other individuals subject to repression to the PRC if they have fled Xinjiang.  The United States itself has taken robust and concrete action in response to the atrocities in Xinjiang, beginning with calling them by their name: genocide and crimes against humanity.  While it remains a challenge to create pathways to justice for the PRC’s atrocities in Xinjiang, the high commissioner’s assessment offers a solid foundation for further action.  As these atrocities continue, the world must stand firm against them in both word and deed. 

Of course, here at UNGA, ensuring a lasting, just peace and accountability in the context of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine has been a central topic of conversation in multiple fora.  In addition, states and others are focused on first- and second-degree implications of Russia’s reckless behavior, such as on food security and nuclear security.  Accountability and justice for atrocities remains a top priority for the U.S. Government.   

This week, there was particular attention paid to the Russian – to Russia’s widespread operations to deport Ukraine’s children to Russia, a component of Secretary Blinken’s crimes against humanity determination.  Yesterday I had the privilege of attending an event with the office of the prosecutor general, Ukrainian civil society, the International Criminal Court, and the Conflict Observatory, which is being funded by the U.S. State Department, on the enormous challenge of identifying the location of these children and returning them to their families and their homeland after they have been deported to or detained within Russia.  Children have been instrumentalized by Russia in this terrible war.  Our work to reunify these families and to heal Ukrainian children who have been stripped from their homes and their communities will be a generational challenge for the years to come.   

Later today, I will participate in a public discussion around the situation in Syria and 12 years of suffering by the Syrian people for human rights abuses and other international crimes.  I’ll be joined by representatives of Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Qatar, and members of Syrian civil society.  In my remarks, I will highlight important tools and developments with respect to accountability for crimes committed within Syria.  This includes the exercise of national jurisdiction by courts around the world when they’re able to assert jurisdiction over senior members of the Assad regime and other perpetrators from the Syrian conflict.  The proceedings that Canada and the Netherlands have initiated against the Syrian state, alleging state responsibility for violations of the Convention Against Torture, for Syria’s industrial-grade torture system.   

And finally, the collection of crucial information and evidence by two international mechanisms: the International Impartial Independent Mechanism for Syria, and UNITAD, which is devoted to crimes committed by Daesh.  Both of these institutions have been critical in feeding information in and analysis into these accountability exercises in domestic and international courts.  In this regard, we welcome the renewal of UNITAD’s mandate last week at the Security Council.  UNITAD has over the years identified its utility in collecting and analyzing information about crimes committed by ISIS.  It has assisted Iraq in the exhumation of mass graves containing the remains of Yezidi victims.  It has trained justice actors, including a training held just last week with the Iraqi judiciary, and it is working to address the lack of codification of atrocity crimes, including war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity, in Iraqi domestic law, which has prevented, at this point, comprehensive accountability.   

Now, it is clear that UNITAD’s work is not done.  It will be important for us to work closely with the Government of Iraq and other stakeholders to ensure that UNITAD can effectively advance and finalize its mandate while protecting vulnerable witnesses and survivors.  We must, as an international community, be ready to continue the work of UNITAD beyond the upcoming year should the demand remain.   

Also later today, there’s an important event on the Rohingya crisis.  Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya will deliver remarks, joined by the governments of Bangladesh, Canada, the Gambia, Malaysia, Türkiye, and the UK as co-sponsors.  I will attend as well in solidarity with Rohingya victims and survivors, who, notwithstanding their precarious economic and security circumstances, continue to call for justice and accountability, and continue to have faith in the ability of the international community to deliver justice for the genocide and crimes against humanity they have experienced at the hands of the Burma military.   

The atrocities occurring in Darfur and other areas of Sudan are an ominous reminder of the horrific events that led to the United Sates in 2004 declaring this to be a genocide in Darfur.  Fighting and violence are getting worse, not only in Darfur but also we have seen reports of indiscriminate bombing, shelling, gender-based violence, harm to individuals in custody in Khartoum and in North and South Kordofan and other parts of the country.  Lack of justice and accountability for past abuses have clearly fueled the current cycles of violence.  And so we welcome the upcoming high-level side event to galvanize support for accountability in Sudan.  We’re pleased that this side event is being co-hosted by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who will speak personally about her recent visit to Chad, where she heard directly from survivors – men, women, children – who are fleeing violence in neighboring Darfur.   

