Human Rights Council Special Session on the deteriorating situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, and the recent situation in Aleppo

Statement by H.E. Roderick van Schreven, Ambassador, Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva. 21 October 2016.

Mr President,

As the siege on Aleppo continues, as ordinary civilians – men, women and children - are killed every day, the city has become a symbol of utter shame for all of us here in this room.

Let me be clear - the Syrian regime has the primary responsibility for the protection of its own population – and the Syrian regime will eventually be held accountable for their actions.

The shocking deliberate and indiscriminate targeting of hospitals, medical personnel, schools and essential civilian infrastructure in Eastern Aleppo by Syria and its allies, notably Russia, must end immediately.

But the enduring siege and destruction of Aleppo is also symbol of deep shame for the international communities’ inability to act, in order to put an end to the incredible human suffering.

History and future generations will judge us all.

This devastating situation in particular in Aleppo demands better international leadership. In that light this UN Human Rights Council cannot remain silent.

The primary political focus must be on the re-establishment of a full cessation of hostilities, and the rapid and immediate, safe and full humanitarian access.

We take note of the current temporary humanitarian pause as announced by the regime and Russia, but we deeply deplore the Russian veto on 8 October to the UN Security Council Resolution to restore a full cessation of hostilities and allow humanitarian access in Aleppo. We urge all parties to use the current pause to provide immediate relief to the most immediate suffering. Forced population transfers are however unacceptable and illegal.

Achieving full accountability for crimes against humanity committed in Syria is non-negotiable.

The Netherlands strongly supports the draft resolution’s call for a comprehensive and independent special inquiry into the events in Aleppo. 

In particular we welcome the resolution calling to publically identify all those who are responsible for the crimes against humanity.

Let me be clear – there is no statute of limitations and the law and courts are very patient: Justice will and must be served.

The Syrian case must be referred to the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

Thank you Mr president