12 March 2019
The Human Rights Council in a midday meeting held an interactive dialogue with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic.
Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Chairperson of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, reminded that an agreement between Turkey and the Russian Federation to establish a demilitarized zone in the north-west of Syria had averted the looming all-out military assault on Idlib. A reduction in fighting as a consequence of the Government’s recapturing vast swaths of territory in 2018 did not mean that the conflict was over, Mr. Pinheiro warned. Armed conflict was only one aspect of the multifaceted predicament facing Syria’s displaced population. Persecution, discrimination and other forms of ill-treatment continued, as well as arbitrary arrests and detentions. Military objectives were placed above civilian governance by all parties to the conflict creating a vacuum of the rule of law in parts of the country. Lack of security, of the rule of law, of access to basic services, of reconstruction, and of overall prospects undermined the feasibility of safe and sustainable return, Mr. Pinheiro concluded.
Karen Koning Abuzayd, Member of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, stressed that those that fled their homes needed support to return. The human rights of women had to be given appropriate attention. Assistance to refugees that were outside Syria had to be provided, and this included assistance to countries hosting refugees.
Hanny Megally, Member of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, thanked the continuing support of States for the International, Impartial, Independent Mechanism on Syria and the Commission on Inquiry on Syria. Information sharing was encouraged between the two organizations, as well as with States that were willing to use national and universal jurisdiction.
Syria, speaking as the concerned country, noted that the debate was a clear example of politicized practice and that the Council was once again being used for geopolitical purposes. In such a climate, and with resolutions imposed during each session, it was no surprise that the Commission of Inquiry was undertaking a campaign to encourage internally displaced people to return home. The Commission’s report was selective in terms of its sources. Turkey was the occupying power which helped to spread terrorism in Syria, and despite that the Commission portrayed it in positive light. The Syrian Government was trying to protect its people from terrorism. Terrorist groups used terror as a weapon of war and armed militias threatened the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. Two humanitarian corridors had opened to help civilians, but the United States and terrorists were preventing civilians from fleeing.
In the ensuing discussion, speakers condemned all systematic human rights violations that Syrians civilians were subjected to. The findings of the Commission were extremely concerning, highlighting a general vacuum of the rule of law as well as a security vacuum. Speakers underscored the need for reaching a political solution to the conflict in Syria that would preserve its unity and stability, and would allow refugees to return home. They drew attention to the suffering of Syrian refugees, noting that the international community had to shoulder responsibility for them. They urged the Council to extend the mandate of the Commission and welcomed the victim-oriented approach of the Commission and attention paid to transitional justice. Some speakers noted that the Commission’s report attempted to describe the situation in Syria, but that it ignored all those who were providing weapons and training, and financing terrorists. Outside powers were responsible for thousands of victims by providing weapons and financing logistics as part of a regime change, but the report ignored that aspect. An adequate solution for Syria should take into its account sovereignty, self-determination and territorial integrity.
Speaking were Finland (also on behalf of Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), European Union, Kuwait, Spain, Estonia, Sudan, Israel, Liechtenstein, Brazil, Belgium, Germany, Croatia, Jordan, Iraq, United Nations Women, Czech Republic, Qatar, Egypt, Australia, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, France, Chile, Italy, Netherlands, Belarus, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Ireland, Iran, Bahrain, China, Georgia, Albania, Romania, Greece, Malta, Turkey, Japan, Ecuador, Slovakia, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, United Kingdom, Cyprus and Maldives.
The following civil society organizations also took the floor: Physicians for Human Rights, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Union of Arab Jurists, Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme, The Palestinian Return Centre Ltd, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture, and Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”.
The Council will next hold an interactive dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi.
The Council has before it the Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (A/HRC/40/70).