Finally, conflict-related sexual violence is devastating to survivors, families, and their communities.  The trauma and stigma that survivors experience can exert a long-term negative cross-generational impact.  Reparations can serve as one important accountability tool.  The United States is proud to join the Global Survivors Fund and the United Nations community to explore innovative solutions to finance reparations during an UNGA side event called innovative solutions for financing conflict-related sexual violence reparations.  

So this is just a snapshot of the many conversations who are happening here at UNGA, and I’m now very happy to take your questions.  

MODERATOR:  Thank you  so much.  (Inaudible.)  Can you state your name and your — 


QUESTION:  Ambassador.  So in the Zelenskyy speech at the UN, this sense of impunity of Russia came out very strongly.  He mentioned the children kidnapped and he said the time is running by.  He also talked about the need for justice, but he didn’t get, for instance, in his plan into the justice – the aspect of justice.  Is this because things are pretty much stuck right now, in a way?  And you mentioned reparation.  I mean, seizing assets of Russia is very complicated.  Some people agree, some others – some governments don’t.  So what actually can be done within the UN for this purpose?  

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Yeah, thank you very much.  I think President Zelenskyy has been very clear in many public remarks that there can be no peace in Ukraine without justice.  It’s a central component of his vision for the resolution of this conflict, and it’s a central pillar of the United States approach to Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine.   

There are basically four pathways to justice that we see.  Many – some – many of these are underway already very actively and some are still on the drawing board.  So we see Ukrainian courts very active in prosecuting war crimes cases, including with respect to prisoners of war that have fallen within Ukrainian custody.  The Atrocities Crimes Advisory Group, which is a consortium of the EU, the UK, and the United States, is working to support the prosecutor general in their efforts in their own national system.  The United States is creating a multinational fund, and we are inviting other states to join us in this effort to promote complementarity in Ukrainian courts.  

Second, we have the International Criminal Court; it has already issued two arrest warrants against President Putin himself and Maria Lvova-Belova, who’s the children’s rights – I’m doing air quotes here – commissioner.  The basis for that is the deportation of Ukrainian children, and I anticipate that that investigation is ongoing and we may see further requests for arrest warrants in the future.   

The third pathway is still being built, and that is with respect to cases that might be brought in national courts around the world, including especially in Europe.  The Eurojust Genocide Network has linked together war crimes units across Europe who are now sharing information, strategies, et cetera, with an eye towards being prepared if and when Russian perpetrators travel to Europe.  We know they will do that.  In every conflict in human history, perpetrators have eventually left and have sought safe haven elsewhere or they want to go shopping somewhere.  Either way, the world’s prosecutors will be ready when those Russian perpetrators are on the move. 

The final pathway is the pathway that remains the subject of international negotiations, and this is with respect to prosecutions for the crime of aggression, which Ukraine very much and accurately sees as the sort of original crime that gave rise to all the other crimes we’re seeing: war crimes, crimes against humanity, et cetera.  That – the question presented is:  What is the modality by which the crime of aggression should be prosecuted?  Should it be an internationalized tribunal that’s embedded within the Ukrainian system with a lot of international assistance and elements?  This is the model that the United States is working to develop and that we favor.  There’s also talk about a tribunal that might be created through the General Assembly.  There’s two concerns with that model.  One is the legal one:  Does the General Assembly have the legal power under the UN Charter system to be able to create a standalone tribunal that would exercise coercive powers?  And there’s also quite a bit of concern about whether the votes exist in the General Assembly.   

This week, meetings are happening again in The Hague to continue to try and find common ground here and see if we can craft a model that is both legally sound and also practically able to be established and to start work immediately. 

My final point is that this – the investigations into the crime of aggression are not being delayed by these conversations.  The international community has set up an international center for the prosecution of aggression in The Hague.  Prosecutors have been relocated there to work together under the Eurojust umbrella to be able to start investigating which individuals within Russia were most responsible for planning and executing Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine.  The United States has sent a very seasoned prosecutor to join that effort.  And so the investigations are ongoing and now it’s a question of what will be the venue for actual prosecutions in the future.   

QUESTION:  Yeah.  You also mentioned Syria.  


