49th Human Rights Council Reports

Report on Syrian Arab Republic


March 18, 2022: Interactive dialogue with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic

All sources used to draft the report can be found here. Report drafted by Emanuela Lamorte on March 30th, 2022.

Composition of the HRC

Panel Discussion

Mister Vice-President Tamim M. Baiou opened the interactive dialogue with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic on the 18th of March.

Mr. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, began his statement by stating that after 11 years of crisis and conflict, the Syrian population is suffering from a new level of hardship due to the combination of escalating violence, economic crisis and humanitarian disaster. Mr. Pinheiro remarked that more than half of the pre-war population has been displaced and more than thousands are still missing and or disappeared. Over 90% of the remaining population is living in poverty and 12 million people are insecure. Mr. Pinheiro highlighted that Syria will be confronting additional hardship as the result of the Ukrainian crisis. Moreover, as living conditions continue to deteriorate the Commission has called for a review of the impact of unilateral sanctions imposed on Syria. The member of the Commission recalled that parts of the country are still witnessing frontline fire and bombardment. He emphasised that practising of torture and arbitrary detention continue, in some cases leading to death. The Commission commanded the UN GA to adopt the resolution 67/ 2028 to request the SG to establish this issue. Mr. Pinheiro united his voice with that of the Syrian families of missing and disappeared persons to call for the creation of an independent mechanism with an international mandate to coordinate and consolidate claims regarding missing persons and persons subject to enforced disappearance. Mr Pinheiro also expressed concern for children who are deprived of their most basic rights and are under the constant risk of being injured, killed or trafficked. The Commission called upon attention that gender based discrimination and violence continue in Syria. According to the report, girls are increasingly forced into early marriage and boys are sent to war or recruited into the conflict. Mr Pinheiro highlighted that the Syrian conflict has not ended. As far as the accountability front, the commission repeated its recommendations to all parties to conduct credible, independent and impartial investigation in incidents entailing civilians. Those responsible for violations must be held accountable. In conclusion, quoting the Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Mr Pinheiro stated that we must not lose hope, but we must act now and move beyond rhetorical commitment to peace. He emphasised that member states must do all that is necessary to reach a negotiating political solution that respects Syrian sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence, for the restoration of the basic human rights that have been so long denied to the Syrian people.

Syrian Arab Republic (Country Concerned)

SAR renewed its rejection of the mandate of the Commission and its report. The country concerned emphasised that it is a platform for shaming and circulating unacceptable delegations. It renewed its call to the Council to end this politicised mandate that does not have the consent of the country concerned and

that lacks credibility and objectivity. SAR stated that it is falsely called an interactive dialogue, but in reality it is highly politicised. The Representative of SAR stated that the report is misleading and ignore the challenges facing Syria as a result of the terrorist war waged against the foreign occupation of its land. He recalled that under these challenges and in order to cooperate with the mechanism of this Council through constructive dialogue, Syria has recently completed its third periodic report. The periodic report, he stated, will refuse the accusation made against Syria through the report of this Commission, which like its previous report continues to put political agenda ahead to humanitarian and legal consideration. The Representative expressed concern on the limited time given to SAR to speak as a concerned country, considered by the Representative insufficient to respond to the accusations and misleading information of the report. In conclusion, SAR completely rejected the report, which contributed to providing a cover for abuses for the states sponsor of this Commission mandate.

Panel discussion

The European Union expressed its full support to the report on the massive violations of human rights conducted first by the Syrian regime and its allies but also by other non-state actors. The EU called upon the Syrian regime to engage meaningfully in the political process under UNSCR 2254. The EU emphasised that accountability is key and called to have the situation referred to the ICC. In conclusion, the EU highlighted that the regime must stop enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention.

The Syrian Arab Republic (Point of Order) asked the presidency to ensure that debates remain respectful regardless of political differences, including calling countries by their names.

Iceland (on behalf of the Nordic Baltic Countries) stated that Syria has committed massive human rights violations including torture, killing, enforced disappearances. Iceland emphasised that accountability is key. Moreover, it stressed the importance that the Syrian regime engages with the political process under UNSCR 2254 to create peace and security in Syria. In conclusion, the Representative asked the Commissioner what can be done to achieve accountability and what more can be done for those who are missing or in arbitrary detention.

Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) (point of order): supported the point of order raised by the Syrian Arab Republic. Venezuela asked that an appropriate level of decorum would be conserved in the UN.

Liechtenstein expressed high concern on the situation in Syria. The Representative stated that humanitarian needs are higher than at the beginning of the conflict. Moreover, he highlighted that for the new generation of children war has become a habit. Lichtenstein stated that accountability is imperative. It reiterated its support to the report and the Commission of Inquiry.

