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

Human Rights Council
MORNING

15 March 2016

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

At the beginning of the meeting, Choi Kyonglim, President of the Human Rights Council, said that on this day exactly 10 years ago, the General Assembly had adopted resolution 60/251 establishing the Human Rights Council.  Since then, the Council had played a pivotal role for the promotion and protection of human rights for all. 

Mr. Pinheiro said that five long years had passed since the war in Syria started, with the toll of victims going far beyond anything imagined.  There were more than five million Syrian refugees, and hundreds of thousands of children who belonged to a “lost generation”.   All parties must allow for the sustained and unhindered humanitarian aid to besieged areas.  Serious violations continued to take place, as thousands were detained and tortured, while countless people were still missing.  ISIS continued to use suicide bombs on civilian areas, as well as horrifying sexual enslavement of Yazidi women and girls.  The ongoing political dialogue must encompass a discussion on transitional justice options.  The Commission strongly supported credible proceedings to fight impunity. 

Syria, speaking as the concerned country, said the reports of the Commission had a biased and secretive approach and gave political cover to terrorism, calling it “armed opposition”.  Further, the Commission had ignored terrorists supported by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.  The Government had abided by the cessation of hostilities, and would protect its civilians against terrorism by foreign countries.  Instead of addressing political accusations to the Government, Syria called for the assigning of real responsibility, adding that the Commission did not serve human rights but lengthened the war.

During the interactive dialogue, speakers expressed deep concern at the conflict in Syria, which, after five years, had torn out the social fabric of the country.  States expressed their support to the Syria talks and a political solution respecting Syria’s territorial integrity.  They called on all parties to put an end to violence against civilians, and to fully abide by international humanitarian and human rights laws, calling for strengthened efforts to ensure accountability for perpetrators.  They also called for safe and unhindered humanitarian access to besieged areas, and underlined the necessity to respect human rights while addressing the refugee crisis. 

Speaking during the dialogue were Saudi Arabia on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, European Union, Sweden on behalf of the other Nordic countries, Holy See, Portugal, Estonia, Canada, New Zealand, Qatar, Belgium, United States, Brazil, Bahrain, Germany, Japan, Egypt, Tunisia, France, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Senegal, Switzerland, Russian Federation, Greece, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Croatia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Latvia, Ecuador, Iran, Romania, Israel, Chile, Algeria, Kuwait, Australia, United Kingdom, Cuba, Slovakia, Venezuela, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Spain, China, Jordan, Iraq, Albania, Belarus, Ireland, Turkey, Maldives, Morocco, and Mexico.

The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Imam Ali’s Popular Students Relief Society, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Ecumenical Alliance for Human Rights and Development, in a joint statement with the Arab Federation for Human Rights, Arab Commission for Human Rights, Child Foundation, Allied Rainbow Communities International in a joint statement, and Alliance Defending Freedom.

The Council is having a full day of meetings today.  At noon, it will hear the presentation of a report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as well as an oral update on Eritrea, then hold a general debate on human rights situations requiring the Council’s attention. 

Opening Statement

CHOI KYONGLIM, President of the Human Rights Council, said that on this day exactly 10 years ago, the General Assembly adopted resolution 60/251 establishing the Human Rights Council.  It sought to improve the life of millions of people.  Since then, the Council had played a pivotal role for the promotion and protection of human rights for all.  A panel discussion would be held in New York this afternoon to celebrate this anniversary.  The Council would hold its own celebration in June. 

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (A/HRC/31/68).

Presentation of the Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria

PAULO SÉRGIO PINHEIRO, Chair of Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said that five long years had passed since the war in Syria started, with the toll of victims going far beyond anything imagined.  No corner of the country had been left unscathed.  There were more than five million Syrian refugees, the majority in neighbouring countries and almost one million in Europe.  It was imperative that host countries dealt with the refugee crisis in a way guaranteeing humane treatment and protection.  Children had been disproportionately affected by the war, he said, with hundreds of thousands not attending school and being labelled “the lost generation”.   The relentless efforts of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria and the International Syria Support Group had resulted in the most comprehensive cessation of hostilities to date as part of the Munich agreement.  This had led to a significant decrease of armed violence, and to a return to normalcy in large parts of the country.  The cessation of hostilities had also created the conditions to move forward with the next round of the Geneva talks, paving the way for the implementation of Security Council resolutions 2254 and 2258.  The Commission also joined its voice to resolution 2268 stressing the urgency for all parties to work constructively and in good faith towards political transition. 