Presentation of Report by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria
PAULO SERGIO PINHEIRO, Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, informed the Council that comments prepared by the Permanent Representative of Syria to the United Nations Office had been shared with the Commission and that its members were ready to discuss the issues raised. Mr. Pinheiro reminded that the international community in September 2018 had expected the situation in Idlib to exacerbate further. Fortunately, an agreement between Turkey and the Russian Federation to establish a demilitarized zone in the north-west of Syria had averted that looming all-out military assault and it had led to a significant reduction in violence during the latter half of the year. Nevertheless, the majority of some three million desperate civilians continued to live under the oppressive rule of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham terrorists, who were now largely in control of Idlib. Over the past recent months, discussions on the feasibility of the safe and sustainable return for Syrian women, men and children had gained momentum. Calls had come from the Syrian Government and from countries in which those displaced had sought and found refuge. The numbers of those displaced remained staggering: 6.2 million persons internally displaced and 5.6 million refugees. The crucial question surrounding those displaced also fundamentally remained, namely if after eight years of unbridled chaos, conditions on the ground were conducive for the displaced to return home in safety and dignity, and whether they would be able to participate meaningfully in shaping a peaceful future.
A reduction in fighting as a consequence of the Government’s recapturing vast swaths of territory in 2018 did not mean that the conflict was over, Mr. Pinheiro warned. Bombs were still falling and civilians continued to pay with their lives for the objectives of the parties to the conflict. The Commission recognized the right of Governments to combat terrorism, but attacks by pro-Government forces in Idlib and western Aleppo, and those carried out by the Syrian Democratic Forces and the international coalition in Dayr al-Zawr, continued to cause scores of civilian casualties. Violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law by all sides remained rampant, creating multiple security vacuums, and thus were fertile soil for future escalations. Armed conflict, however, was only one aspect of the multifaceted predicament facing Syria’s displaced population. Persecution, discrimination and other forms of ill-treatment continued in Idlib, Douma, Dara’a and northern Homs. Arbitrary arrests and detentions continued in Government controlled areas, notably executions and deaths in detention, with the ad hoc and anti-terror courts of the Syrian Government. Makeshift justice mechanisms of armed groups and terrorist organizations also unlawfully detained or kidnapped civilians in Idlib and Afrin for expressing political dissent or for ransom. In a new development in 2018, the Syrian Government had provided information in bulk on the deaths of thousands of detained and missing persons. The Commission had issued in November 2018 a policy paper on the “death notifications” and on the rights of families to know the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones who had languished for years in detention or had perished in custody.
Mr. Pinheiro reminded that military objectives were placed above civilian governance by all parties to the conflict creating a vacuum of the rule of law in parts of the country. While blatant human rights violations continued, other elements aggravated the daily survival of Syrian civilians, which would invariably affect the feasibility of potential returns. Civilians subsisting in areas recently retaken by the Government forces struggled to survive, as essential services, including potable water, food and healthcare, were not available. All too often, humanitarian access to the most vulnerable had been unduly restricted. The Commission emphasized the continuing dire situation in Rukban camp in the southern desert. After almost five years, 41,000 encamped inhabitants, predominantly women and children, remained confined in a wasteland amid desperate conditions. Another factor impeding the prospect for civilian return was the lack of official civil documentation in areas controlled by armed groups, related to births, deaths and property transactions. That had the potential to result in widespread discrimination and the exclusion of women and girls who had faced barriers traditionally, to secure tenure and inheritance rights. Lack of security, of the rule of law, of access to basic services, of reconstruction, and of overall prospects undermined the feasibility of safe and sustainable return, Mr. Pinheiro concluded.
The representative of Syria was not present in the room to take the floor.
Finland, speaking also on behalf of Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, remained deeply concerned by the flagrant disregard for international law and systematic abuse and violation of human rights overwhelmingly perpetrated by the Syrian regime. They urged the Council to address the widespread use of sexual and gender based violence, including the use of rape in detention, and the challenges in accessing civil documentation, education and medical care, particularly for women and children. They supported the extension of the mandate. European Union said the Commission of Inquiry and the International, Impartial, Independent Mechanism on Syria played a vital role in promoting accountability and ensuring impunity did not prevail, highlighting the lack of the rule of law in territories recently retaken by government forces, where arbitrary detention and disappearances were widespread. Kuwait condemned all systematic human rights violations that Syrians civilians were subject to and called for access by humanitarian actors. It urged the international community to adopt a renewed strategy to come to a political solution which met the needs and expectations of the Syrian people.
