UN Human Rights Council debates Syria. 
Photo: UN photo/Pierre Albouy.UN Human Rights Council debates Syria. Photo: UN photo/Pierre Albouy

UN condemns Syria’s human rights violations

8/23/2011 // The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on Monday August 22 condemning the Syrian authorities’ grave and systematic human rights violations. “The resolution sends a clear signal to the Syrian pro-democracy movement that it has the international community’s support,” said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

Before the weekend, the EU, the US and Norway called on President Assad to step down.

“The debate in the Human Rights Council and the resolution show that the Syrian regime has, through its use of violence, lost its legitimacy both inside and outside the country. In our intervention we reiterated our call for President Assad to step down and for the Syrian authorities to immediately put an end to the violence,” said Mr Støre.

The resolution adopted during the special session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva also establishes an independent international commission of inquiry to investigate all alleged violations of human rights law since March 2011in Syria with a view to ensuring that the perpetrators are held accountable. The Human Rights Council urged the Syrian authorities in the strongest terms to put an end to the ruthless violence and killings of the country’s own citizens and to allow immediate access for humanitarian assistance.

“We welcome the clear statement made by Human Right Council. It is important that the international community, with the UN in the lead, is united in its response to the grave situation in Syria and that the perpetrators are brought to justice. I am particularly pleased that the Arab countries voted in favour of the resolution. This is an important signal,” said Mr Støre.   

According to the resolution adopted during the meeting, the attacks against peaceful protesters may constitute crimes against humanity.

The special session of the Human Rights Council on Syria was held in Geneva in response to an EU initiative supported by Norway.
The situation in Syria was also dealt with at a special session of the Human Rights Council in April this year. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was requested to dispatch a fact-finding mission to Syria to investigate the human rights situation in the country. The High Commissioner’s report, which was submitted last week, reveals a pattern of widespread, grave and systematic human rights violations by the authorities, including murder, torture and enforced disappearances. According to the report, these abuses may amount to crimes against humanity. Last week the High Commissioner for Human Rights recommended that the Security Council should consider referring the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

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