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Human Rights Council holds interactive dialogue with Commission of Inquiry on Syria

MORNING

18 March 2014

The Human Rights Council this morning held an interactive dialogue with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria.

Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Chairperson of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said that the harrowing violence in Syria had entered its fourth year and showed no signs of subsiding. The lives of 100,000 people had been extinguished and the battlefield had taken on new layers of complexity. It was imperative for the parties, influential States and the international community to work to ensure the protection of civilians and safe humanitarian access. Compassion did not and should not suffice.

Speaking as the concerned country, Syria said that the Commission of Inquiry today continued to ignore its advice and that given by many international parties to show impartiality and integrity and to reflect the truth and be objective in its reports. The Commission continued to ignore the role played by regional and international parties that supported the jihadist and takfiri groups, and had ignored the negative effects of the unilateral, unlawful economic sanctions imposed on the Syrian people. As usual, the Commission had shown bias.

In the discussion that followed, speakers expressed appreciation for the Commission’s update and were appalled by the systematic violations and war crimes committed by Government forces and militias, as well as by violations committed by non-state groups. Civilians continued to suffer heavily on a daily basis in the fourth year of the Syrian conflict and there was dismay about the Commission’s findings, particularly about the practice of starvation of whole neighbourhoods and the use of siege as a weapon of war which ran counter to international humanitarian law. Particular concern was voiced about the plight of children in Syria, a most vulnerable group, against whom grave violations continued to be committed by both Government forces and militias and non-state armed groups.

Some speakers noted that information and evidence available remained fragmented and imprecise, and that the report of the Commission reproduced previous biases which had clear political motivations and its overall content overly emphasized the Government forces, omitting the activities of non-government fighters and their violations of human rights. Violations committed by all parties were condemned. Human rights issues must be resolved by dialogue and any attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of any State under the pretext of human rights was a direct violation of their independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. One speaker called for an end of the international media campaign that had demonized the authorities in Syria. Dialogue was the only way to put an end to the violence.

Speaking in the discussion were European Union, Austria, Qatar, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Czech Republic, Argentina, Estonia, Tunisia, Cuba, Ecuador, Turkey, Thailand, Chile, Egypt, Japan, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, Sierra Leone, France, Paraguay, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Venezuela, Brazil, Ireland, United States, Iraq, Russia, Belarus, Slovakia, Belgium, Uruguay, Germany, Bahrain, China, Australia, Netherlands, Portugal, Kuwait, Costa Rica, United Kingdom, Romania, Italy, Maldives, Mexico, United Nations Children’s Fund, Botswana, Canada, Switzerland, Iran, Poland, Malaysia, Luxembourg, Denmark on behalf of Nordic Countries, Libya, and Jordan.

Press Emblem Campaign, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Syriac Universal Alliance, International Commission of Jurists, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, and Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development also took the floor.

The Human Rights Council during its noon meeting will hold a general debate on human rights situations requiring the Council’s attention. Later this afternoon, the Council will hold an interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on minority issues.

Documentation

The Council has before it an updated report on the work of the Commission of Inquiry on the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic (A/HRC/25/65).

Presentation by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria

PAULO SERGIO PINHEIRO, Chairperson of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said that the harrowing violence in Syria had entered its fourth year and showed no signs of subsiding. The lives of 100,000 people had been extinguished; civilians in besieged areas were reduced to scavenging, their lives had become precarious; and people, including children, had starved to death. Nearly nine million people – a third of the population of Syria - had fled their homes and millions more lived in enclaves surrounded by violence. The battlefield had taken on new layers of complexity: the Government continued to rely on its superior firepower and had benefitted from the intervention of foreign fighters; there were now hundreds of non-State armed groups and foreign fighters had streamed into Syria, often joining more extremist battalions and imposing their radical ideologies, such as ISIS operating in Aleppo and Al-Raqqah governorates. Tensions over political control, resources and ideological orientations remained and in January 2014 had erupted into deadly violence. Civilians were repeatedly victims of acts of terror. Save for the valiant efforts of humanitarian agencies and countries providing asylum to the two and a half million refugees, the international community had done little but bear witness to the plight of those caught in the maelstrom. It was imperative for the parties, influential States and the international community to work to ensure the protection of civilians and safe humanitarian access.

