Syria Alert Issue XI: Don’t Fail Syria
IKV Pax Christi
15 April 2013
Bold steps must be taken to stop the massive killing and suffering of Syrian civilians, to prevent further regional destabilization, and to assist the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC) to protect civilians under continuous threat of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In this Syria Alert, IKV Pax Christi asserts that the Syrian regime has lost any credible and legitimate claim to sovereignty over Syrian territory. Sovereignty implies accountability to two separate constituencies,internally to the Syrian people; and internationally to the community of responsible states and in the form of compliance with human rights and humanitarian agreements.
A government that intentionally kills its own citizens cannot claim sovereignty in an effort to keep the outside world from stepping in to offer protection and assistance. When a government massively abuses the fundamental rights of its citizens its sovereignty should be suspended2. Like other analysts and human rights organizations, Human Rights Watch concluded in its recent report “Death from the skies”3 that the Syrian regime has committed gross violations of Human Rights and International Law since “the Syrian Air Force has repeatedly carried out indiscriminate, and in some cases deliberate, air strikes against civilians.”
The SOC, including the temporary government under formation and the Free Syrian Army (FSA), is the only party in the Syrian conflict that at least expresses a genuine willingness to accept responsibility to protect civilians from massive human rights violations and atrocities, and thus has a far better claim to sovereignty. IKV Pax Christi proposes – in summary – the following strategy to end the ongoing stalemate:
♦ Choose unambiguously to engage politically with the SOC and to provide material support, enabling the coalition to form a functional executive and to perform administrative functions, when feasible, within Syria. Also agree upon a roadmap towards recognition of the SOC as representative of the Syrian state, with a perspective towards full membership in the United Nations
♦ Use the aforementioned roadmap as a means of pressuring the Assad government, granting it a last chance to engage in a true effort to find a political solution.
♦ Do not arm the opposition at this stage, but start preparing military options to stop the regime’s aerial bombings and ballistic missile attacks on civilians. These options may include limited airstrikes and/or a limited no-fly zone as potentially the most effective ways to protect civilians in liberated areas against the most severe crimes against humanity and violations of the laws of war.
♦ Address the current humanitarian aid imbalance – which is the result of extremely limited access to areas under opposition control – by looking for ways to circumvent the legal blockade and exploring opportunities for cooperation and coordination with the Assistance Coordination Unit (ACU) of the SOC in order to reach civilians most in need in opposition-held areas. (…)
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