Open Letter: UN General Assembly Should Condemn the Violence in Syria
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
23 October 2011
29 primarily international and Middle East/North Africa- based NGOs, including ICRtoP Steering Committee Members International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) and partner Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P) sent an open letter urging the UN General Assembly to adopt a resolution calling for an end to arbitrary arrests and detainment, torture, and the use of excessive force against protestors. The letter also calls for a resolution demanding the Syrian government’s cooperation with the UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry and the deployment of human rights monitors in the country.
In light of the Security Council’s failure to address the violence by Syria’s security forces against their own people, we call on the UN General Assembly urgently to adopt a resolution demanding that the Syrian government immediately halt all unlawful use of lethal and excessive force against demonstrators, end the arbitrary arrest and torture of detainees, account for all those who have been subject to enforced disappearances, cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry established by the UN Human Rights Council, allow the unrestricted deployment of human rights monitors, and grant access to humanitarian organizations and independent journalists.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has raised “credible allegations of crimes against humanity in Syria” and has encouraged the Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court. The Syrian Government “has consistently used excessive force to crush peaceful protests,” Pillay said, denouncing “a devastatingly remorseless toll of human lives.” According to the UN, since March, more than 3,000 people have been killed, including at least 187 children, while thousands more have been arrested, detained, forcibly disappeared, and tortured.
On October 4, after seven months of near complete inaction, Russia and China vetoed a Security Council resolution calling on Syria to end the violence against its citizens. India, Brazil, and South Africa abstained from the vote, invoking concerns that the condemnatory resolution might lead to the imposition of sanctions, while claiming to be deeply concerned with the plight of the Syrian people.
It is incumbent upon the General Assembly to take action where the Security Council has failed to do so. Resolution 377A of the UN General Assembly states that “if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security […], the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately.”
The General Assembly resolution should also ask the UN Secretary-General to name a special envoy for Syria, as well as refer the upcoming report of the Commission of Inquiry back to the UN Security Council for further consideration.
We believe the time has come for the General Assembly to play its part by making clear the world body will no longer stay silent, while Syrians are the victims of government-orchestrated violence and grave human rights violations. (…)
Read the full letter.