Among the victims of the war, the need for accountability was deeply-rooted in the desire for peace. The reports of the Commission, its thematic papers and updates were an authoritative record of incidents documented throughout the unrest and armed conflict. It was this volume of testimony that would be an enduring legacy of the Commission: an archive of Syrian voices and a resource for future prosecutions. The Commission had established a list of individuals and entities responsible for violations and crimes documented throughout the reports. Mr. Pinheiro stressed that there was no lack of information about crimes or perpetrators; what was lacking was the means by which justice and accountability were achieved. It was for the United Nations Security Council to make the pursuit of justice possible in line with its resolution 2139. It was incumbent on all Member States to carve out a path of peace and a part of this responsibility was to adhere to the obligation not to transfer weapons which would be used in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity. No one could claim ignorance of what was occurring in Syria and those that believed in a military solution – or to the proxy wars being fought inside the country – were compromising the prospect of a political solution. Compassion did not and should not suffice; a negotiated political solution must be pursued with renewed vigour both by the parties and by influential States and the regional and international community must take clear steps to revitalize the Geneva negotiations.

Statement by the Concerned Country

Syria, speaking as the concerned country, said that the Commission of Inquiry today continued to ignore its advice and that given by many international parties to show impartiality and integrity and to reflect the truth and be objective in its reports. The Commission relied on manipulative testimonies by persons wanted by the law and media reports that were hostile to the Syrian people. These testimonies were greatly questionable. The Commission continued to ignore the role played by regional and international parties that supported the jihadist and takfiri groups. Syria wondered why the Commission failed to reply to these sponsors in the report. The Commission had ignored the negative effects of the unilateral, unlawful economic sanctions imposed on the Syrian people. As usual, the Commission had shown bias. The recommendation made by the Commission to refer the Syrian case to international courts was a politicized and unlawful step as there were national judicial mechanisms available in Syria. Syria was committed to meeting 80 per cent of the needs of its people in spite of the unjust unilateral sanctions and the obstacles set up by armed terrorist groups. Syria called upon the Commission of Inquiry to declare squarely that it was unable to continue to perform its functions and it should step down. External parties that took part in the bloodshed of Syrians should stop supporting terrorism and interfering in the internal affairs of Syria and other States.

Interactive Dialogue with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria

European Union said that civilians continued to suffer heavily on a daily basis in the fourth year of the Syrian conflict and strongly condemned the Government’s use of starvation as a weapon of war. All violence must stop to allow urgent humanitarian assistance on the ground. There should be no impunity for perpetrators and the regime must ensure the protection of civilians. Only a political solution could end the bloodshed and Syria must agree to the establishment of a transitional authority. Austria was dismayed about the Commission’s findings, particularly about the practice of starvation of whole neighbourhoods. More than one million children had lived in conflict for over three years and consequences of this would be long-lasting. All parties must ask themselves whether prolonging the conflict served the interests of their children. The gravity of the offences committed and the unwillingness of the Syrian authorities warranted the referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court.

Qatar said that the sectarian violence and conflict in Syria was now a threat to peace and security in the region. The Syrian regime was saying that it was combating terrorism but this was in fact reducing the revolution by the people. Three years after the beginning of the revolution, the international community must shoulder its responsibility, support peace negotiations and ensure accountability for violations. Morocco condemned the violations described in the report, particularly the use of siege as a weapon of war which was a violation of international humanitarian law. The conflict was in a deadlock and this was deadly for civilians. All parties must be committed to find a constructive solution.

Saudi Arabia said that with the Commission’s report, everyone now knew the scope of destruction in Syria and the crimes that affected its entire people. A peaceful way out of this conflict must be found and the provisions of the Geneva I and Geneva II talks, as well as United Nations Security Council resolutions, must be implemented. Algeria was greatly concerned about continuing acts of violence and violations occurring in Syria and said that the peace talks in Geneva were an opportunity at peace that the parties to the conflict must seize. It was important to stop the use of illegal weapons and to ensure the protection of civilians and that their humanitarian needs were met.

Czech Republic expressed appreciation for the Commission’s update and was appalled by the systematic violations and war crimes committed by government forces and militias, as well as by violations committed by non-state groups. Children made up a large proportion of the civilian casualties of the conflict and the Czech Republic urged Syria to stop using sieges and starvation of civilians as a method of warfare and blocking humanitarian access. The Czech Republic reiterated calls to the Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court. Argentina was very concerned by the conflict situation, in particular since its scope and intensity seemed to be increasing, and called on Syria to comply with its commitments to respect and protect the rights of the Syrian people, condemning violations committed by all parties. All perpetrators must be held accountable and humanitarian access should be provided.

