The United Nations envoy for education today called for an immediate investigation by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) into what he called a war crime in Syria – the latest attacks on a school compound in the western province of Idlib that left at least 20 pupils and teachers dead.

“I am calling on the Security Council to immediately agree that the International Criminal Court Prosecutor conduct an investigation into what I believe is a war crime – with the intention that, if proven, the perpetrators will be hunted down and the case against them prosecuted before the [Court],” the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, told a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York, where he also announced that the Education Cannot Wait fund is allocating $15 million to children’s education inside Syria.


“The Security Council should meet now,” he said, explaining that the 15-member body faces a chance to unanimously act on Syria because Russia, which vetoed a resolution to refer atrocities in Syria to the ICC in 2014, has expressed support for a probe into the attacks in Idlib.


Mr. Brown quoted the Russian Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, as saying that ‘we demand all international organizations join the investigation without further delay […] we urge maximum attention to this tragedy and its investigation without delay.’


“Now that Russia, for the first time, has urged such ‘an immediate investigation,’ the Security Council should ask the [ICC] Prosecutor for an investigation into what is happening in Syrian schools and in Syria as a whole,” Mr. Brown said. “Or if they cannot accept this, they should conduct their own investigation as a Security Council as they are entitled to do, and have done so previously in other cases.”