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Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse.Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Special session on the human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic: Norwegian statement

Last updated: 02.12.2011 // The Human Rights Council adopted on 2 December 2011 a resolution on the human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic in which it established a mandate of a Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic. The resolution came at the end of a Special Session, the third to be held on Syria this year. In the resolution, adopted by 37 votes in favour, 4 votes against and 6 abstentions, the Human Rights Council strongly condemned the continued widespread, systematic and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities. The Human Rights Council recommended that the main bodies of the United Nations urgently consider the report of the Commission of Inquiry and take appropriate action. It decided to establish a mandate of a Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, once the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry ends, to monitor the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic.

Norway welcomes the report presented by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. We strongly condemn the grave human rights violations that have been exposed. The report indicates that crimes against humanity have been committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011.

Norway calls on the Syrian authorities to immediately put an end to all human rights violations, to stop any attacks against civilians, and to comply fully with its obligations under international human rights law. The authorities must protect all human rights defenders and ensure that there are no reprisals against persons who have cooperated with the International Commission of Inquiry. 

President Assad has not been able to offer any meaningful response to the democratic demands of the protesters in Syria to end the spiralling violence in the country. The President has announced several steps towards political and legal reform, but the violence and killing of civilian protesters, including women and children, has continued unrelentingly.

The roadmap to end the violence and protect civilians initiated by the League of Arab States was a promising and constructive step. Norway regrets that the Syrian authorities failed to implement the plan. In some areas of Syria, the attacks against civilians by government forces have reportedly intensified since 2 November.

Norway welcomes the recommendations in the report of the International Commission of Inquiry. In the light of the grave conclusions of the report, it is the responsibility of the international community to provide a clear and firm response to the Government of Syria. Such crimes must not go unpunished – violence must stop.

On this background, Norway views the establishment of a mandate for a special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Syria as an important step to ensure that the international community remains seized of the grave situation in the country. To establish the mandate now can ease the transition between the Commission of Inquiry and a new, more long-term monitoring and protection mechanism.

Norway furthermore supports an urgent consideration of the report by the General Assembly, the Secretary General and the Security Council to ensure the full attention and appropriate action of the international community towards the grave findings of the report and its recommendations.

The Syrian Government has not offered meaningful cooperation with the International Commission of Inquiry nor demonstrated any credible intent to conduct a national investigation into the allegations presented. Norway therefore recommends that the international community continues to pursue legal accountability for the alleged perpetrators of gross human rights violations in Syria, including through the International Criminal Court.

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