Estonia regretted that the Commission had been continuously denied access to Syria, as it was important to verify and investigate all allegations of serious violations so that those responsible were brought to justice. Estonia welcomed the adoption of the Security Council resolution on humanitarian access and called for its swift and comprehensive implementation. Tunisia encouraged the Commission to continue its efforts and called on all relevant parties to provide them with access in Syria. Tunisia strongly condemned all violations and abuses regardless of their origins and supported efforts aimed at sparing the Syrian people through a negotiated settlement that would preserve their sovereignty and territorial integrity, and expressed appreciation for the efforts of neighbouring countries to deal with the refugee crisis.

Cuba said it had been closely following the situation in Syria and noted that information and evidence available remained fragmented and imprecise. Cuba rejected the attribution in a selective and manipulative manner of casualties to one of the parties to the conflict, which only promoted foreign intervention and adventurism. An aggression against Syria would only have grave consequences for the region and would constitute a violation to the United Nations Charter and international law. Ecuador noted that the report of the Commission reproduced previous biases which had clear political motivations and its overall content overly emphasised the government forces, omitting the activities of non-government fighters and their violations of human rights. A firm dialogue could put an end to the conflict despite the complexity of the situation and all parties should not give up on diplomatic channels.

Turkey said it was deeply saddened and reiterated that the violence in Syria only kept escalating. New elements adding to the nightmare continued to appear and multiply. The sole responsible party for this humanitarian tragedy was the Syrian regime, which had lost its legitimacy long ago. It engaged in unacceptable acts against its own people, including the use of chemical weapons, and civilians were exposed to air bombardment. Egypt said it was following with great concern the continued deterioration of the situation in Syria and the negative effects it had on the security and independence of the country. Egypt condemned the use of violence against civilians and its use by the various parties. This made it now necessary to determine those responsible and hold them accountable. The necessity of supporting a peaceful settlement connected to Geneva II was underlined.

Japan found it regrettable that the Syrian Government had not sincerely cooperated with the investigation of the Commission of Inquiry. It strongly condemned the indiscriminate attacks against civilians that had continued over a long period of time and resulted in tremendous suffering to civilians. Japan urged all parties to the conflict to build trust through practical arrangements on the ground, including local ceasefires, and to continue dialogue to find a political solution to the conflict. Thailand noted that the investigations of the Commission of Inquiry remained curtailed by the denial of access to the country. Thailand condemned the violence by all parties, particularly against civilians. It was disturbed by the restrictions imposed on the distribution of and access to humanitarian aid. Thailand joined the call for all parties to allow humanitarian access. Attention should be paid both to the humanitarian situation in Syria and in neighbouring countries.

Chile strongly condemned the brutal conflict and reaffirmed the urgent need to stop the various forms of violence that went beyond the minimum standards of dignity. Abuses and violations of human rights were being perpetrated by all sides to the conflict. To date there were hundreds of thousands of people dead and displaced. How much more suffering would have to be lamented? It must not be forgotten that victims were the main concern of this Council. New Zealand registered its deep concern and condemnation of the continuing widespread violence in Syria. It had repeatedly called on all sides to the conflict to respect human rights and immediately cease all violence against civilians. New Zealand supported the Syrian people in their quest for a political solution to the crisis. It was aware of the growing number of refugees as a result of the conflict. The description of attacks by the Government on medical facilities was of great concern.

United Arab Emirates noted the deterioration in the human rights and humanitarian situation in Syria and the use of sieges and starvation as a means of war in direct violation of international humanitarian law. The United Arab Emirates appealed for an increase in humanitarian assistance to the refugees in neighbouring countries and the civilians in Syria. Sierra Leone said that the whole plethora of human rights violations was rampant and the situation in the country was deteriorating before the eyes of the international community. How could all this happen in this day and age and when would the people of Syria be regarded as human beings? The political dialogue must be intensified to ensure that the solution to this conflict was reached without delay; those responsible for violations should be brought to justice.

