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Syria - Humanitarian and Human Rights

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Statement by HE Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

25 February 2014

 

Mr President

Time is very short so I will limit my comments to the Security Council’s action last Saturday in unanimously adopting Resolution 2139, co-authored by Jordan, Luxembourg and Australia.

The resolution makes very specific demands – the lifting of sieges to allow deliveries of food and medicine, and people to be evacuated; the cessation of the deliberate and indiscriminate targeting of civilians, including through aerial bombardment and use of barrel bombs; the demilitarisation – and targeting – of medical facilities, and of schools; humanitarian access across battle lines and across borders.  The latter alone would provide relief to well over an additional one million Syrians.

The resolution is binding but will mean nothing if not implemented in full. Reports that only two days after the Resolution was adopted Syrian authorities conducted further aerial bombing directed against civilians in a town outside Damascus [al-Neshabieh] are deeply disturbing.

In Resolution 2139, the Security Council was also clear that those responsible for violations and abuses of international humanitarian and human rights law must be held to account. We must not allow the prevailing culture of impunity in Syria to continue. The Syrian authorities should immediately allow the UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry access throughout Syria.  Australia re-iterates its call for a Security Council referral to the International Criminal Court.

The primary responsibility for implementing Resolution 2139 now lies with the Syrian authorities. The opposition and other parties to the conflict must also comply. As OCHA’s Assistant Secretary-General Kang noted this morning, it is all parties who are failing to protect civilians.  The Resolution, of course, is binding on us all and we call on the international community to urge full compliance with the  Resolution and for all those with any influence with the warring parties to use that influence to achieve this.

The Council has mandated regular reporting on compliance – every 30 days. And the Council has stated clearly that there will be consequences for non-compliance.

Finally, Mr President,

While we must immediately do all we can to alleviate the Syrian humanitarian crisis, we know that the only way to end the Syrian conflict is through a comprehensive political process which leads to a genuine political transition, as outlined in the Geneva communiqué of June 2012. We call on the Syrian authorities to engage substantively – and urgently – in negotiations on a transitional governing body.  And again we urge all member states to use what influence they have to press for a political solution so that the unfathomable cruelty and barbarism affecting the Syrian people in what is the world’s biggest and most devastating humanitarian crisis can end.

Thank you.

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