Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, United States

Informal Plenary Briefing by the Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry, Mr. Pinheiro, on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic

Statement by H.E. Karel J.G. van Oosterom, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations, New York, 22 February 2016

Thank you Mr. President.

I align myself with the statement made by the European Union.

First, let me thank you Mr. President for organizing this very important briefing in the General Assembly (GA), and thank you Mr. Pinheiro for your remarks, and your work which resulted in your 11th report.

The picture that you are describing about the situation in Syria is horrendous. We strongly support the work of this Commission and we welcome the fact that the commission can exchange views with the broader UN membership here in the General Assembly today. It allows to discuss the concern of many countries about the grave human rights violations in Syria.

Mr. President,

It is unacceptable that blatant human rights violations continue on the ground. International humanitarian law is being violated on a daily basis. Recent air and ground strikes by different parties have led to the targeted destruction of essential civilian infrastructure, including medical facilities and schools, killing many innocent people.

The growing number of sieges and the use of starvation as a tactic of war is appalling. The report by the Commission with the title: “Deaths in Detention” illustrates that many horrifying human rights violations – including torture, murder and summary execution – are taking place out of sight, far from the battlefield.

These violations and I quote from the report “continue to occur in near-total secrecy and are largely lost to the international public”, end of quote.

It is therefore of the utmost importance that the Commission draws attention to this, so the voices of the victims can be heard.

Mr. President,

Seven point on the way ahead:

  1. There is a strong need for accountability for all parties in the conflict that have committed mass atrocities and war crimes. As the commission stated, accountability is a process, and accountability for all crimes must form part of any political solution. We support the recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry to the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court;
  2. We therefore all parties to ensure and guarantee the delivery of humanitarian aid;
  3. We call for a cessation of the hostilities. In this regard we welcome the agreement reached this morning between the co-chairs of the Cessation Task Force of the International Syria Support Group;
  4. We call for resumption of the talks/negotiations on a political solution under the umbrella of the UN;
  5. We call upon all Member States to implement and comply with the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions;
  6. We hope that your mandate will be renewed;
  7. We need to ensure regular reporting of this Commission to the GA, if only to make the voices of the victims heard.

Mr. President, I thank you for your attention.