France said that it was mainly the regime that was responsible for the violations in Syria and noted that the Commission was the first to point to the use, by the regime, of sieges and famine, enforced disappearances and acts of torture. The situation in Syria must be referred to the International Criminal Court and the Commission of Inquiry must continue its work to document the crimes. Paraguay said that the parties to the conflict depended on financing and reminded that those providing such financing had a responsibility under international law. All parties to the conflict must respect international humanitarian law.

Democratic People's Republic of Korea said that human rights issues must be resolved by dialogue and that any attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of any State under the pretext of human rights was a direct violation of their independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Venezuela categorically rejected any interference in the internal affairs of States and called for an end of the international media campaign that had demonized the authorities in Syria. Dialogue was the only way to put an end to the violence.

Brazil regretted that once again the report documented a human tragedy with dangerous spill over effects on the region. Attempts to politicise the delivery of humanitarian assistance should be rejected. As highlighted by the Commission, Brazil expressed concern about the impact of unilateral sanctions on the lives of the common people. Ireland said that the human rights situation in Syria was dire to the extreme, as well as the humanitarian and security situations. The list of violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law contained in the Commission’s reports was a long one. Pending a comprehensive solution, Ireland inquired if local ceasefires with humanitarian access would be sustainable?

United States said it was deeply concerned about the 250,000 Syrians trapped in besieged areas without access to food, water, or medicine, and strongly condemned Syria’s starvation until submission campaign, calling for the immediate and full implementation of Security Council resolution 2139. Syrians continued to bravely protest violations and abuses committed by the regime and armed groups, and the United States supported these efforts. Iraq said it had always promoted a peaceful solution to conflict situations and highlighted the difficult situation for Syrian refugees, who were waiting for a peaceful solution in order to return to their country and live in dignity. Iraq had participated in and contributed to the donors conference in Kuwait, and was doing everything possible to bring humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people.

Russia said that it had become clear that armed groups had been joined by foreign mercenaries and reminded States of their international commitments not to finance terrorism. The report documented striking violations and left no doubt to the fact that these groups often presented as pro-democratic opposition groups were really engaging in human rights violations. The Commission had not paid attention to the consequences of unilateral sanctions. Belarus reaffirmed its principled position that country-specific mandates should not be created without the support of the concerned country. The activities of the Commission would hardly promote a respectful dialogue or lead to a positive change in the situation. Slovakia regretted that the Commission continued to be denied access to Syria in order to fulfil its mandate. The situation of vulnerable groups was particularly alarming and those responsible for violations, including those entailing crimes against humanity and war crimes, should be held accountable. In the Commission’s view, how could the Council’s Special Procedures help relieve the suffering of the most vulnerable groups?

Bahrain said the international community was standing before a historical and ethical responsibility. What was happening in Syria was a huge challenge for the human conscience. It was not possible to remain silent in front of the massacres being committed and Bahrain would spare no effort to support any international effort to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people. The human tragedy had reached a frightful level and Bahrain stood beside all efforts to assist the Syrian people in attaining their aspirations. Belgium said the Commission’s findings demonstrated the immense suffering of the Syrian people who continued to be the victims of horrendous human rights and international humanitarian law violations by warring parties that did not fear being held accountable for their acts. Belgium remained particularly concerned about the plight of children in Syria, a most vulnerable group, against whom grave violations continued to be committed by both Government forces and militias and non-state armed groups.

Uruguay said that the report was a valuable report of human rights violations committed by all parties in Syria. The perpetrators behind these violations had to be made accountable before the justice system and maybe one day the International Criminal Court. The only way out of this situation was through political dialogue. The use of chemical weapons was utterly prohibited by international humanitarian law. All parties were urged to strictly respect international humanitarian law standards. Germany called upon the Syrian Government and all parties to the conflict to comply with their obligations under international law and to immediately stop all forms of siege warfare. Syrian army units and allied militias on one side and armed groups on the other were intentionally depriving a quarter of a million children, women and men of medicine and humanitarian supplies. This was not only a gross international crime, it was an outrage to the conscience of mankind and this had to stop.

Australia said that the Syrian regime was paying little heed to its obligations to protect civilians. Australia was deeply concerned that the conflict had taken on a sectarian dimension and was appalled by the systematic use of rape, sexual torture and sexual violence by regime forces and pro-government militia which constituted crimes against humanity. The perpetrators of serious international crimes in Syria had to be held to account. China said that in the past three years a continued escalation of the conflict in Syria had been seen, which was of grave concern. A political solution was the only way to resolve the situation, and this was the consensus of the international community. All parties were called upon to give priority to their country’s destiny and seek a political solution as their main objective. They had to meet each other half way through dialogue, consultation, and a gradual building of confidence.

