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Coercive measures exacerbate humanitarian crisis in Syria

UN expert says unilateral coercive measures exacerbate humanitarian crisis in Syria

DAMASCUS/GENEVA (17 May 2018) – An independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Council says an unintended consequence of unilateral sanctions on the Syrian Arab Republic is that the Syrian people are being denied urgent humanitarian needs.

“I am deeply concerned in the way that sanctions are being implemented,” said Idriss Jazairy, the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights. “It is not allowing humanitarian actors to access the humanitarian exemptions that are an option under the unilateral coercive measures being applied to Syria.”

Mr. Jazairy visited Syria from 13 to 17 May at the invitation of the Syrian Government.

The current crisis which has engulfed Syria has severely affected the economy. The GDP has fallen by two thirds, half of working age Syrians are unemployed and the value of the currency is one-tenth of what it was in 2010. The cost of food has increased eight-fold since the start of the crisis, leaving around one-third of Syrians as food-insecure.

“I do not wish to diminish the role of the conflict in creating this terrible situation,” Mr. Jazairy said, “but I emphasize that restrictive measures are only making the situation worse. The Syrian people should not have to suffer for what has become an international conflict of unbelievable complexity. All those seeking to meet basic human rights require our help, not our red tape.”

Most seriously, the lack of clarity around humanitarian exemptions have led risk-adverse banks, insurance and shipping companies, and sellers of humanitarian goods from engaging with anyone related to Syria.

“The ‘chilling effect’ resulting from over-compliance with sanctions is forcing humanitarian and economic actors to find irregular payment mechanisms which increase costs, add delays, decrease transparency and in some cases make it impossible for businesses to continue,” he said.

“The most urgent need in all sectors of Syrian society is for spare parts to keep everything from medical equipment; power and water supplies; tractors, ambulances, buses and factories functioning. The damage to the economy has a direct and indiscriminate human impact which particularly hurts the most vulnerable people.

“I also believe that all stakeholders in a position to deliver food, health, water and other human rights should be able to avail themselves of the humanitarian exemption to provide for the long-delayed realisation of human rights of the population. The experience I draw from this first visit to Syria leads me to be hopeful that there is a space for a dialogue on this matter,” the expert added.

The Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report of his findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2018.

ENDS

Mr. Idriss Jazairy was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the first Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights. He took office in May 2015. Mr. Jazairy has extensive experience in the fields of international relations and human rights with the Algerian Foreign Ministry, the UN human rights system and international NGOs. He holds a M.A. (Oxford) in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and an M.P.A. (Harvard). He also graduated from the Ecole nationale d’Administration (France). Mr. Jazairy is the author of books and of a large number of articles in the international press on development, human rights and current affairs.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page: Syrian Arab Republic


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