Spain lamented the fact that none of the parties involved in the conflict had met their responsibilities in ensuring that civilian rights were upheld. Accountability in Syria was a sine qua non for conflict resolution and should be found in front of the International Criminal Court. Estonia said that although the demilitarised buffer zone for Idlib had led to a decrease in tensions, hostilities persisted in other parts of the country where there was a complete absence of the rule of law. Estonia called for the immediate disclosure of the fates of detained, disappeared and missing individuals. Sudan said the Government of Syria had made progress in upholding peace and stability in the country despite the flagrant interference from outside forces. Security should be guaranteed by maintaining State sovereignty and through the removal of international troops and western powers which were contributing to instability in the region.
Israel noted that unlike other Commissions of Inquiry, the one on Syria was a necessity, justified by the sheer gravity of events it was mandated to investigate. Iran’s increasing military presence in Syria put the human rights of all residents in jeopardy; as did its subversive aggression in other parts of the Middle East. Liechtenstein stressed that an entire region had been destabilized by an armed conflict characterized by the direct involvement of foreign factors. How could international cooperation be further strengthened under universal jurisdiction in order to hold perpetrators accountable? Brazil noted that the Commission was fundamental in promoting accountability for all violations and that all sides in Syria had to cooperate with it. Concerns over the situation in Idlib persisted, as well as over Afrin, Hajin and the Rukban camp for internally displaced persons.
Belgium stressed that humanitarian access, protection of civilians and durable solutions were closely intertwined, and the best solution for refugees was their safe and voluntary return. Unfortunately, there were no conditions in place. Germany was alarmed by findings on attacks on Idlib, Aleppo, Dayr al Zawr and Suwayda governorates; attacks of pro-government forces as well as by extremist organizations such as Islamic State were condemned. Germany supported the independent mechanism politically, as well as financially through a voluntary contribution of 1 million euros per year. Croatia regretted attacks against the demilitarized zone in the north-west of Syria that had resulted in the death of numerous civilians. Croatia was worried about recent information concerning an alleged chemical attack in Aleppo in which over 100 civilians were reportedly injured.
Jordan underscored the need for reaching a political solution to the conflict in Syria that would preserve its unity and stability, which would allow refugees to return home. Jordan drew attention to the suffering of Syrian refugees, noting that the international community had to shoulder responsibility for them. Iraq was distressed about the loss of human life, the desperate situation in refugee camps, and the destruction in Syria. Iraq deplored the foreign intervention in Syria and underlined the need to preserve the integrity of the country; it urged the Commission to identify the perpetrators of human rights violations in Syria. UN Women drew attention to documenting violations of women’s and girls’ human rights in Syria. Economic hardship forced many families, particularly female-headed households, to withdraw their daughters from school and to subject them to early or forced marriage.
Czech Republic condemned in the strongest terms the ongoing serious violations of human rights in Syria, especially arbitrary detention and abductions. It agreed that the current situation in Syria undermined the feasible return of displaced persons and refugees, and that any plans for their return had to be made in line with a rights-based approach. Qatar strongly condemned the decision of the Syrian authorities to prevent the Commission to visit the country. The main problem was the obstinacy of the Syrian Government to recognize the will of its people; Qatar underlined that the Syrian people were the victims of their own Government. Egypt stressed that Syrian civilians were impacted most by the conflict, and it called for the restoration of infrastructure and services for civilians. A durable and sustainable solution to the conflict in Syria could not be reached if any ethnic or sectarian affiliations were favoured.