Netherlands strongly condemned the use of starvation as a weapon of warfare and the use of barrel bombs in densely populated areas by the regime, and the gender based and sexual violence, and sectarian motivated violence. The Netherlands called for swift implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 2139 and the lifting of the sieges, ensuring humanitarian access and agreeing on a ceasefire. Portugal said that the report contained massive evidence about the responsibility of Government forces for the violations and said that those responsible must be held to account.

Kuwait noted with great sadness the report of the Commission of Inquiry and strongly condemned the continuing grave and systematic human rights violations committed by the Syrian authorities against the Syrian people. Kuwait called on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities and on the donor community to fulfil their pledges in view of the escalating humanitarian disaster. Costa Rica appealed to various international actors to find a solution for the Syrian crisis and said it was time for those responsible in the United Nations for international peace and security to put aside their differences. Costa Rica would never stop to demand peace and justice for victims of violations.

United Kingdom said it was vital that the Commission continued to collect evidence of violations and abuses of human rights to ensure that those responsible were held to account. The level of sexual violence committed against women, men and children, particularly in the regime’s detention centres, was appalling. The Commission’s report differentiated between extremist groups and other armed opposition groups who were calling for a pluralist and democratic Syria, and the United Kingdom said it would continue to support the pursuit of that aim. Romania called on all parties to the conflict to allow humanitarian access and was concerned about thousands of people trapped in besieged towns. All parties must take steps to ensure a political solution to the conflict and establish transitional authority.

Italy said that the proportions of the humanitarian crisis fuelled by the ongoing conflict in Syria were appalling, and humanitarian aid in the whole of Syria should be promptly granted. Italy remained actively engaged in supporting countries in the region. There was no alternative to a political solution to the crisis based upon the implementation of the 2012 communique that ensured the unity, integrity and sovereignty of Syria. Maldives remained fully concerned about the increase in unlawful killings, hostage taking, enforced disappearances, torture, sexual violence, and atrocities committed as part of wide and systematic attacks against civilians. All parties involved in the conflict had failed to comply with international humanitarian law and Maldives reiterated the call to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court. Maldives welcomed the recommendations of the Commission and called on Syria to grant access to its members.

Mexico recognised that despite difficulties the Commission had allowed the Council and other United Nations bodies to address the situation in Syria, within its mandate, and to promote a peaceful solution without forgetting the situation of victims. Mexico had underscored the need to stop the armed violence and to establish a real dialogue in order to achieve a transition towards a pluralistic regime. Clear measures had to be established in conditions of security and stability. UNICEF welcomed the report and its attention to the impact that the conflict had had on children. The number of children affected by the crisis had more than doubled, the number of children displaced had tripled and over 10,000 children had lost their lives. The horrifying statistics barely reflected the suffering that the children had endured. The international community was failing a generation of children.

Botswana said that the updates continued to reveal a worsening human rights and humanitarian tragedy taking place before the eyes of the international community. For the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, Syria had become the world’s leading country of forced displacement. Humanitarian workers and human rights defenders continued to be targeted and it was alarming to note that the Government was targeting sick and wounded persons. Canada reiterated in the strongest terms that these acts must end and perpetrators must be held accountable, noting that the Assad regime bore disproportionate responsibility. Canada called on all parties to respect international law and to ensure access for humanitarian workers. Canada would continue to support the humanitarian response and called for a politically negotiated settlement leading to a Syrian-led transition and an end to the bloodshed.

Switzerland said that the spiral of violence in Syria must be brought to an end and that the international community and States who had influence in the conflict must support the Geneva talks and restrict the delivery of weapons to combatants. The fight against impunity was a prerequisite of a lasting peace and it was essential that parties to the conflict protected civilians and ensured humanitarian access. Iran noted the growing concern that the operations of terrorist armed groups in Syria would pose further threat and danger to regional security and stability, and said that the worsening humanitarian situation was due to extreme violence committed by the terrorist groups in certain areas of the country.

