Genf, 17. September 2012 Rede/Interview

21st Session of the Human Rights Council, Statement by H.E. Amb. Johannes Kyrle

Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on the Situation in the Syrian Arab Republic

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Madam President,

We thank the Commission of Inquiry for its report and I associate myself with the statement of the EU.

It is with great concern that we take note of its assessment with regard to the further deterioration of the human rights situation in Syria. Austria is appalled to learn that the Government forces including the Shabbiha have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. There is also reasonable ground to believe that also anti-Government forces have committed serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

The Syrian regime must respect the legitimate desire of the Syrian people for dignity, security and justice. President Assad has lost all his legitimacy by neglecting the public’s call for reform and by deploying public security forces against civilians who don’t ask for more than their democratic rights and freedoms. We call on all parties to fully respect their obligations under International Humanitarian Law, to distinguish between civilians and combatants and to grant humanitarian actors full and unfettered access to all conflict areas. In view of the findings by the Commission we repeat our call that the situation in Syria should be referred to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
Impunity cannot be accepted.

Madam President,

Those who are the most vulnerable victims of the conflict warrant our particular attention.

We are deeply distressed to learn of the killing of 125 children since 15 February 2012, the rape and sexual assault of children and women by government forces as well as the use of children for military purposes by anti-Government armed troops. We also deplore the high number of journalists who have become victims of the conflict. 

The Commission’s work in documenting numerous cases of human rights violations is indispensable for effectively addressing impunity. Austria attaches the highest importance to this task and calls upon the Council to extend and reinforce the Commission’s mandate.

Madam President,

The international community and the United Nations must explore all available avenues to bring the parties to the negotiating table.

The appointments of Joint Special Representatives Kofi Annan and his successor, Lakhdar Brahimi, to contribute to finding a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria were important first steps. Regrettably, the parties have so far failed to respond seriously to their efforts.

In view of more than 25.000 victims, 2.5 million Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance and of more than 250.000 refugees up to date, the parties must come to realize that there is no military solution to this conflict.

I thank you.