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Human Rights Council Special Session on Syria

Last updated: 24.08.2011 // Human Rights Council Special Session on Syria, 22.08.2011 Statement by Norway

The international community has over time become increasingly concerned over the situation in Syria. This includes the brutal and ruthless use of violence against the population, arrest campaigns, mistreatment of detained opposition supporters and lack of access to medical treatment for civilians wounded in the unrest. President Assad has made positive statements indicating willingness to meet the demands for political reform, but has failed to deliver on his promises.

Political leaders who use military force against its population lose their legitimacy. President Assad has repeatedly ignored international demands for a change of course, including from the Human Rights Council. President Assad has at this point lost legitimacy to rule the country and must step aside.

More than two thousand people, including children, are believed to have been killed and more people injured as the Syrian authorities have escalated its large scale military clamp-down on demonstrators in several cities.

Norway strongly condemns the Syrian authorities’ use of violence and killing of the civilian population. We call for an immediate end to the violence and for all possible steps to be taken to address the legitimate demands of the population.

The humanitarian situation in Syria continues to deteriorate. Norway urges the Syrian authorities to allow humanitarian assistance to enter the country.

The Syrian regime - including President Assad, regardless of whether he chooses to step aside now – continues to be legally responsible for its treatment of the Syrian population. The use of deadly force against peaceful protesters exercising their rights to expression and assembly and the arrest and inhumane treatment of political detainees is entirely unacceptable, and in breach of the Government’s international human rights obligations. As noted in the recently published report of the Fact-finding Commission, the events that have unfolded in Syria may amount to crimes against humanity. Unlawful acts of violence on the scale observed in Syria must not go unpunished. The responsible must be held accountable.

On this background, we join the call for the establishment of an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate violations of international human rights law in Syria since July 2011 and to identify those responsible with a view of ensuring that perpetrators of violations are held accountable. This new initiative is necessary as Syrian authorities, in spite of their promises of reform, are not changing their course.

Norway supports all peoples’ desire to live in a society where all human rights, including civil and political rights are safeguarded. We believe freedom of expression and assembly is a precondition for sustainable development and prosperity. Human rights defenders must be protected and supported, not attacked and prosecuted.

The will of the people must be the basis of the authority of any government.

We urge the Human Rights Council member states to send a strong and united message to the Syrian authorities on their duty to uphold the fundamental human rights for the people of Syria.

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