Poland condemned in the strongest terms human rights violations, including torture and sexual violence which occurred on a daily basis, and said that all parties to the conflict had failed to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law. War crimes and crimes against humanity remained unpunished and they must be put before the international system of justice. Malaysia said that the future of Syria and particularly its children was uncertain and this tragedy was originating from non-respect of the rights of the people. Syria had become an international security issue but there was no denying that it had human rights causes and could be resolved only by the Syrian people irrespective of the gains on the battleground.

Denmark, speaking on behalf of Nordic Countries, strongly condemned the gross human rights abuses, war crimes and crimes against humanity taking place in Syria, and highlighted the disproportionate suffering of women and children. Unless efforts were increased to provide protection, housing and education to children, Syria might lose an entire generation. A clear signal had to be sent that atrocities committed by all sides were inacceptable. Luxembourg welcomed the high quality of the report of the Commission of Inquiry. It insisted on the need to officially refer the tragic situation of Syria to the International Criminal Court and welcomed the unanimous adoption of Security Council resolution 2139 calling on all parties involved to ensure and facilitate humanitarian access. What approach should be used when tackling extremist elements?

Libya was extremely concerned because of the continued deterioration of the human rights situation in Syria and the continued forced displacement. It was necessary for all parties to the conflict to adhere to the recommendations of the Commission and to enable the people of Syria to obtain humanitarian assistance to alleviate their suffering. It was necessary to put an end to the fighting and reach an urgent political solution in line with the aspirations of the Syrian people. Jordan was extremely concerned by the deteriorating situation in Syria with ramifications that had now gone beyond its borders, threatening national and regional stability. It was necessary to put an immediate end to the violence in Syria and reach an urgent political solution. Jordan was shouldering the greatest burden of the humanitarian crisis in Syria, with regards to refugees. It would continue to provide all kinds of assistance to refugees, despite its limited resources.

Press Emblem Campaign said Syria was the deadliest country for media workers in 2013, and as of today, since the closing of the last session of the Council, the Press Emblem Campaign counted five more media workers killed in the country. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies said that three years after the eruption of the peaceful protest movement, Syria had become the theatre of the gravest possible patterns of human rights violations. A deep rooted culture of impunity remained a major factor that fuelled the conflict in Syria.

Syriac Universal Alliance said they spoke on behalf of the indigenous Aramean (Syriac) people of Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon and that the lives of those stateless Semitic people in their homeland was becoming gloomier every day. The Alliance asked the Commission of Inquiry why, despite the evidence it had provided to it, the report was silent on the plight of vulnerable minorities, such as Syria’s defenceless Christians who were being driven out of their homeland. International Commission of Jurists called on the Council to ask the Security Council to take effective measures to protect the civilian population of Syria and bring an end to the conflict, and to address the pervasive culture of impunity by requesting the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, speaking in a joint statement, said since the Syrian crisis began three years ago, activists, including human rights defenders and media and humanitarian workers, had continually been arrested or abducted by Government forces, pro-Government militias or non-State armed groups. International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists said the involvement of foreign actors in the conflict had not been properly addressed, although it was well known that certain States and non-State organizations were providing heavy support to both parties in the conflict, including Hezbollah, a recognized terrorist organization that was heavily involved in the fighting on the side of the Syrian regime, and the State of Iran.

Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development said the Syrian men, women and children who had fled from persecution, war and violence continued to encounter huge difficulties in finding asylum, particularly in European countries. Restrictions on free movement denied the right of those individuals to reach asylum and should be removed. The response of the international community to the plight of Syrian refugees remained inadequate, it must act and it must act now.

Concluding Remarks

PAULO PINHEIRO, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, in concluding remarks, responded to some of the questions raised during the debate. Concerning methodology, he said that the report was based on interviews and investigations carried out by the Commission and not from public sources or the media. Since October 2012, the Commission had had no contact with the Syrian delegation. The Commission was continuing to investigate allegations of torture and information collected suggested that widespread and systematic torture continued to be prevalent in the conflict. Aid had to be delivered across the Syrian borders in order to reach those in need. The report also provided the groundwork for future criminal prosecution to address the violations documented. In order to support the Commission’s mandate, States should raise issues of accountability in all United Nations bodies, in particular in the General Assembly and the Security Council. Mr. Pinheiro stressed that the Commissioners did not take sides in the investigation but worked on the best interest of victims, who should be the main objects of concern of this Council, and the peaceful resolution of the conflict. The Commission continued to repeat that there was no military solution to the conflict, military victory was an illusion, and therefore it was important to continue to support the Geneva process.
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