For the sake of the Syrian people any use of force should be opposed

The 24th session of the Human Rights Council strongly focused on the crisis in Syri and multiple reports were submitted by experts, delegates and NGOs. Geneva International Justice presented two oral statements to highlight the grave human rights violations in Syria and called on the international community to prevent a military intervention, as the result of such a measure can be seen by devastating aftermath of Iraq invasion.

GICJ Statement under Agenda Item 3

Promotion and Protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development

On 10 September 2013, during the  Interactive Dialogue with the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Leila Zerrougui.Ms Daniela Dönges from GICJ delivered a joint statement with EAFORD and GICJ, Ms. Donges underlined the difficult situation of children in armed conflicts in particular in the case of Syria and Iraq.

Full text of the statement:

Thank you Mr President,

This is a joint statement with Geneva International Centre for Justice.
We would like to thank the Special Representative for her update and express our support for the important work she is carrying out. Madam Special Representative, your mandate has been created to serve as an independent moral voice for children affected by armed conflict.

Our NGOs are deeply concerned about the situation of the children in Syria, who endure a suffering beyond all imagination. Until now some 7,000 children have been killed and more than 740,000 become refugees. Destroyed schools and hospitals seriously undermine the children’s rights to health and education with long lasting consequences. We are alarmed by practises as described by you, with children being arrested or used as combatants. Everything must be done by the international community to ensure that a quick and political solution to the conflict will be found. Any military intervention will only add more suffering to this situation.

At the same time the international community shall not forget the children in Iraq, whose suffering has disappeared from international headlines in favour of other conflicts, although, their situation has constantly deteriorated since 2003.

Until this day health and education systems in Iraq are lying in pieces and little efforts have been undertaken to rebuild these facilities. Over 90.000 children are still missing but neither the United States nor the Iraqi authorities did help families to properly search for them. Today, 23 percent of the Iraqi people live under the poverty line. School dropout and illiteracy rates have increased. The situation makes children extremely vulnerable to violence. Since 2003 tens of thousands of girls in Iraq have been trafficked and 65 % among prostituted females are minor girls, a problem which did not exist prior to 2003.

Madam Special representative, the international community shall never forget those children affected by war. All human rights violations must be prosecuted, whenever they occur and whoever may be the responsible. We call on the United Nations to appoint a Special Rapporteur for the HR situation in Iraq as we urge the international community to find a peaceful solution for the conflict in Syria.

Thank you for your attention

GICJ Statement under Agenda Item 4

Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention

On 17 September 2013 under aenda Item 4 Ms. Dhifaf Christina Ati delivered an oral on the 17 September 2013. She highlighted the impact of military intervention on Iraq and urged the Council to oppose the proposed military intervention in Syria. She further called on the international community to address the severe human rights violations in Iraq and Syria.

Full text of the statement

Thank you Mr. President

ll States are obliged under international law, especially those contained in the Charter of the United Nations, to take all necessary action to uphold the principles of human rights and to prevent violations of international law.

The threat or use of force against the political independence or territorial integrity of the people of a sovereign State constitutes one of the most serious violations of international law. On 31 August 2013, US President addressed the public in regards to the use of force against the people of Syria and further declaring that he would do so without any lawful authorization under international law. The current threats to use force by the United States and its allies are already a serious violation of international law.

After the illegal invasion and destruction of Iraq, leading to the deaths of millions of Iraqis and the forced displacement of millions of others, the world does not need to be reminded of the  catastrophic consequences of illegal military intervention especially one that is based on false claims.

For the sake of the Syrian people and the rule of international law, the use of force against the people of Syria should be opposed. Wars, military interventions and occupations are not the answer to the grave human rights violations occurring around the world. The situation in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan are just few examples to demonstrate how the illegal use of force leads to indescribable human suffering and disregard for human rights. All the fabricated justification, notwithstanding the aggression, constitutes atrocities that must be condemned and repudiated by all those who believe in the rule of law in international relations.

The Human Rights Council and the wider international community must have a unified focus of upholding the rights of individuals all round the world in a peaceful and just manner. We therefore call on all States to demand that there be no aggression against the people of Syria and to enhance efforts aimed at a peaceful settlement of the ongoing conflict in Syria. We further request the Human Rights Council to put the questions of the situation of human rights in Iraq in its agenda as well as appoint a Special Rapporteur in Iraq.

Thank you.

Summary of the Human Rights Council debate on Syria

Syria took a very central focus in the 24th session of the Human Rights Council. The Council began with statement from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay. She warned that the number of dead in Syria stood at over 100,000 and the suffering of Syria’s civilian population had reached unimaginable levels. The use of chemical weapons now seemed to be in little doubt, even if all the circumstances and responsibilities remained to be clarified. The international community was very late to take joint action to halt the downward spiral that had gripped Syria. This was no time for States to continue to disagree on the way forward, or for geopolitical interests to override the legal and moral obligation to save lives by bringing this conflict to an end. This appalling situation cried out for international action, yet a military response or the continued supply of arms risked igniting a regional conflagration, possibly resulting in more deaths and even more widespread misery. States, together with the United Nations, must find a way to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table and halt the bloodshed.

On 16 September 2013 the Human Rights Council was presented with reports by the Special Rapporteur on Internally Displaced Persons and the Commission of Inquiry on Syria

In May 2013 CHALOKI BEYANI UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons was requested by the United Nations General Assembly to submit a report within 90 days on the “situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Syria” and to provide recommendations. This report covered the deterioration of the situation of human rights in Syria and the need to grant immediate access to the Commission of Inquiry. Among the most vulnerable of the millions of Syrians suffering in this conflict were the estimated 4.25 million persons internally displaced within the country, who without adequate shelter and humanitarian assistance would be at even greater risk with the coming of winter.

