A cross-party coalition of MEPs today joined an initiative by Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66) calling on EU foreign policy-chief Catherine Ashton to ensure that all EU Member States will join a Swiss-initiated global effort that seeks the referral by the UN Security Counsel of the violence in Syria to the International Criminal Court. Schaake: "The EU cannot wait for changes to happen. A formal investigation by the ICC, possibly followed by indictments for war crimes and crimes against humanity, can potentially break the final support for the Assad Regime, both withinSyria and internationally." Next Monday, also Human Rights Day and the day on which the EU will receive the Nobel Peace Prize, the EU Foreign Affairs Council convenes. Maximum pressure The MEPs seek to keep up maximum pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime and urge Catherine Ashton to personally take the lead in a new effort to mandate the ICC. "We consider the office of the HR/VP the responsible focal point to lead this European effort and urge you to personally engage in building a large and inclusive international coalition to impel all permanent members of the UNSC to support such a referral. The EU should work relentlessly to hold those responsible accountable and to fight impunity", the MEPs wrote in a letter sent today. Russian support Syrian opposition members and EU diplomats signal thatRussiawill not necessarily block the effort in the UNSC. Schaake: "Referring the violence inSyriato the ICC is the most objective signal the UNSC can give; it increases the pressure on Assad while also sending a warning to the opposition, to abide by international law standards and that impunity does not exist. Human rights groups say that since the start of the violence over 40.000 deaths have been documented. The use of military force and mass violence against the civilian population likely constitute to war crimes or crimes against humanity.