High Level Panel on the Human Rights of Children in Syria

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
as delivered by Jason Mack

Human Rights Council 37th Session
Geneva, March 13, 2018

Thank you Mr. President, and thank you Ms Gilmore and Mr. Mamtzis for your remarks . The United States extends our utmost admiration for and appreciation to the panelists for their tireless advocacy on behalf of some of the most vulnerable victims of the Syrian conflict.

We applaud the courageous Syrian human rights defenders who, despite grave risks, continue to document atrocities and advocate for peace and justice.  In addition to the important work of the COI and the IIIM the international community must hear directly from Syrians.

From the beginning of this conflict seven years ago, when the Syrian government chose to meet Syrians’ peaceful demands for their human rights – including those voiced by children – with torture and killing, children have borne an unconscionable cost.  Nearly every single Syrian child seven years old or younger has been affected in innumerable physical or psychological ways.  Hundreds of thousands have lost parents and relatives.  Millions have seen their education interrupted.  Nearly half of the more than 5 million Syrian refugees are children.

And if these figures weren’t shocking enough, human rights organizations report that more than 26,000 children have been killed since 2011.  More than 4,000 are under arbitrary arrest or forcibly disappeared and nearly 2,000 children some as young as age nine, have been recruited as soldiers since 2013.  The Syrian Network for Human Rights has documented more than 500 cases of sexual violence against children, including rape,  and 162 cases of children being tortured to death in government detention centers.

Less than 40% of approved UN humanitarian convoys are able to deliver supplies, and regime supporters are removing necessary items including medical supplies and baby formula.  Children have died as a result of these removals, and the regime’s systematic surrender or starve campaign.

Every one of these ghastly numbers has the face of a child.  We’ve gathered here today to shine a light on their suffering.  We must do more to protect Syrian children and we must ensure accountability for all those who have violated their rights.

Our complete statement will be posted online.

Thank you.