Qatar stated that this report coincides with the conflict in Syria. According to Qatar, the Syrian regime refused the request of transition and chose a military solution perpetrating the form of violations and destruction as the UN report has documented. Qatar called on all concerned countries to support the negotiation as a main step to reach a political solution.

Israel began with three examples of the brutality of the Syrian regime. Israel stated that children have been targets of chemical weapons. Israel also noted that the Syrian regime continues to kill and bomb thousands of innocent civilians.

Germany aligned with the EU statement. Germany reiterated its support to the Commission mandate. The vice president stated that, with violence and conflict continuing in Syria, her country will continue to apply a universal jurisdiction. She also urged the creation of an independent mechanism. Then, Germany asked what the international community could do to prevent the trend of forced disappearance.

Italy urged all parties to end these massive human rights violations and to take all necessary steps. Italy emphasised the importance to engage meaningfully to all necessary mechanisms as all actors should be held accountable.

Democratic People's Republic of Korea shared the same concerns of SAR according to which the report is based on false assumptions and needs certain standards of professionalism, impartiality and independence. Democratic People's Republic of Korea stated that the report is an attempt to manipulate the Human Rights Council for the interest of western countries. Democratic People's Republic of Korea emphasised that it will continue to support the Syrian government and people.

Egypt expressed deep concern over the deterioration of human rights violations in Syria and all the violations committed by terrorist groups. Egypt asked for tackling the crisis In Syria with a comprehensive approach, which takes into consideration all its causes. The Representative called upon all Council mechanisms and stressed that the only option for the government is the one in accordance with the resolution 2254 of the Council to find long-term solutions that allow the restoration of the basic infrastructures and provide basic services to citizens.

The United Arab Emirates stated that it has taken note of the report of the Commission of Inquiry. The UAE reiterated the desire for a political solution that puts an end to the crisis. The UAE expressed its full support to the Human Rights report and other international efforts, which aim to achieve a peaceful achievement. The Representative expressed concern on the continuous activities of terrorist in Syria, which bring to great number of civilian casualties.

Iraq has taken note of the report presented by the independent Commission, which reflects the catastrophic situation in the country. Iraq stated its belief that only through Syrian dialogue the Syrian economic crisis could be overcome. The Representative emphasised that it is essential to increase international and regional cooperation. Iraq highlighted that its approach is a balanced one, which supports cooperation and the UN efforts to facilitate this inter Syrian dialogue.

Ecuador thanked the Commission for its report. Ecuador expressed its condemnation of massive human rights violations and joined the call for sustainable ceasefire.

Cuba congratulated Syria for its commitment to participation in the periodical review. Cuba rejected unilateral coercive measures and interference in the regime. As well, the Representative rejected the politicised resolution as a mandate that is not based on the consent of the country concerned. Cuba stated its support to the search for peace negotiating solutions for Syria without foreign interference in respect of sovereign and territorial integrity. Cuba stated it was proud of having made a modest contribution with donations of vaccines to Syria during Covid-19.

France expressed support for the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria. The Representative highlighted that the bombing of hospitals and schools continue to be carried out in violation of human rights law. France stressed the importance that the perpetrators of crimes must not remain unpunished, but that the UN SC resolution 2254 must be applied.

Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) expressed regret for the loss of lives in Syria and expressed solidarity with the Syrian population. Venezuela stated that the politicisation of the work of the Commission is obvious. Since 2011, according to Venezuela, the Commission has insisted on distorting the situation in Syria. Venezuela highlighted that the mandate of interference is an attack against universality objectivity and violation of UN Charter principle on non-interference and should not be renewed. The Representative demanded respect for Syrian sovereignty.

Luxembourg expressed its full support to the statement made by the EU. Luxembourg stated that over 10 years after the start of this conflict, the situation remains of highly concern. The Representative expressed full support to the renewal of the mandate of the Commission and its crucial work. Luxembourg firmly condemned the crimes committed and the impunity in the Syrian Arab Republic. Therefore, it expressed support for the decision to put the situation in the hands of a court.

Brazil thanked the Commission for its valid report. Brazil reiterated its support to Syrian own and Syrian led political solutions to end the conflict. Regarding the geopolitical complexity of the situation, the representative of Brazil affirmed that all parties should comply with the IHL and human rights law ensuring that the Syrian population is protected. Brazil agreed with the creation of an independent mechanism to coordinate and consolidate complaints about missing persons as well as independent assessment on sanctions on the civilian population particularly on vulnerable groups. Brazil welcomed the mediation effort of the UN and called upon all members to cooperate in an immediate and nationwide ceasefire in respect with the preservation of the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria.