All indications suggested that humanitarian needs had risen dramatically due to large-scale displacement, as well as the destruction of infrastructure and the unravelling of public services. Patterns of displacement continued to be massive and fluid. Most internally displaced persons fled their homes without personal effects or documentation. The majority stayed with relatives, friends and host communities. Many hosting centres had received a large influx of internally displaced persons, stretching resources to the point of collapse. Gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by Government forces and dissident armed groups continued to drive mass displacement. There were concerns about the sustainability of humanitarian funding. When a political solution was reached, Syria would require support for its recovery. This would be critical to ensure that internally displaced persons could be assisted in rebuilding their lives. The right of internally displaced persons to asylum in other countries had to be affirmed. As a matter of absolute priority, for the sake of Syria and all those affected by the conflict, and for present and future generations, a peaceful international-led solution had to be found.


The Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, presenting the updated report, said that fighting raged on in Syria. Civilians across the country daily faced indiscriminate shelling and bombardment by Government forces. Many towns and villages remained besieged, while torture was systematically employed in Government detention centres. Extremist anti-Government armed groups had targeted civilians across the northern governorates and the methods of warfare used spread terror among the civilian population. The vast majority of the conflict’s casualties resulted from unlawful attacks with guns and mortars. Nevertheless, the debate had assumed new urgency following the alleged use of chemical weapons on 21 August. The Commission, while awaiting the report of the United Nations Mission to investigate allegations of the use of chemical weapons, was continuing its investigations regarding the perpetrator of the attacks and would report to the Council according to its mandate.

Over six million people were refugees or internally displaced persons. More than two million had crossed the borders, seeking safety in neighbouring countries. Millions more had left their homes, braving shelling and the dangers of the ever-present checkpoints, to seek shelter inside Syria. The Government had continued its relentless campaign of air bombardment and artillery shelling across the country. The Government should take steps to release children from detention or to transfer them to a juvenile justice system consistent with both fair trial and children’s rights. Both anti-Government armed groups and Government forces continued to launch attacks on medical personnel and hospitals. Syria had become an increasingly dangerous place for journalists to work. A disturbing pattern of harassment, arrest and detention of journalists, especially foreigners, had emerged.

Across northern Syria, there had been an upsurge in crimes and abuses committed by extremist anti-Government armed groups along with an influx of foreign fighters. Entire brigades were now made up from fighters who had crossed into Syria. Failure to bring about a settlement had allowed the conflict not only to deepen in its intransigence but also to widen – expanding to new actors and to unimaginable crimes. Supplies of weapons to all sides had enabled escalation of the conflict, and with it, jeopardised the protection of civilians. Arms transfers should not occur where there was a real risk that they would be used in the commission of crimes against humanity, violations of international humanitarian law, or war crimes. In Syria, this was a tragic reality.

Statement by the Concerned Country

Syria, speaking as the concerned country, said that the Commission of Inquiry continued to stray in the labyrinth of exaggeration and reliance on unverified reports. Syria had advised the Commission to act on the basis of truth and objectivity. More than 250 communications and documents had been provided to the Commission, but had been ignored. The Commission continued to ignore the negative effect of the unjust economic sanctions imposed on the people of Syria that had caused many economic and social crises, and the migration of Syrians to neighbouring countries.

Interactive Dialogue and General Debate about Syria

In the discussion, speakers supported the work of the Commission of Inquiry and called for it to be granted access to Syria.  They also called for full and unimpeded humanitarian access to be ensured.  Serious concern and vehement condemnations were expressed about the use of chemical weapons.  Concerns were also voiced about the manifold violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Syria, including the increase in unlawful killings, hostage-taking, enforced disappearances, torture, sexual violence, summary executions, and the deliberate targeting of hospitals and medical personnel by both sides.  Speakers also said that the growing number of refugees heavily affected their host countries who were keeping their borders open and the international community should do what it could to support them.  While some speakers noted that the human rights abuses committed by the opposition did not reach the intensity or scale of those committed by Government forces, others stated that all atrocities were to be condemned in the strongest terms.  There were numerous calls for referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.  All parties were called upon to immediately cease violence and urgently enter negotiations.  The agreement in Geneva on the placement of Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles under control and their destruction was welcomed but now had to be implemented.  Only a just and inclusive political solution could put an end to the conflict and those who supplied arms created but an illusion of victory.

Participation of GICJ at Human Rights Council Sessions

Human Rights Council - 35th regular session (6 June - 24 June 2017)

Human Rights Council - 34th regular session (27 February - 24 March 2017)

Human Rights Council - 33rd regular session (10 September - 30 September 2016)

Human Rights Council - 32nd regular session (13 June - 1 and 8 July 2016)

Human Rights Council - 31st regular session (29 February - 24 March 2016)

Human Rights Council - 30th regular session (14 September - 2 October 2015)

Human Rights Council - 29th regular session (15 June - 3 July 2015)

Human Rights Council - 22nd special session on the human rights situation in Iraq in light of abuses committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and associated groups - 1 September 2014:

Human Rights Council - 21st special session on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem - 23 July 2014:

Human Rights Council - 26th regular session (10 - 27 June 2014):

Human Rights Council - 25th regular session (3 - 28 March 2014):

Human Rights Council - 24th regular session (9 - 27 September 2013):

Human Rights Council - 23rd regular session (27 May - 14 June 2013):

Human Rights Council - 22nd regular session (25 February - 22 March 2013):

Human Rights Council - 21st regular session (10 - 28 September, 5 November 2012):

Human Rights Council - 19th regular session (27 February - 23 March 2012):

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