Statement by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe
U.S. Representative to the UN Human Rights Council
HRC – 23rd Session
June 14, 2013
The United States welcomes the adoption today of the resolution on the deterioration of the human rights situation in the Syria Arab Republic and the need to grant immediate access to the commission of inquiry. The resolution passed by a significant majority of the Human Rights Council membership.
The resolution had several purposes, the first of which is to press for immediate unfettered access for the commission of inquiry. The resolution welcomes the statement by the Syria Opposition Coalition of June 5, 2013 offering cooperation with the commission of inquiry in opposition-controlled areas, and denounces the Syrian authorities’ denial of access which has hampered investigation of widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights as well as violations of international humanitarian law.
Further, the resolution condemns in the strongest terms the continued widespread and systematic violence by Syrian authorities and government-affiliated shabbiha militias, as well as human rights abuses and violations of international law by all parties including anti-government armed groups. The resolution notes the finding of the commission of inquiry that the intensity and scale of the violations committed by government forces and affiliated militia are unmatched.
The United States welcomes the clarity of the resolution’s condemnation of the massacres taking place in Syria, and the denunciation of the role of foreign fighters, especially Hizbollah, fighting on behalf of the regime. Recalling the most recent urgent debate on the massacre in Al-Qusayr, the resolution condemns the influx of all foreign combatants, in particular Hizbollah, whose involvement has had a significant deleterious effect on the human rights and humanitarian situation on the ground, which has serious negative consequences for neighboring countries.
Hizbollah’s intervention on behalf of the regime is unacceptable, and could have devastating consequences for Syria and the entire region. The UN Secretary General, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the independent Commission of Inquiry have all condemned Hizbollah’s intervention. It is only appropriate that the HRC do so as well.
The desperate humanitarian situation inside Syria is deepening. Access for relief efforts is an urgent priority. The resolution we have just adopted also demands that Syrian authorities facilitate the access of humanitarian organisations to all people in need, by allowing aid agencies to use the most efficient routes and providing authorization for cross-border humanitarian operations. One week ago, the UN issued the largest appeal in its history to help those caught up in the conflict. Humanitarian agencies have estimated that over 10 million Syrians may be in need of aid by years end. With this resolution the Human Rights Council urges all donors to act rapidly to provide financial support for this enormous and essential effort.
This tragic chapter in Syria’s history began over 800 days ago with the Assad regime’s decision to meet peaceful protests with violence, a response which started this conflict that has killed more than 90,000 people. We reiterate our call, united with the Syrian people and members of the international community, for an immediate end to all violations of human rights and abuses, but especially the Assad regime’s egregious, widespread and continued violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
The international community must continue to support documentation and other efforts to lay the groundwork for accountability for human rights violations, even as work continues toward a political settlement based on the principles outlined in the Geneva Communiqué. The United States is helping Syrians prepare for this accountability by supporting the documentation of violations committed by all sides of the conflict, and bolstering the capacity of civil society organizations to build the foundations for lasting peace.
The Human Rights Council is again showing its determination and responsibility in using the authority and tools entrusted to it to respond to urgent crises in real time. It is also rightly fulfilling the important role of drawing global attention to gross violations of human rights and collecting the evidence necessary to ensure future accountability for human rights violations and crimes against humanity.