QUESTION:  And Bashar al-Assad has been – is visiting Xi, and I wonder what U.S. – if the U.S. is worried about this aspect.  And also, talking about Syria in terms of justice, Anwar al-Bunni recently was in the U.S., and he’s advocating a special tribunal within the UN because, yes, he is a symbol of what can be done at a state level for justice, but he argues that the UN’s role would be invaluable also because he argues that although some people see Syria and Ukraine in competition for the world’s attention, he says that —  

QUESTION:  I’m sorry.   

QUESTION:  — everybody is looking at the fate of dictators, and if one is punished and can be punished, that really gives a message to all of them there is – there isn’t impunity.  But I feel that there are quite some obstacles for that from what you said also regarding the power of the General Assembly to do that.   

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Yes, indeed, there are some obstacles to that.  But I completely understand Anwar’s concerns about trying to build additional pathways to justice.  I already mentioned two of them; the International Court of Justice will be hearing the case under the Convention Against Torture, and then we have a number of cases that have moved forward against perpetrators in European courts and even courts elsewhere around the world.  We’ve had a couple of cases involving crimes committed in Syria – one against Samantha Elhassani, who was charged with material support for terrorism. 

But we saw in this case Russia’s continual action in blocking efforts around justice back in 2014.  You may remember there was a very strong resolution that would have referred the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.  Many states joined that referral resolution.  Russia, and China in tow, vetoed it.  And so that has now blocked the International Criminal Court from acting. 

There are a number of theories for why and how the International Criminal Court may be able to take cognizance of some aspects of the situation in Syria, but plenary jurisdiction is simply not available, because the only way to have plenary jurisdiction would be a referral from the ICC. 

One thing that I have seen that has been that has been incredibly heartening has been Syrian survivors and their communities working side by side with Ukrainian survivors and their families.  There’s something called the Syria Ukraine Network, that is a network – SUN, they’re calling it, which is a lovely acronym.  It’s a network of civil society actors, because of course Syrian victims and communities have felt the brunt of Russia’s assistance with the Assad regime in Syria, just as Ukrainian civilians are feeling the brunt of Russia’s actions in Ukraine in connection with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  And so building these cross-civil-society community and partnerships is incredibly important not only for solidarity, but also to sort of share ideas, to brainstorm, and to think about how they can work together to promote justice. 

QUESTION:  And about the visit with Xi? 

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Oh, indeed.  Yes.  There is – there’s a lot of concern about the rush to normalization when it comes to the Assad regime.  And it’s – there are many ways in which that normalization could be conditioned on seeing the Assad regime take concrete steps towards transitional justice, inviting and welcoming people back for a safe, dignified, and voluntary return to Syria, ensuring that they have access to their property, that their property hasn’t been taken from them by the state and given to loyalists of the Assad regime.   

Thinking about this new mechanism for missing persons that the General Assembly has created, that will create a database of individuals who are still presumed detained, missing, disappeared, hopefully still alive – but again, we may not know – to create a database in order to – for the families to have some sense of knowledge and/or closure of what has happened to their loved ones, should the Assad regime in a humanitarian gesture not participate actively in populating that database, acknowledging who it still has in its custody, and looking for ways to release those individuals if they’re being held purely on political grounds.   

And so there’s lots of things that could be asked of the Assad regime in exchange for welcoming them back into the League of Arab States, for example, or in other multilateral configurations.  And unfortunately, we’re not seeing that conditionality, and we would like to see further of that, because that’s the only way this conflict is going to be resolved and Syria is going to be able to move forward in a spirit of reconciliation, justice, and accountability. 


MODERATOR:  I will read a question that was submitted. 


MODERATOR:  “Can you provide a specific example of a recent situation where the U.S., in collaboration with the UN, has made significant progress in achieving justice and accountability?” 

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Yeah, thank you for the question.  It’s really a terrific question.  I think we’ve got a number of case studies that we can look at, but maybe I’ll focus on the situation in Burma with respect to the Rohingya.  So that is another situation where it’s very hard to imagine pathways to justice.  Of course, Myanmar – and none of the previous governments and the current military junta have shown no interest at all in either acknowledging the international crimes that have been committed, not just against Rohingya, but against civilians who are peaceably organizing and assembling for change in search of a democratic future for the country of Burma.  The government has just simply never acknowledged those abuses, no less worked to established any sort of pathways to justice.  So we’ve had to look outside of the country itself. 

Here, the United Nations responded quite robustly with the creation of a specialized mechanism.  We call it the Double-I Double-M, the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar.  And the role of the IIMM is to collect information from around the world on atrocity crimes being committed in Burma – not just with respect to the Rohingya, but also with respect to post-coup violence that has happened, attacks on peaceful protesters, et cetera. 

