Human Rights Council Session 42 - Statement of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on the Syrian Arab Republic – Item 4

Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic.

Thank you Mr. President,

The Kingdom of the Netherlands aligns itself with the statement of the European Union and wishes to express its deepest appreciation for the work of the Commission of Inquiry, and calls on parties to cooperate fully with – and grant access to - the Commission.

Although the escalation of violence in the Northwest follows an increasingly familiar pattern, the world should not grow numb to this reckless disregard for human life. The purported attacks on de-conflicted facilities and populated areas have resulted in the complete destruction of civilian infrastructure, thousands of civilian casualties and mass displacement to areas that are already over-stretched.

We call upon all parties to respect the ceasefire and want to remind the Syrian regime and its allies that nothing absolves a state from its duty to protect civilians and abide by international law. It is of utmost importance that those responsible for violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law in Syria will be held to account. In this regard, we welcome the establishment of the Board of Inquiry. But, given the fragility of the situation, all of us should ask ourselves, once again, what more should be done to end this seemingly perpetual, indescribable human suffering.

Furthermore, we are deeply concerned about the aspect of gendered harms that the Commission speaks of in its report and that the whereabouts of tens of thousands of Syrians, detained, missing or forcibly disappeared, remain unknown. Systemic sexual and gender based violence, torture of detainees, it all remains common practice. The Syrian regime operates with little or no regard for humanitarian or human rights law. It blatantly disregards the human rights of its own citizens, who fear violence, forced conscription, illegal detention, and expropriation of their property. How, under such circumstances, can anyone talk about safe, voluntary and dignified return?

Distinguished members of the Commission,

Do you have any recommendations concerning the obtaining and collecting of information on the missing and detained - for the sake of their loved ones, but also for the sake of accountability and maybe eventually transitional justice?

Thank you.