Interactive Dialogue on the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic and the Report on the Situation of Internally Displaced Persons in the Syrian Arab Republic by the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons
Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
As Delivered by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe
Human Rights Council
UN Human Rights Council – 24th Session
September 16, 2013
Thank you, Mr. President.
We welcome the report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria and thank the commission for its extremely important work.
For more than two years, the regime of Bashar Al-Asad has turned the full force of its firepower against the Syrian people, including most recently its use of chemical weapons in the Damascus suburbs on August 21. The world will not forget the horrific images of innocent children choking as they inhaled the toxic fumes, nor will we forget the more than 100,000 people who have died during this conflict.
We deplore the acceleration of civilian deaths, including from constant regime attacks during Ramadan. We equally deplore the increasing deaths due to torture in regime facilities, the continued detention of numerous human rights activists without due process, and the impact of shelling on civilians. We echo the Commission’s recommendations for the government to cease these violations and grant unfettered Commission access to Syria.
We reiterate the need for accountability for the violations and abuses committed in Syria and call on the international community to support such efforts. We also call on the Syrian people to refrain from acts of retributive violence and to focus on building a sustainable peace that includes justice and accountability.
Thanks to our efforts to make the Asad regime answerable for its illegal use of chemical weapons, discussions are once again underway in Geneva. We are deeply committed to a political process to bring about a negotiated settlement, based on the framework agreed to in the Geneva Communiqué. Asad long ago lost his legitimacy and must step down.
As we work with Syrians and the international community towards a political settlement, what additional work can be undertaken now to prepare for justice and accountability efforts?
The United States also welcomes the Special Rapporteur’s report on the situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Syrian Arab Republic. We are deeply concerned by the growing numbers of IDPs, who are largely women, children, and the elderly. We share the SR’s concern about Palestinian refugees in Syria, at least 50 percent of whom have been displaced, including more than 54,000 children. As the largest humanitarian donor, totaling over $1 billion, we will continue to stand by those most affected by the conflict and in desperate need of assistance. We encourage all Member States to generously fund the UN appeals.
Gross violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law by Government forces, as well as other armed groups, are clearly inconsistent with the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. We condemn the indiscriminate attacks against civilians and the massive destruction of homes and are deeply concerned by the disruption in basic services, including water, health care, and sanitation, which is leading many Syrians to flee their homes in search of livelihoods and access to basic needs.
Humanitarian access within Syria is constrained, making it difficult for humanitarian organizations to reach IDPs in need of assistance. We urge the Government of Syria and all parties to the conflict to facilitate full, immediate, safe, and unhindered access for UN and other humanitarian partners to deliver assistance.
Given the increasing restrictions on entry imposed by some neighboring states, we are concerned about the right of Syrians to seek asylum in other countries. We urge all governments in the region to keep their borders open to those seeking refuge.