This information can be analyzed and aggregated at scale in order to produce really rich understandings of, for example, the chain of command – who made particular decisions to attack protesters, how the violence against the Rohingya unfolded back in 2017, how decisions were made, who was in charge, the order of battle.  All of this will then help support justice efforts that may be happening in other states and in international tribunals.   

So The Gambia, with the support of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, has stood up and accused Myanmar of committing genocide under the Convention Against Genocide before the International Court of Justice.  That case is ongoing now as we speak.  We applaud not only Gambia stepping forward to press its claims, but also the OIC’s willingness to support financially and politically The Gambia, which is in West Africa, stepping forward and saying all of – this matters to all of us when there’s a breach of the Genocide Convention.   

So that’s an example.  And we as the United States have supported the IIMM financially.  So we’ve given at this point two major grants: one to focus on witness protection issues, including with respect to insiders and defectors who are willing to turn state’s witness and provide testimony against their former confederates; and also a second grant with respect to open source investigations, because of course the IIMM has no direct physical access in Myanmar, but it is able to operate using remote investigative techniques, using online platforms, gathering open source information, speaking with refugees who have fled, speaking with insiders who have defected, and gathering all this information to support national prosecutions.   

I’ve been down to Argentina, where they have opened an investigation under their universal jurisdiction provisions of national law.  I’ve spoken with the prosecutors there to express the United States support for that effort.  We also helped to facilitate through one of our implementing partners the travel of seven Rohingya victims from Cox’s Bazar to Argentina to give live testimony before a judge so that it can form part of their investigation.  So I think that’s a very concrete example of how the United States, other individual states, and the United Nations can work together to promote justice even in the most intractable situations.   

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Did you have a question?   

QUESTION:  Good morning.  I’m sorry about coming late.  I was stuck.  

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  We’ve all been stuck.  

QUESTION:  Yeah.  

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  New York is a busy place over UNGA.  

QUESTION:  I’ll take up the question which was asked earlier about the Rohingyas.   


QUESTION:  Within the ASEAN community in Southeast Asia, there is considerable criticism of Myanmar – Burma, as you call it – on human rights violations, even on – even to the effect of committing genocide.  However, it’s – the group itself is not unified, because under their constitution, under their statutes, they’re not supposed to raise issues of a bilateral nature or of an internal nature.  However, there are certain countries which are openly dissenting, like Malaysia, for instance.  Do you see any avenues of cooperation on this with Malaysia?   

And if I may ask another question.  There was a – there was an uproar yesterday at the UNGA when the Ukrainian leader, Zelenskyy, spoke about genocide committed by Russia.  Russia is – Mr. Putin is wanted by under —  

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  International Criminal Court. 

MODERATOR:  Exactly.   


QUESTION:  So does it qualify still to maintain the permanent seat, one of the P5 member seats at the UNG – UNSC?  

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Yes, thank you.  So I’ll start with the Rohingya question.  There’s no question that ASEAN can play an incredibly important role here in bringing about a resolution of the conflict in Myanmar when it comes to bringing – encouraging the military government to de-escalate violence, to ultimately relinquish power to civilian authorities, and then to help chart a path forward for an inclusive Myanmar that includes all religious and ethnic groups.  We know that over the decades there has been violence against many, many ethnic minorities, including the Karen and others, and all of that needs to be resolved as part of a comprehensive plan moving forward for a democratic future.   

The Five-Point Consensus is an extremely strong place to start.  Unfortunately, we have not seen great progress on that consensus.  But that is an area where I think ASEAN as a group – because they have adopted that – can make some real progress. 

It’s also been heartening to see ASEAN being willing to not give Myanmar the benefits of or privileges of being in a leadership position, et cetera, in some of the meetings, recognizing that Myanmar is violating the very principles that ASEAN wants and should be standing for.  So there are some individual states, as you say, that have taken real leadership roles here and are more willing to push the Government of Myanmar to come to the table from the perspective of de-escalating the situation and returning the power to civilian rule, and I think that’s a very important role for ASEAN to be able to play, and we welcome the interventions by particular individual states who are willing to advance those – to advance those goals. 