China stated that sanctions could only increase suffering on people. China reiterated that the sovereignty, independence and the unity of the Syrian Arab Republic must be effectively respected and protected. The Representative stated that the USA and UK are undeniably responsible for the suffering of the Syrian people. According to China, the USA keeps refusing to apologise or admit guilt. The Representative stated that the UK and USA must carry out impartial investigations in two instances involving civilians' deaths, remove illegal unilateral coercive measures on Syria, and stop plundering its resources.

Japan stated that all the human rights violations should be held accountable. Japan called upon all parties for cooperation to ensure a ceasefire. Japan reiterated its commitment to working closely with international partners.

Spain stated that the human rights situation in Syria was devastating; the humanitarian situation got worse last year. Spain reiterated its support to the Commission of Inquiry. Despite the UN efforts to achieve peace, there has been little progress. The Representative called for a ceasefire and asked to stop attacks against civilians. The cases of arbitrary detention and torture confirmed that there are still war crimes. Spain emphasised that there must be accountability and victim reparation. The representative asked how the Commission of Inquiry could ensure the complementarity between the international mechanisms to ensure justice and reparation of victims.

The Netherlands aligned itself with the EU. It expressed deep appreciation of the work of the Commission of Inquiry. The Representative stated that poverty rates have reached an unprecedented 90%. The Netherlands called upon the international community to continue to see justice for the victims of the Assad regime. The Representative of the Netherlands acknowledged that hundreds of thousands of Syrians were still left in the dark about the fate of missing loved ones. Therefore, the Representative asked the Commission of Inquiry if it would have been better to establish a new entity coordinating and consolidating claims regarding missing persons or if this could have best been achieved by strengthening coordination among organisations that are currently already involved in such work.

Switzerland thanked the Commission for its report. Switzerland called upon all parties of the conflict to put an end to violations of international humanitarian law and to reach a lasting ceasefire. The country reiterated its support to the Commission of Inquiry and asked what means the international community could use to increase cooperation among states and to increase accountability.

Sri Lanka expressed its opposition to the resolution and mandate, which violates the principle of sovereignty, objectivity and non-subjectivity of the Human Rights Council. Sri Lanka reiterated the importance of respecting the principle of sovereignty and non-intervention in the internal affairs as enshrined in the Chart of the UN. According to Sri Lanka, unilateral coercive measures have resulted in exacerbating the suffering of the civilian population. In conclusion, the Representative congratulated Syria for successfully completing its third review last year .

The Russian Federation stated that the situation in Syria remains tense. The Representative highlighted that the main threat stems from terrorist groups who have found shelter in areas that are outside government control. At the same time, according to the Russian Federation western countries continue to exercise international political pressure on the Syrian government with the view to shaping the process of the Syrian settlement to their advantage. The representative stated that the Commission is helping them in many ways in doing this. The Russian Federation emphasised that the report of the Commission continues to be politicised and biassed and ignores the action of states, which conduct a hostile policy against the lawful government of Syria. The Representative stated that unilateral coercive measures against Syria are based on unfounded declarations and that they have a ruinous impact on the development of the population.

Australia thanked the Commission for its update on the situation in Syria. Australia remained deeply concerned by the dire humanitarian conditions faced by the 6.7 million people internally displaced since 2011 and vulnerable to human rights violations. Australia condemned the practice of unlawful disappearance, torture and sexual violence. The Representative asked the Commission how states would support the resumption of the UN facilitated peace process and support the effective engagement in negotiation in good faith by all parties.

Kuwait thanked the Commission of Inquiry for its report. Kuwait expressed concern on the continuation of the conflict in Syria and the violations of IHL and HRL. Kuwait was convinced that it could not be a military solution to the Syrian conflict but that the only solution should be a peaceful solution based on SC resolution 2254.

Chile welcomed the report. Chile in accordance with the report pointed out that there are many causes contributing to the conflict and agreed with the desire of the UN to facilitate dialogue in a constructive spirit. Chile expressed its belief that the true solution to the situation in Syria should not be through weapons and that all parties of conflict must respect humanitarian law and basic human rights standards.

Ireland aligned with the statement of the EU. Ireland expressed high concern on the attack on civilians and civilians' infrastructure and on the humanitarian deterioration in Syria. The Representative stressed the need for accountability for human rights violations and abuses and emphasised the importance of ensuring humanitarian access to all people in need. Ireland called on the government of Syria and all parties involved to release information on the place of detainment of individuals to their families. The Representative asked what measures could the international community take to ensure that there is accountability for attacks on civilians.

