We are appalled by the horrendous humanitarian and human rights situation that High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos described to the members of the Council today.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights has reported that more than sixty thousand Syrian citizens have been killed in the 22-month crisis that started with peaceful demonstrations, crushed by the brutal repression of the Syrian authorities. This appalling death toll surpasses the worst assessments previously made and continues to skyrocket. Mrs Pillay denounced an increasing trend of crimes against humanity and war crimes mainly committed by the Syrian regime. She has consistently called for an ICC referral and repeated this position today.
Countries from around the world have been united in condemning the human rights violations taking place in Syria. The United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council have repeatedly condemned the continuing violence in Syria and called for the Syrian regime to put an immediate end to such human rights violations and attacks against civilians.
In the face of such a dramatic death toll and the silence of the Security Council, we felt that we must speak out on the absolute need for accountability and to send a clear message that the international community is not turning a blind eye to the atrocities being committed in Syria. Without accountability, there will be no sustainable peace. The Syrian government has not responded to repeated calls from the international community to ensure accountability through a national procedure. We therefore believe that the ICC has a role to play. Equally, in case of a referral the Council should play a role in supporting the action of the ICC.
That is why the Swiss sent a joint letter on behalf of 58 countries, including the 5 Members of the Council represented here, namely Australia, France, Luxembourg, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, calling for the Security Council to refer the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic to the International Criminal Court. We fully support the Swiss initiative and will remain at the forefront of the international community in calling for the situation in Syria to be referred to the ICC and in ensuring that, without exception, all perpetrators of the most serious international crimes in Syria are held to account. We hope other countries will join this initiative.
Linked to this, we fully support the UN Commission of Inquiry’s call for human rights violations and abuses to be thoroughly investigated. It is important to document these atrocities for future prosecutions.
As members of the Council, we are committed to support a peaceful transition in Syria. We call on the Syrian regime to put an immediate end to all human rights violations and attacks against civilians. We call on all sides to put an end to the violence and to pursue a process of genuine political transition to meet the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Syrian people.
We deeply regret that the Security Council is not today in a position to make a referral to the ICC but we will do our utmost in the Council to uphold this call for accountability.