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Human Rights Council 37: Resolution on Syria

This UK Statement was delivered during the 37th session of the Human Rights Council to introduce the Resolution on Human Rights in the Syrian Arab Republic.

The Human Rights Council takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva
The Human Rights Council takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

The UK presents this resolution on the human rights situation in Syria on behalf of a group of states: France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UK and the US.

It is with sadness that we must present this text once again. It was during the course of this Council session that the seventh anniversary of the conflict was marked. The human rights situation remains as desperate as ever. The urgent debate on Eastern Ghouta brought this into stark relief. It was right that this body took the strong and principled stance that it did. And it is right that we continue to shine a spotlight on the terrible events taking place across Syria. With this resolution the Council will convey a strong message of support and solidarity to all Syrians, who must endure the devastating consequences of this conflict day in and day out.

This resolution has been streamlined, updated, and reflects as many of the views of partners as has been possible. We have again engaged in an open negotiation process, consulting widely with member states and civil society and holding two informals during this session. We thank delegations for their constructive participation.

The March resolution is particularly important as it renews the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry. In the Commission’s latest reports presented to this Council, we have once again seen documented the widespread violations and abuses of human rights across Syria, particularly by the Syrian regime, including the arbitrary detention of tens of thousands and the use of torture and sexual violence. We have once again seen that it is civilians who bear the brunt of this conflict – schools bombed, hospitals targeted and crowded market places hit. We have also once again seen the Commission’s fearless independence in documenting events according to the evidence available, and making recommendations to various parties to the conflict. Their work is far from done.

We welcome the Commission’s clear identification of actions – and those perpetrating them – that breach international law. This includes their finding that the use of unguided bombs, including blast weapons, by Russian fixed wing aircraft, in the densely populated area of Atarib market, may amount to a war crime.

We thank the Commissioners and their staff for their steadfast commitment to fulfilling the mandate this Council has given them, and we urge all Member States to vote in support of this resolution to ensure that this vital body has it’s mandate renewed. Alongside the IIIM, the COI is one of the key mechanisms we have to ensure accountability. We look forward to the two working together.

Mr President, we have said this before. At this very moment, while we speak, violations and abuses continue across Syria. Civilians are fleeing their homes in desperation, children are becoming ever more damaged by the trauma of having known nothing but violent conflict during their entire lives, and – put simply - people are dying. These aren’t just words, this is the reality.

Mr President, the very least we can do is show our solidarity and support. We urge Member States to adopt this resolution by consensus.

Published 23 March 2018