Diplomatic efforts had to take place in parallel with the provision of humanitarian assistance.  Too many lives had been lost to starvation and lack of the most basic medical care.  All parties must allow for the sustained and unhindered provision of humanitarian supplies to besieged and hard-to-reach areas.  Ultimately, however, the suffering of those living in such areas could only come to an end with the lifting of all sieges.  Serious violations continued to take place, Mr. Pinheiro said.  Thousands were detained and tortured, many dying in places of detention, and countless numbers of people were still missing.  ISIS continued to use suicide bombs on civilian areas, as well as horrifying sexual enslavement of Yazidi women and girls.  Finally, the ongoing political dialogue must encompass a discussion on transitional justice options.  The Commission had been impartially and independently documenting violations of international law by all sides, providing an accurate view of the reality on the ground.  The Commission would seek to ensure that human rights and accountability issues remained present at the negotiation table.  Syrians wanted peace and demanded justice.  The Commission strongly supported credible international and domestic proceedings to fight impunity.  All parties could however start to reinforce the most basic respect for the rule of law and human rights immediately, including by releasing all prisoners arbitrarily detained, allowing monitoring of detention centres, and establishing mechanisms to deal with cases of missing or disappeared persons.  
 
Statement by the Concerned Country

Syria, speaking as the concerned country, said the reports of the Commission were subject to the interference of States instead of being neutral and having integrity.  The report had a biased and secretive approach which ignored documented information from the Government of Syria.  The manoeuvring and the reports of the Commission gave political cover to terrorism.  Syria refused the disinformation which put terrorists on par with the legitimate Government.  Groups with thousands of foreign terrorists were in the report called “armed opposition”, he said, adding that Syria wondered why the report of the Commission ignored terrorists of “Jaish el Islam” who were supported by Saudi Arabia, leading to daily civilian casualties.  Turkey and Qatar funded terrorists who targeted residential areas in Aleppo.  Instead of condemning those crimes, the report of the Commission gave excuses to terrorist groups.  There were other examples of bias, such as the Commission ignoring the deprivation of water and groups using medical facilities as centres of command.  The Government had abided by the cessation of hostilities, and would protect its civilians against terrorism by foreign countries.  Instead of addressing political accusations to the Government, Syria called for the assigning of real responsibility for violations, adding that the resolution of the Commission did not serve human rights but lengthened the war.

Interactive Dialogue

Saudi Arabia, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, expressed concern about information in the report reflecting the deterioration of the human rights situation and the humanitarian situation as a result of crimes committed by the Syrian regime.  The international community’s failure to arrive at a solution had led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.  Efforts to reach regional stability were commended, and all involved were urged to take steps to punish the perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity.  European Union commended the Commission’s documenting of violations of international humanitarian law by all parties, and added that all those responsible had to be held accountable.  The European Union supported a referral by the Security Council of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, and added that the collective priority of the international community had to be the advancement of the political process outlined in Security Council resolution 2254. 

Sweden, also speaking on behalf of the other Nordic countries Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway, expressed particular concern about the regime’s continued gross and systematic human rights violations, adding that the international community had to stand united to prevent impunity and bring the perpetrators to justice.  The Commission was asked what steps it could take to develop its use of gender disaggregated data in its reporting.  Holy See said that any approach attempting to defend in the first place regional or international interests, without taking into account the unbearable human suffering in Syria, was unethical.  The international community was urged to look at the long-term interests of the entire region and primarily the real interests of Syria.

Portugal reminded that systematic and widespread gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law were persistently committed in Syria with full impunity.  It urged all parties to provide immediate, full and safe access to the humanitarian actors to reach those in urgent need, including a huge number of children.  It also called on Syria and all armed parties to grant full access to the Commission of Inquiry.  Estonia appreciated the valuable work of the Commission of Inquiry, noting that the peace talks provided new hope that the conflict might end soon.  The lack of access to humanitarian aid to those in need was particularly worrying, including attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, including children.  All those responsible for human rights violations should be held responsible, whereas the only solution to the conflict should be political.  Canada highlighted arbitrary detention, deliberate attacks on schools and siege tactics.  The Government of Syria was carrying out indiscriminate attacks on civilians.  It called on all parties to the conflict to comply with international humanitarian law and to guarantee unhindered access to humanitarian aid. 