Australia supported the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons and called on those responsible for their use in the conflict to be held to account and for the Syrian Government to make all efforts to create favourable conditions for the safe return of displaced persons, including by engaging substantively in a credible political process in line with resolution 2254. It asked the Commission whether a meaningful accountability process was a precondition for the return of Syrians displaced by the conflict. Russian Federation noted that the report was not objective and sought to advance the political interests of other countries, including through the groundless accusations on the use of fictitious chemical weapons. The Council served the interests of its sponsors, and used the activities of terrorists to bring this about. Saudi Arabia said the report gave an accurate depiction of suffering in Syria at the hands of the Government and stated that the continued deterioration in all areas of the conflict, air bombings and the expulsion of 1 million Syrians from their homes showed that the authorities were deliberately changing the demographic makeup of the country. It called for a political settlement to the Syrian crisis in line with resolution 2254.
Venezuela deplored the loss of life due to the conflict and reiterated its solidarity with the people and Government of Syria and its support for any initiative for meaningful dialogue to bring an end to the violence. It regretted the manipulation of information by international media and supported the self-determination and territorial sovereignty of Syria. France said that although the last territories of Da’esh were reclaimed, it would be a mistake to think that the suffering of the Syrian people had ended as over 12 million Syrians were still in need of humanitarian aid. Documentation was paramount in a time where some powers called for the normalization of relations and impunity, the conditions for the safe and sustainable return of civilians were not in place, and only full and meaningful engagement with resolution 2254 would make this possible. Chile condemned all human rights violations perpetrated by all parties to the conflict, highlighting that forced disappearances, detention, torture and abductions were of particular concern. Some 5.6 million refugees and several million internally displaced persons needed a roadmap for safe and sustainable return, in line with a rights based approach.
Italy strongly supported the work of the new Special Envoy, Geir Pederson, to facilitate a political process that would lead to a negotiated durable outcome for the conflict, pursuant to Security Council resolution 2254. The findings of the Commission were extremely concerning, highlighting a general vacuum of the rule of law and a dire reality for civilians countrywide. Netherlands urged the Council to extend the mandate of the Commission, and welcomed the victim-oriented approach of the Commission and the attention paid to transitional justice. How could Syria be held accountable for the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations and what should minimum standards for independent monitoring be? Belarus said that the report was an attempt to describe the situation in Syria, but it ignored all those who were providing weapons and training, and financing terrorists. Belarus always advocated for a solution that would take into account sovereignty, self-determination and territorial integrity.
Cuba reiterated its support for a negotiated solution in Syria which would take into account its sovereignty, self-determination and territorial integrity. Outside powers were responsible for thousands of victims by providing weapons and financing logistics as part of regime change, but the report did not highlight that. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea stressed that the human rights of Syrians could only be guaranteed when terrorism was eliminated. The Council was called on to end the politicized approach towards Syria and discontinue the mandate of the Commission. Switzerland noted with great concern that seven years of conflict had destroyed the rule of law in Syria and had created a security vacuum. The fight against terrorists could not justify violations of international law and the situation of women and children, particularly in Rukban camp, was alarming.
Ireland was deeply concerned about the widespread abductions, arbitrary arrests, and continued attacks on civilians, including on medical infrastructure. Ireland called for an immediate stop of hostilities and underlined the need for accountability for crimes committed, arguing that Syria had to be referred to the International Criminal Court. Iran said that Syria had become an example where terrorist armed groups, notably Daesh, Al Nusra Front, and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, financed by certain States inside and outside the country, were actively engaged in committing crimes against humanity. The Syrian Government had succeeded in defeating the menace of violence and extremism which could swallow the whole region.
Statement by Syria as the Concerned Country
Syria, speaking as the concerned country, said that the debate today was a clear example of politicized practice. The Council was again being used to promote geopolitical agendas that had nothing to do with human rights. In such a politicized climate, combined by resolutions imposed on every session, it was no surprise that the Commission was undertaking a campaign to encourage internally displaced people to go home. Undermining national institutions was the goal of terrorist groups. The mandate of the Commission of Inquiry was not recognized by Syria. The Government was continuously targeted by the Council. The report did not seek to establish the premise of international law and was selective in terms of sources, thus it violated the United Nations Charter. Turkey was the occupying power which helped to spread terrorism in Syria. The rights of civilians were being violated. Despite that, the Commission portrayed it in a positive light. There was a host of examples to show this. There were human rights violations ignored by the Commission. The Syrian Government was trying to protect people from terrorism. Terrorist groups used terror as a weapon of war and armed militias threatened the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. The report did not mention legal structures established in the regions where terrorists were present. White helmets were connected to Al Nusra front. The Commission was falsifying truth. Two humanitarian corridors were opened to help civilians, but the United States and terrorists were preventing civilians from fleeing. Syria asked the Council not to renew the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry.