Mr. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic Insisted on the fact that there are no military solutions to the crisis in Syria; the only solution is a political solution. Secondly, Mr Pinheiro stressed the importance of an authentic ceasefire, defined by resolution 2254. Thirdly, the members of the Commission highlighted that the real interest of the Syrian people should be taken into consideration.

Mr. Hanny Megally, Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic Concerning the issue of accountability, Mr Megally stated that the Commission is putting many efforts to make people accountable at the national level of crimes committed in Syria. For example, 60 criminal investigations were going on, but this was still not enough. Mr Megally stated that jurisdictions around the world needed to talk to each other more. They should also include gender units and legislation must be changed to allow for international jurisdiction.

In terms of justice and the issues of the missing and disappearances, the member of the Commission affirmed that there is a need for a new entity for coordination. In conclusion, concerning the question on coordination on criminal justice, Mr Megally stated that member states should look at the example of coordination between the Commission of Inquiry and the Triple I mechanism (International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism).

Ms. Lynn Welchman, Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic Addressed and answered questions on gender based violence and child rights.

Belarus stated that when the resolution 2254 was voted, 20 Council members did not support it. Belarus stated that it does not support the mandate of the International Commission on Syria and that it considers it to be purely political. Belarus did not accept the Commission report and considered it biassed. The Representative states that there is no doubt that the UNSC is against the Syrian people and in the hands of western countries. Belarus therefore asked for the abolition of the Commission mandate on Syria.

The United States of America upholded Syrian human rights defenders who despite the several abuses continue to advocate for democracy and human rights. The Representative stated that the majority of disappearances are held by the regime and that some of the regime violations count as crimes against humanity. The USA underscored the need for an inclusive resolution that includes arbitrary detains in Syria. The USA affirmed that they continue to stay with the Syrian people and demand accountability. The Representative asked the Commission how to release people arbitrarily detained and help identify the tens of thousands of missing Syrians.

Belgium thanked the Commission for the tireless work. It condemned blind attacks against dense population areas. Belgium highlighted that in the report, the Commission recommended the creation of an independent mechanism for the coordination of help and support for the disappeared, and that the success of this kind of mechanism will depend on the collaboration of the Syrian government responsible for the larger number of those who disappeared. Belgium asked the Commission how indeed members could cooperate in order to identify the persons who disappeared.

Romania aligned with the EU statement. Romania appreciated the work of the Commission of Inquiry. The Representative expressed concern on violations of human rights and humanitarian law. Romania urged the parties of the conflict to pursue a lasting ceasefire and the protection of civilians. The Representative asked the Syrian regime to engage meaningfully and to align with the 2254 resolution of the SC.

Turkey stated that it has always supported accountability in order to alleviate the suffering of millions of Syrian victims who are subjected to gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law. According to

Turkey the regime remains the main perpetrator of these gross violations, including starvation, disruption of basic services, obstruction of humanitarian assistance. Turkey called upon the IC to be vigilant. Moreover the country will continue to support the territorial integrity and unity of Syria.

Greece expressed support for the mandate of the Commission. The Representative joined the call for accountability for human rights violations and abuses committed by the Syrian government, non-states actors and any other actors. Greece supported the implementation of UN SC resolution 2254 and called for an immediate and lasting ceasefire. The Representative welcomed the increased consideration of child recruitment in the last report.

Albania reiterated its support to the Commission. The report shows gross human rights violations perpetrated by all parties involved especially by the regime and its allies. In these terms, Albania welcomed the proposal of having violations in Syria prosecuted by the international court. Albania highlighted that no military solution will end the conflict.

Nicaragua expressed concern for the continued investigation without the agreement of the concerned country which is a violation of the UN Charter and does not include the spirit of cooperation that should be part of international law. According to Nicaragua, more than ten years of conflict in Syria have been promoted by foreign forces and the Syrian population also has to bear the sanctions that are making the situation worse. Nicaragua highlighted that this did not appear in the report. Therefore the Representative rejected the report. Nicaragua encouraged the Human Rights Council to stop its interventionist and interfering policy.

Croatia aligned with the EU statement and thanked the Commissioner for the report. The Representative stressed that the Geneva conventions ask all parties of the conflict to respect the Convention in all circumstances. Croatia condemned targeting killing, torture and chemical weapons, as well as the recruitment of children soldiers.