New Zealand noted that major human rights violations by the Syrian Government had helped cause the conflict, and those abuses would continue until a political solution was found.  It welcomed the recent progress towards a negotiated political resolution, adding that the efforts of the International Syria Support Group and United Nations Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura were critical, as were the intra-Syrian talks.  Qatar condemned the refusal of the Syrian authorities to grant access to the Commission of Inquiry.  It stressed that the Syrian regime had never been serious and that it had tried to block the peace talks by any means.  Qatar expressed concern over plans for the partition of Syria, noting that the territorial integrity of the country could not be compromised.  Belgium underlined the continued suffering of children in Syria, as well as of religious minorities.  It called on all parties to the conflict to cease attacks on civilians, noting that all those responsible for human rights violations should be held accountable.  It also called on the United Nations Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.  United States deplored the appalling atrocities and the systematic targeting of civilians by the Assad regime.  Even though it condemned atrocities committed by all sides, it stressed that the Assad regime had been from the beginning of the conflict the principal culprit for gross human rights violations.

Brazil noted with concern the Commission’s remarks that the conflict had evolved into a multisided proxy war steered from abroad by a network of alliances.  Brazil urged all parties to seriously engage in ongoing peace talks.  It was time for diplomacy to prevail, and Syria had to be restored to Syrians in all their rich diversity.  Bahrain regretted that the Commission was not able to gain access to the Syrian territory, and underlined the necessity for immediate action to be taken to ensure a political resolution to the conflict, respecting Syria’s territorial integrity.  Germany said that the war in Syria had caused more than a quarter of a million of deaths, and had devastated the social fabric of the country.  Human rights violations amounting to crimes against humanity had been committed by parties to the conflict, Germany said, calling on the Syrian authorities to grant full and unimpeded humanitarian access to relief agencies. 

Japan urged the Syrian Government to fully cooperate with the Commission and to grant it access to the country.  People in Syria were undergoing unimaginable suffering, and all parties should immediately cease violence against citizens and strictly observe international humanitarian law and international human rights law.  Egypt was appalled by the extent of destruction in Syria, including of cultural heritage.  The conflict had been tearing apart the social fabric of Syria, as waves of violence continued in the country.  European countries should follow the example of Syria’s neighbouring countries that had received refugees.  Tunisia supported all initiatives to reach a political solution, to achieve peace and to preserve the integrity of Syria.  It was important to facilitate the work of the Commission in documenting violations, and to ensure accountability.  Tunisia urged the international community to take steps to ensure that humanitarian law was respected. 

France said that the Syrian regime continued to violate human rights every day; the use of torture centres and sexual violence amounted to crimes against humanity.  The role of the Commission was crucial in gathering evidence and names of those who sooner or later would have to be brought to justice.  France considered it essential to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes and supported all efforts under the aegis of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General.  Czech Republic reiterated the role of the International Criminal Court in holding accountable those responsible for flagrant violations and abuses of human rights.  Appealing to the Syrian Government to allow access for humanitarian aid for civilian populations in areas under siege, the Czech Republic intended to increase its support and aid, including through the Czech embassy in Damascus.  Netherlands said that the current cessation of hostilities presented a glimmer of hope, adding that all parties had to provide humanitarian access and release detainees, particularly women and children.  The Commission was asked how accountability could be enhanced alongside the Geneva process. 

Senegal expressed hope that peace talks in Geneva under the Special Envoy would make it possible to achieve a consolidated ceasefire, and welcomed the interest of the Security Council which had adopted resolution 2268.  Efforts by international organizations were welcome, but Senegal remained convinced that the return of peace in Syria required a political agreement.  Switzerland said that the denial of access to Syria for members of the Commission was a serious matter, adding that violations of human rights and international humanitarian law on a large scale by all parties in a climate of total impunity had to be condemned with the strongest force.  All actors concerned were called on to guarantee access by impartial and neutral humanitarian organizations; Switzerland was convinced of the need to render justice through national or international means.  Russian Federation noted the information in the report on crimes by terrorist groups and structures affiliated with them, adding that a number of groups posing as the moderate opposition cooperated with terrorist groups.  It would be useful to have a separate report on Al Nusra and terrorist groups acting with Al Qaeda, and the Commission was also called on to continue to study the sources of financing of terrorists.

