Carla del Ponte © Denis Balibouse / Reuters
Carla del Ponte, a leading UN investigator of the Syrian conflict, has announced she’s quitting her job because backing from the UN Security Council has been lacking. “We have no power as long as the UNSC does nothing,” she said.
The announcement was delivered at news conference on the banks of Switzerland’s Lake Maggiore, where del Ponte had already prepared her letter of resignation.
“I am quitting this commission, which is not backed by any political will,” she said, as reported by the Swiss news agency SDA.
“I have no power as long as the Security Council does nothing,” she charged.
“We are powerless, there is no justice for Syria.”
Del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney general who’d previously prosecuted war crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, joined the UN’s inquiry into the war in Syria in 2012, investigating alleged chemical gas attacks and atrocities committed by the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
She had been very vocal and sometime stirred controversy. In a 2013 statement, she said there were “strong, concrete suspicions” that Syrian rebels had used sarin gas. Not one to take sides, she also called the Syrian president, Bashar Assad, “one of the worst criminals” in an interview with a Swiss TV channel earlier this year.
In March, del Ponte expressed her frustration with the inability of the UN to get things done.
“What we have seen here in Syria, I never saw that in Rwanda, or in former Yugoslavia, in the Balkans. It is really a big tragedy,” she said, as reported by Reuters.
“Unfortunately we have no tribunal.”
Two panelists remain, Brazilian human rights expert Paulo Sergio Pinheiro and American diplomat Karen Koning AbuZayd, while the UN attempts to set up a new body to deal with Syria.