Cyprus aligned with the EU statement and thanked the Commission. The Commission findings are deeply concerning. Cyprus stressed that the violation of the humanitarian law and human rights continue. Civilians on the ground continue to suffer. Cyprus highlighted that the disruption of cultural heritage is a violation of IHL. The Representative asked how best the IC could encourage the peace process.

Georgia expressed deep concern on the Commission findings on violations of IHL and human rights. Violations and abuses continue. Georgia stated that the Syrian regime continues to ignore the duty to protect the civilian population. The Representative reiterated its support to the peaceful solution in Syria. The Representative took the opportunity to state its support to Ukraine and called on Russia to immediately stop this aggression.

Malta aligned with the statement of the EU. Malta condemned these violations of the IHL and human rights perpetrated by all parties to the conflict. The Representative called on all parties to cease indiscriminate targeting on civilians and civilian infrastructure. At the same time, Malta called for accountability on arbitrary detention and forced disappearances. The country expressed concerns for the increase of sexual and gender based violence as well as violations against children and people with disabilities. Malta recalled its long standing position on the need for an inclusive political solution based on the full implementation of the SC resolution 2254.

Lao People's Democratic Republic stated that it ignores the work of the Commission of Inquiry. Lao People's Democratic Republic welcomed the continued efforts of the Syrian Arab Republic in promoting and

protecting human rights including national reconciliation and settlement. The representative therefore emphasised that the work of the HRC should be guided by the principles of university, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity, constructive international dialogue and cooperation.

Zimbabwe thanked the Commission of Inquiry for its report. Zimbabwe stated that Syria continues to take steps to promote national reconciliation and settlement programmes. The country successfully participated in the UPE this year. The Representative stated that he is concerned about the negative impact of UCM. Zimbabwe called on this Council to take attention to the issue of the UCM with the view to putting an end to the application by some states as tools of coercion in relation with other states.

Jordan thanked the members of the Commission of Inquiry. The Representative of Jordan stated that International efforts need to be strengthened in order to find a political solution to this crisis, by preserving the territorial integrity, security and stability of the Syrian people. Jordan urged the need to take specific measures to improve the daily lives of citizens, particularly in the south of the country. The country supported the efforts made by the UN to support a political solution in line with resolution 2254.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland began by sending a clear message to the Syrian people "we have not forgotten you". The Representative stated that the Commission of Inquiry provides a voice to the Syrian people and we must listen. War crimes continue to be committed. According to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, both Syrian authorities and Russian allies have carried out indiscriminate bombardment of civilian populated areas. There should be no impunity for violation of IHL. The Representative highlighted that perpetrators must and will be held into account. In conclusion, she asked the Commission what recommendations they have to improve coordination and effectiveness of accountability efforts targeting the Syrian authority and its Russian ally.

Iran (Islamic Republic of) continued to regard such country specific mandates that are imposed on the Council as part of a political pressure campaign against the targeted state as counterproductive. Iran commended Syria for its courageous fight against extremism and terrorism as well as its resistance against foreign military intervention, preserving the territorial integrity of the country. The Representative highlighted that members should not forget the fact that the Syrian people have been the victims of a long destabilising policy and brutal war protracted by some regional and international actors. Unlawful military campaigns against Syria have been accompanied by unilateral coercive measures by the USA, UK and others in violation of international law. According to Iran, the US is also responsible for polluting and smuggling of Syrian national resources and agricultural products out of the country. The representative stated that the HRC should not overlooked the real cause of civilians suffering that is continuous foreign military intervention, UCM and foreign terrorism.

Ms. Lynn Welchman, Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic Concerning the issue on housing land and property rights and what the international community can do to prevent the trend of increasing violation of this right, Ms Welchman highlighted that this is addressed in each section of the Commission report. The member of the Commission stressed also the importance that member states and the international community should use their influence to persuade their allies to stop land confiscation and polluting. She also emphasised that states must help to improve the economic situation through aid and review the impact of sanctions on the daily life of Syrian civilians.

Mr. Hanny Megally, Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (Final Remarks)

Expressed his opinion on the issue of detention, missing and disappeared people. On those who are in detention, Mr Megally stated that concrete recommendations were presented in the report including the fact that all actors should make clear where these places are, ensure access to family members, allow the access of the Red Cross, and start releasing people who were arbitrarily detained. Secondly, on the issue of the missing and the disappeared, the member of the Commission affirmed that clear recommendations also in this case could be found in the report and that what is needed now is stronger coordination. Thirdly, on strengthening accountability, Mr Megally called on all parties involved in Syria because they all have committed crimes to stop committing crimes.


Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development for Peace