Greece expressed deep concern over the spread of extremism and the absence of protection of the rights of the civilian population in Syria, including all ethnic and religious groups, in particular Christian communities.  It also highlighted the dramatically increasing number of refugees towards Europe, mostly through Greece.  A viable political solution to the Syrian conflict was needed more than ever and to that end Greece fully supported the efforts of the United Nations Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura.  Liechtenstein noted that the cessation of hostilities in Syria was necessary and urgently needed.  But all efforts to bring a peaceful conclusion had to fully reflect the need to ensure accountability for the crimes committed.  There had been a serious lack of progress in the justice dimension, which had to be an integral part of the peace talks, as well as the participation of women. 

Malaysia urged all parties to the conflict in Syria to respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law.  It reiterated that the provision of humanitarian assistance should not be used as a political leverage tool or a tool to achieve political means.  All parties had to take necessary measures to protect civilians.  Croatia noted that millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria were fleeing their homes, whereas conflict, siege and a harsh winter hampered food availability.  Only a political solution aimed at achieving a stable Syria-led transition and the preservation of its sovereignty, territorial integrity, and its multi-ethnic and multi-religious character, had a chance to secure long-term peace in Syria.  Democratic People’s Republic of Korea stated that Western countries, which actually backed terrorism, were accountable for the ongoing systematic and appalling human rights violations committed by Israel in the Golan Heights and other Arab territories and for the bloodshed in Syria.  All issues related to Syria should be decided and resolved by the Syrian Government and the Syrian people themselves, without outside intervention and pressure.  Latvia expressed shock over the humanitarian situation in the country.  Access to the 4.6 million people living in besieged and hard-to-reach locations remained a critical concern.  Latvia placed a lot of hope on the success of the current peace talks, noting that women should fully participate in the current and future political negotiations about their country’s future.

Remarks by the Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria

PAULO SÉRGIO PINHEIRO, Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said to Syria that if it believed that its views were not taken into account, it should allow the Commission access and cooperate with it.  Not once had Syria done so.  The Commission had covered all sides without distinction.  It was offensive and absurd to say that the Commission made a difference between “good” and “bad” terrorism.  The Commission did not grade terrorist groups.  Responding to comments made by other delegations, Mr. Pinheiro said that women must have a place at the negotiation table.  Releasing all political prisoners, ensuring humanitarian aid, and ending all sieges were the three priorities on the short term.  The increase of sectarian divisions in the conflict was concerning.

Interactive Dialogue

Ecuador condemned the repeated use of indiscriminate violence, and drew attention to the evolution of the conflict into an international multi-dimensional conflict.  Ecuador rejected initiatives that sought to put the blame on only one side while ignoring violations by all parties.  It underlined the importance of protecting the rights of Syrian refugees, and called for an end to illegal detention and torture in Syria.  Iran said the Israeli regime had destabilized Syria, and that the rise of “Da’esh” required decisive action while respecting the sovereignty and integrity of Syria.  Only a Syrian-led political dialogue could end the conflict.  The Council should avoid any decision that would jeopardize efforts by the International Syria Support Group.  Romania was concerned that the recommendations by the Commission remained ignored and unimplemented, and called on all parties to end violations of international law and attacks against civilians.  The international community should spare no effort to support the intra-Syrian talks. 

Israel discussed the complexity of the conflict in Syria, also enumerating human rights violations being committed, with special focus on crimes that ISIS was committing, such as markets to sell women and girls.  While many of the countries present at today’s meeting were trying to help refugees and migrants, others were supporting those who were making them flee.  Chile said that victims should be the main concern of the Council, adding its condemnation of any attack on humanitarian workers, which was a grave violation of international humanitarian law.  The Commission was asked if women’s participation in peace negotiations was wanted, why was there no specific recommendation on this in the report, and also whether a requirement of the ongoing peace talks would be the access of the Commission to Syria.  Algeria expressed concern about the deterioration of the human rights situation and condemned all terrorist acts in Syria.  A number of the recommendations were not consistent with reality on the ground and did not contribute to a politically inclusive solution to the crisis, which should exclude all those who advocated violence as political expression. 

Kuwait said it had lived up to its responsibility toward the Syrian people by mobilising humanitarian support, including by organising donor conferences for the Syrian people.  Kuwait alone had already paid $ 1.3 billion, he said, and it was hoped that all other donor countries would quickly fulfil their pledges.  Australia said that the targeting of civilians described in the Commission’s report was an affront to morality and a clear breach of international humanitarian law.  Addressing grave human rights violations would be central to achieving peace, and the warring parties as well as their supporters and the international community had to do all they could to foster that peace.  United Kingdom said that the “indiscriminate and disproportionate” aerial bombardments by the Assad regime with its allies was the primary cause of civilian casualties, and that the regime was also engaging in systematic torture and ill-treatment of detainees.  The United Kingdom called on the immediate lifting of restrictions of humanitarian access by the regime and all other actors, as well as the use of siege tactics to starve civilian populations. 

