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Groups urge UN human rights council session on Syria

August 9, 2011

24 groups urge UN human rights council emergency session on Syria, hearings, investigator

GENEVA - An international coalition of human rights and church relief organizations are urging the UN's 47-member Human Rights Council to "end its silence on the atrocities now being committed by the Syrian regime." The groups are calling for the council to convene an emergency session on the bloody crackdown, hold televised hearings in Geneva for victims to testify, and create a special investigator into rights violations by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Led by UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights advocacy group, the appeal was submitted in a letter today to council president Laura Dupuy Lasserre, signed by 24 non-governmental, humanitarian and church groups from Australia, Burkina Faso, DR Congo, France, Germany, India, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Switzerland, Uganda, the US and Vietnam.

The NGOs criticized the council for holding only one meeting on Syria more than three months ago, saying the UN body had "failed to take prompt or effective action to protect the victims of Syrian mass killings."

"It's wrong for the world's top human rights body to turn a blind eye to Syria's massacre of its own people, whether in Hama, Deir al-Zour, Idlib, Binnish or elsewhere," said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.

The majority of the council, including African, Asian and Islamic states, generally oppose "naming and shaming" countries. Influential members China, Russia, and Cuba have defended Syria at the council. Brazil, India and South Africa blocked strong action by the Security Council in New York.

"When the UN allows power politics to trump human rights, the Assad regime gets a free pass to commit mass murder in broad daylight," said Neuer.

The NGO appeal also called on the council to hold the Syrian military and political leadership personally accountable for alleged "crimes against humanity."


Urgent NGO Appeal to End Syria’s Ramadan Massacre

Request for UN Human Rights Council Emergency Session
to Create Special Rapporteur and Conduct Public Hearings

H. E. Laura Dupuy Lasserre
President, Human Rights Council
United Nations
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10

Aug. 9, 2011

Dear Madam President,

We, an international coalition of non-governmental and human rights organizations, urge the UN Human Rights Council to end its silence on the atrocities now being committed by the Syrian regime against its own people, known as the Ramadan Massacre.

It is unconscionable for the world’s top human rights body—which is pledged, under UNGA Resolution 60/251, to prevent human rights violations and respond promptly to human rights emergencies—to continue turning a blind eye to the state-sponsored massacre of civilians.

In the past week alone, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has taken the lives of 200 innocent men, women and children in Hama, and dozens more in Deir al-Zour.

We are deeply concerned that the council has failed to take prompt or effective action to protect the victims of Syrian mass killings. We regret that the council waited during months of bloodshed, while more than 400 were killed, before it held a single meeting in April. Although Syria was eventually condemned at that meeting, there has been no meaningful follow-up action for the victims.

We therefore call on the council now to use all measures at its disposal to end the bloodshed. Inter alia, we recommend:

1. The council should exercise its responsibilities under Resolution 60/251 and immediately convene an emergency Special Session on the Syrian massacres in Hama, Deir al-Zour and elsewhere.

2. The council should strongly condemn Syria for its gross and systematic violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the right to life.

3. Given the inability of the High Commissioner’s fact-finding mission to enter Syria, the council should request the mission to conduct public hearings at the United Nations office in Geneva, featuring live, televised testimony by victims of the Syrian massacres, some of whom have escaped to neighboring countries. The global pressure generated by such hearings would constitute a golden opportunity for the council to make a concrete and effective contribution toward ending the killings.

4. The Council should end the protection gap by appointing a Special Rapporteur on the grave situation of human rights in Syria. This independent investigator, acting as an early warning mechanism for the international community, should report to both the council and the General Assembly, delivering initial reports to the upcoming September sessions of both bodies. The monitoring should last until Syria’s repressive Baath Party rule is replaced by a democratic government that respects basic human rights.

5. The council should take action to hold the Syrian military and political leadership personally accountable for crimes against humanity.

We respectfully request that this joint NGO appeal be circulated among the 47 member states of the council, as well as among all observer states and other stake-holders.


1. Hillel C. Neuer, Executive Director, United Nations Watch, Switzerland
2. Ali Al Ahmed, The Gulf Institute
3. Art Kaufman, Senior Director, World Movement for Democracy
4. Don Kraus, Chief Executive Officer, Citizens for Global Solutions
5. Afton Beutler, Worldwide Organization for Women, Switzerland
6. Shomik Chaudhuri, Institute of International Social Development, India
7. Amina Bouayach, President, Moroccan Human Rights Organization (OMDH)
8. Nguyên Lê Nhân Quyên, Vietnamese League for Human Rights, Switzerland
9. Anki Flores, Anti-Racism Information Service, Switzerland
10. Duy Hoang, Viet Tan, Vietnam
11. Jean Stoner, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, USA
12. Sr Marlette Black, International Presentation Association, Australia
13. Tashi Albertini, President, Associazione Ticino Tibet, Switzerland
14. Judea Pearl, The Daniel Pearl Foundation, USA
15. Dickson M. David Ntwiga, Solidarity House International, Kenya
16. Gibreil I. M. Hamid, Darfur Peace and Development Centre, Switzerland
17. Jacqueline Kasha, Freedom and Roam Uganda & Sexual Minorities Uganda
18. Siaka Coulibaly, Executive Secretary, Civil Society Organizations Network for Development(RESOCIDE), Burkina Faso
19. François Ullmann, President, Ingénieurs du Monde, France
20. Heritiers de la Justice, Service des Eglises Protestantes pour les Droits de l'Homme et la Paix, Democratic Republic of Congo
21. Achut Prasad Gautam, Secretary, Nepal International Consumers Union
22. Phil ya Nangoloh, Executive Director, NamRights, Windhoek, Namibia
23. Ulrich Delius, Society for Threatened Peoples, Germany
24. Maiga Djingarey, Femmes et Droits humains (Women and Human Rights), Mali


UN Watch is a Geneva-based human rights organization founded in 1993 to monitor UN compliance with the principles of its Charter. It is accredited as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Special Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and as an Associate NGO to the UN Department of Public Information (DPI)

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