PAULO SERGIO PINHEIRO, Chairperson of the United Nations Human Rights Council Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria, welcomed the opportunity to meet with the Syrian Arab Republic’s Permanent Representative. In response to the Iraqi representative, Mr Pinheiro reiterated he was completely against economic sanctions on Syria. The Commission was against these unilateral actions as they hurt innocent members of society, not the perpetrators. In response to the Australian delegation’s question on the right to return, he said that the Commission was not against the principle of return. The only pre conditions were that return had to be the decision of returnees, and the safety and security of these returnees must be guaranteed. The Commission was not against recovery or reconstruction as had been suggested. In responding to the Belarusian delegation, he agreed that sanctions were not an effective approach. Addressing their question about investigating who was responsible for arming the groups, Mr. Pinheiro stated that it was not in the Commission’s mandate to do so. This question must be addressed to the Security Council.
KAREN KONING ABUZAYD, Member of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, stressed that those that fled their homes needed support to return. The human rights of women had to be given appropriate attention. Assistance to refugees that were outside Syria had to be provided, and this included assistance to countries hosting refugees. The Commission supported the work of the International, Impartial, Independent Mechanism on Syria, as well as a political solution of the conflict, in line with Security Council resolution 2254. Efforts of the Special Envoy, Geir Pederson, were also supported.
HANNY MEGALLY, Member of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, thanked the continuing support of States for the International, Impartial, Independent Mechanism on Syria and the Commission on Inquiry on Syria. Information sharing was encouraged between the two organizations, as well as with States that were willing to use national and universal jurisdiction. Support for Syrian groups that were doing documentation on the ground to bring perpetrators to justice had to be provided.
Bahrain expressed concern about the situation of those displaced in light of renewed fighting in Homs and Aleppo, which disproportionately affected women. It called on all parties to abide by international humanitarian law and allow access to deliver humanitarian aid. China said that a political solution was the only way to attain lasting peace in Syria, and that all parties should stick to a political process led by Syria. Discussions on the human rights of Syrian civilians should respect the sovereignty of Syria. Georgia was concerned about the impunity for grave violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law committed by the Assad regime and affirmed its support for the establishment of an International, Impartial, Independent Mechanism on Syria to which it had been contributing financially.
Albania noted with satisfaction the recommendations contained in the report and remained concerned that any repatriation process should rest on the full guarantee of the human rights if returning Syrians. It highlighted the importance of investing in basic infrastructure in the reconstruction of Syria so that both lasting peace and access to basic needs were met. Romania condemned the widespread and systematic violations and abuses against the civilian population which undermined the possibilities for millions of internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their homes. It called for the rapid, safe and unhindered access to humanitarian and medical relief for civilians to be guaranteed. Greece stressed the need for practical, peace oriented measures to be adopted to end hostilities and to enable, in due time, the safe, voluntary and dignified return of displaced persons, including those who fled Afrin. It highlighted the consequences that extremism brought upon the Syrian population and the brunt born by religious minorities, including Christians, which should not be forgotten when talking about accountability.
Malta regretted that the continued use of arbitrary detentions and abductions of civilians in Idlib and Aleppo persisted. They regretted the continued violations of human rights in Syria, and agreed with the report’s conclusions that any plans for the return of those displaced both within and outside of Syria must incorporate a rights based approach. Turkey stated that contrary to the report of the Commission, it had been exercising its right to self-defence in Afrin and beyond in accordance with article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Turkey regretted that the Commission’s latest report misrepresented the facts on the ground, especially regarding the aftermath of Operation Olive Branch. Japan stated that it had provided more than $2.5 billion in assistance to Syria and neighbouring countries since 2012. The use of chemical weapons could not be tolerated under any circumstances and should be condemned.