When it comes to your question about Security Council membership, you may have seen that President Biden has advocated for broadening the membership of the Security Council in order to add more perspectives and, in some respects, to dilute the ability of Russia to utilize its veto against situations where it has its own self-interest at heart.   

And so I have lost count of the number of vetoes that were issued with respect to Syria, for example – everything from the referral of Syria to the ICC, which I mentioned in my opening remarks, but also investigations involving the use of chemical weapons in civilian areas, which is taboo under international law.  Nonetheless, we saw Syria violating that, and the most recent report of the OPCW investigative team noticed and brought attention to the fact that Russian actors were co-located with the entities that were deemed responsible for some of those chemical weapon attacks.  So Russia is deeply implicated in Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own people. 

The veto is a function of the UN Charter; it’s baked into the very genetic code of that charter.  And so there’s been a number of efforts to think about either veto reform or creating more – a more durable practice around states refraining from utilizing the veto in situations in which atrocities are underway.  And many states – and including the United States – have made certain pledges with respect to those efforts.  So the United States, for example, has pledged to explain why it’s using the veto, if it does ever exercise its veto in a situation involving atrocity crimes, so that it is able to stand behind its – whatever national security or national interests have motivated the use of the veto.  And we would encourage Russia to think twice before it uses its veto in many of these situations where we’re seeing atrocity crimes happening.  

QUESTION:  If I may just continue, there are two states which exercise the veto very heavily – one is Russia; the other one is China.  

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Mm-hmm.  And they often do so together.  

QUESTION:  Yes, in combination or even solo.  But this leads to an impasse.  It leads to a kind of a – you’re up against the wall.  How do you find a solution to that?  You have to reform the Security Council, especially the P5, which is an anachronism of World War II.  It’s no longer valid or relevant.   

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  The challenge, of course, is that to reform the veto would require amendments to the UN Charter.  And the very states that are misusing their veto would be required to consent to an amendment to the UN Charter.  But what we have seen instead is, in the face of debility within the Security Council because Russia or China is exercising its veto and preventing the council from exercising its executive powers that it has been given under the Charter in the post-World-War-II era, what we’ve seen instead is the General Assembly stepping up and flexing its muscles.   

So when the veto happened of the referral of the situation in Syria to the ICC, what we saw is the General Assembly stepping up and creating the so-called IIIM, this investigative mechanism that’s dedicated to investigating crimes being committed in Syria to support justice pathways elsewhere, including at the – with respect to the International Court of Justice under the Torture Convention, in national courts in Europe, and even in national courts – national cases in the United States.   

We had a case on behalf of the family of Marie Colvin that was brought in United States courts under the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act.  And the IIIM was able to support that effort and reached a judgment – the plaintiffs in that case reached a judgment of over $300 million against Syria under the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act, because Syria has been designated a State Sponsor of Terrorism.   

So where you have blockages at the Security Council, you see creativity happening elsewhere around the United Nations system.  And you have survivors, individual states, members of civil society working together hand in hand to push these issues using whatever venues we have within the UN system.  

QUESTION:  But the ICC is not an alternative to the Security Council.   


QUESTION:  You were implying that.   

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  No, no.  The ICC is part of a larger ecosystem of international justice.  Of course, it’s not a substitute.  It only has the ability to prosecute international crimes and to record individual criminal responsibility for those most responsible for international crimes.  The Security Council has a very different mandate.  It’s meant to be the body focused on promoting and advancing international peace and security within the UN system.   

Thank you very much for being here.   

QUESTION:  Thank you.   

MODERATOR:  We are just about out of — 

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  It’s a real pleasure to chat with you.  Yes.  

MODERATOR:  And I will give it back to you for any closing remarks.   

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Well, just it’s an exciting week.  It’s a busy week.  The Sustainable Development Goals are, of course, critical to solving some of the planetary crises, including around food insecurity, climate issues, et cetera, conflict around the world.  SDG 16 is my favorite, because I’m a justice advocate and I work in the office of Global Criminal Justice, and so we are constantly looking for ways to strengthen justice institutions around the world, to ensure access to justice for victims and survivors, and to ensure that the United States plays a constructive role in this place, using all tools available to us – legal tools, financial tools, diplomatic tools.  That’s my mandate in the State Department, and I look forward to working with partners around the world who share these ideals and objectives.  

Thank you.  

MODERATOR:  Thank you, Ambassador.   


MODERATOR:  That concludes today’s briefing.  

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future