Cuba expressed concern over the fact that millions of people had to flee Syria to other countries due to the war, that thousands of civilians were executed by extremist groups, and over continued plunder of archaeological and cultural heritage by extremist groups.  The help in arms and money by certain NATO powers to violent groups and to an opposition that had been manipulated posed an obstacle to the successful achievement of peace in Syria.  The real interests of the Syrian people had to prevail.  Slovakia condemned the grave deterioration of the human rights situation and the indiscriminate or deliberate targeting of civilians.  Ensuring implementation of the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions was of key importance and an end to hostilities was a priority.  Addressing the catastrophic situation in Syria required unhindered access for humanitarian aid to the country.  Venezuela warned from the outset of the dangers posed by outside interference into the internal affairs of sovereign States.  Those factors had led to the resurgence of extremist groups in Syria.  It welcomed the engagement of the Russian Federation in the combat against that scourge, reiterated its support for the sovereignty and independence of Syria, and called for the maintenance of the current peace dialogue. 

United Arab Emirates supported the work of the Commission of Inquiry in spite of the lack of access to Syria, and expressed concern over the human rights violations in the country, especially those committed by the Syrian Government.  Those were crimes against humanity and those responsible had to be brought to justice.  It also condemned barriers to humanitarian aid access.  Saudi Arabia condemned the decision of the Syrian Government to continue to deny the Commission of Inquiry access to the country.  It deplored the flagrant human rights violations, especially attacks on civilian populations, and deeply regretted that the Syrian regime continued to deny access to humanitarian aid to the besieged areas in the country.  It praised efforts of the moderate Syrian opposition during the peace talks.  Italy expressed hope that the cessation of hostilities, as well as full and unfettered humanitarian access and delivery of aid to all besieged areas in Syria, could lead to a successful Syrian-led political transition process in accordance with United Nations resolution 2254, including the Geneva Communique.      

Spain regretted that the Syrian authorities continued to deny access to the Commission of Inquiry, and condemned attacks against civilian populations and widespread human rights violations by all parties, as well as barbaric acts by “Da’esh”.  Spain repeated its appeal to ensure accountability for all perpetrators, and asked what progress had been made in this regard.  China said it had promoted the peace talks in a balanced manner, and firmly supported a political solution to the situation in Syria, accommodating the concerns by all parties.  China welcomed the cessation of hostility agreement.  The international community should strengthen humanitarian and counter-terrorism cooperation.  J

Jordan was gravely concerned about the deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in Syria.  It called for an end of hostilities, humanitarian access and a political solution to the conflict there, preserving the independence and territorial integrity of Syria and ensuring the conditions for a voluntary return of refugees.  Iraq supported a solution based on the will of the Syrian people and free from international interference.  The information that Iraqi troops were engaged in Syria was incorrect and unfounded.   Albania welcomed the improvement of the situation on the ground, which was a good opportunity to move towards a political resolution of the crisis.  All parties attacking civilians should be held accountable, and efforts had to be strengthened to ensure humanitarian aid for civilians in besieged areas.  Belarus said that it would not be possible for Syria to observe human rights unless the situation improved, and encouraged the Council to renounce politicized accusations against the country and to stop interfering into its national affairs. 

Ireland said the work of the Commission had been the principal instrument for recording the multiple atrocities inflicted on the Syrian population for the five years that the conflict had endured.  Atrocities, such as the use of starvation sieges against civilian populations, were enumerated; Ireland reiterated its call for the referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, and urged the Security Council to fulfil its duties to uphold international law under the Charter of the United Nations.  Turkey rejected what it called baseless allegations made by the Syrian regime’s representative, condemning such persistent and useless attempts to distract from their cruel acts of violence.  The regime had to be held accountable for its crimes against humanity; the country had become “a playground” for terrorists due to the collaboration of the regime, and as long as Assad stayed in power, Syria would remain in that vicious cycle.  Maldives said that all the rights of Syrians had been infringed upon, and the loss of the cultural heritage of the nation was a loss for all of future humanity.  The international community should be held liable for lack of action to save innocent lives and bring an end to the conflict and the grave humanitarian disaster.  Morocco noted that the new report said the situation in Syria was getting worse, adding that children whose lives had been broken were victims of violence just as adults.  The humanitarian cost was also continuing to rise, and the recent migratory crisis in Europe recalled the scope of the crisis in that regard.  Mexico reiterated its deep concern for the situation in Syria, and condemned all forms of violence committed by all parties.  It was unacceptable that the civilian population was the prime target of war in Syria, and all parties to the conflict were urged to guarantee immediate access to health and food aid, especially noting that minimum access for children should be guaranteed.