Ecuador condemned the lack of rights that 6.2 million internally displaced persons and 5.6 million Syrian refugees suffered from. Ecuador regretted the violations of human rights, international law and international criminal law, regardless of the perpetrators, and called for the strengthening of a political and diplomatic resolution to the conflict. Slovakia called on all parties to abandon the practice of forced disappearances and arbitrary detention. They expressed their full support for national and international measures to fight impunity and to bring perpetrators to justice. United Arab Emirates had extended significant assistance to establishing camps inside Syria as well as Lebanon, Jordan and Greece, with the provision of education, shelter and food. Given the dire humanitarian situation, they called on the international community to press for a political and diplomatic end to the conflict.
Algeria condemned all violations and infringements of human rights and said that populations in areas most recently reclaimed by the Government lacked basic services and were in an increasingly precarious situation. Only an inter-Syrian dialogue with the goal of promoting peace and security could sustainably solve this crisis. United Kingdom noted that those most likely to be victims of arbitrary detention included activists, civil defence volunteers, and those perceived to be opposition supporters. This aggravated the legitimate fears of Syrian internally displaced persons and refugees hoping to return home safely.
Cyprus condemned the continued practice of arbitrary arrests, forced disappearances, torture, and sexual and gender based violence against detainees, and expressed grave concern about the situation in Afrin. A rights based approach should be taken for the safe and peaceful return of internally displaced persons and refugees. Maldives expressed concern about the widespread and systematic violation of human rights in Syria. It thanked the staff of the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other organisations for their commitment and dedication in the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the thousands of civilians in need.
Physicians for Human Rights said the systematic targeting of health facilities and personnel was a specific strategy by the Syrian Government and its allies, particularly Russia. They asked the Commission to call for an immediate end to this practice, and for the perpetrators to be held accountable. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom said the armed conflict in Syria had disproportionally affected women, as the war had exacerbated the structural inequalities that already existed in the Syrian society. Any funding for reconstruction should be contingent on certain benchmarks, as well as relevant resolutions, such as resolution 2254 being observed. Union of Arab Jurists said that the Commission was politically motivated and had ignored information on the terrorist groups that had acted against the legitimate Syrian Government. It also ignored the funding and arming of militias from the United Arab Emirates.
Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme said the legitimate Syrian Government had been under persistent attack from groups with funding from the Gulf. The Syrian Government remained committed to liberating all Syrian lands, including the Syrian Golan area. The Palestinian Return Centre Ltd stated that the displaced Palestinians in northern Syria were among the worst affected refugees in the country. They called on the Turkish Government to replace the tents in the camps with more robust housing to improve their living conditions. International Federation for Human Rights Leagues believed that impunity was one of the root causes of the conflict, and if not implemented urgently it would undermine the trust needed to reach a political settlement. They called for a commission to be established to investigate the disappeared.
Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture opposed the interference of certain countries in the Syrian conflict, in violation of the United Nations Charter. The unilateral sanctions and financing of terrorism by some countries hampered the country’s path towards peace. Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru” expressed its solidarity with the plight of the Syrian people against the dark forces of terrorism orchestrated and financed by the oil-rich countries and Western powers. The Arab Spring and non-violent revolution were part of the geopolitical strategy of Western powers; the neo-colonial powers of the West were responsible for the attacks on the Syrian people.
PAULO SERGIO PINHEIRO, Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, noted that the Commission was not in a position to verify the estimates provided by other groups. In response to Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru,” Mr. Pinheiro clarified that the reports of the Commission were based exclusively on its investigations. It was a joke to say that the Commission’s reports were based on newspaper clips. The Commission agreed entirely with Lakhdar Brahimi that the warring parties did not take into account the real interest of the Syrian people. The Commission did not take any sides. The international community needed to recognize the resilience of the Syrian people inside Syria. The Syrian people and civil society deserved that the appalling situation in their country be brought to an end. Syrian refugees should be able to return home in safety and dignity.
For use of the information media; not an official record