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HRC resolution calls further international attention to the brutality of the Assad regime
March 22, 2013

Situation of Human Rights in the Syrian Arab Republic
As Delivered by Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe

General Comment by the United States

Note: The resolution was adopted by a vote of 41 in favor, 1 against, 5 abstentions

The United States is pleased to co-sponsor and join consensus for the 9th time on an HRC resolution deploring the grave situation in Syria.  We welcome the Arab Group’s leadership at the HRC in addressing the crisis in Syria, as well as the renewal of the mandate of the commission of inquiry.  This resolution calls further international attention to the brutality of the Assad regime and the ongoing serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in Syria.  We are grateful that the COI will continue its important work to document violations and abuses committed by all parties to the conflict.

Moreover, we are appalled by the continuing violence in Syria that has resulted in more than 70,000 deaths and over one million refugees since the start of the conflict.  The COI’s latest report  details horrifying first-hand accounts of murders; deliberate and systematic torture, rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence; assault and targeted destruction of protected civilian property including schools and mosques; and use of children in fighting forces.

We repeat our call on all parties to the conflict – including Government forces, government-affiliated militia, and armed opposition groups – to comply strictly with their obligations under international law, in particular international humanitarian law.  In accordance with those obligations, all parties must refrain from making protected civilians and civilian objects, including medical facilities, personnel, and vehicles the target of attack.  We condemn indiscriminate attacks and remind all parties of their obligation to observe the principles of necessity, proportionality, distinction, and humanity.

In conclusion, we underscore our firm belief that all States have clear international obligations to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms and in situations of armed conflict to comply with international humanitarian law.  These obligations are inextricably intertwined with the promotion of freedom and the protection of innocent victims of armed conflict.  Those responsible for crimes against the Syrian people must be held accountable.  Bashar al-Asad flagrantly disregarded these obligations.  He has lost all legitimacy and must step aside.  As Secretary Kerry has said, all people deserve freedom and the opportunity to live in peace with dignity and justice.  The United States is steadfastly committed to helping the Syrian people achieve their goal of creating a society founded on those principles.