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom deeply regretted that crimes committed by the Assad regime against women and girls had not been addressed in the Commission’s report.  The Syrian regime was responsible for 91 per cent of women and girls’ deaths, and it detained 14 times more women than Da’esh, and nine times more than armed opposition groups.  Imam Ali’s Popular Students Relief Society noted that numerous refugee families were wandering in a dreadful situation on the streets of Iraqi Kurdistan in Erbil.  Many Syrian refugees had not been able to register in official camps and were wandering the streets.  Children were experiencing a sense of frustration and deep despair due to the lack of education, food, clothes and play facilities.  Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies drew attention to the systematic use of starvation, sexual violence, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances by the Syrian Government.  It called on the Human Rights Council to convene a high-level panel at the thirty-second and thirty-third sessions to provide victims or eyewitnesses with an opportunity to deliver credible testimonies.

Ecumenical Alliance for Human Rights and Development, in a joint statement with the Arab Federation for Human Rights, stated that parties to the conflict bore responsibility for the ongoing human rights violations in Syria.  The responsibility to protect provided that States could not claim that sovereignty prevented outside actors from bringing about effective protection of human rights in situations where there were widespread violations.  Arab Commission for Human Rights said that it had documented thousands of human rights violations during the five-year conflict in Syria.  It condemned Israel, which was an occupying force in Palestine, for having given lectures on human rights violations in Syria.  It asked the Commission of Inquiry about recommendations to deal with States that did not live up to their international obligations.  Child Foundation condemned the use of children to carry out terrorist attacks, which had become a norm.  More than half of refugee children in the territories occupied by ISIS had no access to their basic needs, which was a serious human rights violation.  It called on the international community, particularly on the Human Rights Council, not to be indifferent towards the violence and abuse committed against children.

Allied Rainbow Communities International, in a joint statement with MantiQitna, said that the report had demonstrated how extremist groups such as Da’esh and the Jabhat al-Nusra systematically aimed to eliminate the very existence of many diverse groups, including lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, and intersex persons.  States were urged to fulfil their obligations toward protecting Syrian people belonging to those groups in accordance with their obligations under international law.  Alliance Defending Freedom said that religious minorities had been targeted specifically on the grounds of their actual or perceived religion by “ISIS/Daesh” with intent to destroy the groups in whole or in part.  Those atrocities amounted to genocide under Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Concluding Remarks

Syria, speaking in concluding remarks as the concerned country, said it had presented hundreds of documents to the Security Council on terrorist organizations, and that the Commission continued to ignore those documents, basing itself on political reasons, not facts.  The reports ignored bombings of cities by armed groups on a daily basis and presented unacceptable justification for civilians used as human shields.  The report should stress the responsibility of States helping terrorist groups.  The Commission was the victim of unilateral decisions which used the Council to interfere in Syria’s internal affairs.

PAULO SÉRGIO PINHEIRO, Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, explained that women had been gravely affected through the denial of humanitarian aid and arbitrary detention.  In the areas controlled by ISIS, women had been completely removed from the public life, for example through denial of education.  The Commission of Inquiry had long been recommending that women should play an important role in the peace process in Syria.  The current political process would not end fighting in areas controlled by ISIS and Jabhat Al-Nusra.  The Commission would continue its documentation activities in close cooperation with Member States.  It would be able to refresh its advocacy efforts to promote accountability in the short and long term.  As for the progress on bringing those responsible for human rights violations to justice, Mr. Pinheiro noted that sadly there had been no progress because all parties to the conflict had ignored those calls and their responsibility.  The Commission had documented a lot of crimes against humanity by many terrorist groups and their associates, and it would always be committed to documenting crimes committed by all parties and would not take any preferential views.  It had reported and documented crimes against women and girls by all the parties, Mr. Pinheiro stressed.

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For use of the information media; not an official record

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