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National statements

Statement to the UN General Assembly on the Report of the Human Rights Council - Syria

Thematic issues

  • Egypt
  • Human Rights
  • Humanitarian
  • Libya
  • Sanctions
  • Syria

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Report of the Human Rights Council

Statement by H.E. Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

Mr President

Over the last week, the world has witnessed the barbaric massacre of civilians
in Homs.

This is violence that has shocked the world.

But for over a year now, we have seen violence and human rights abuses take
place across Syria.

As we have heard from High Commissioner Pillay today, well over 5,400 people
have died.

The UN Human Rights Council has pointed to substantial evidence of gross human
rights abuses by Syria's security forces. As the High Commissioner has
noted, widespread and systematic human rights violations have not only continued
but sharply escalated.

The regime is targeting innocent civilians, including by directing heavy weaponry,
tanks, and snipers against civilians and in major population centres such as
Homs, Idlib, Hama and Deraa.

Abuses are getting worse, as Syrian people are being subjected to unjust detention,
sexual violence and torture. The reports of the torture of children are shocking
to all of us.

This must be – and is – unacceptable to the international community.

My Government is profoundly disappointed at the 4 February veto of the United
Nations Security Council's proposed resolution on Syria.

The draft resolution did not call for military action; did not call for regime
change; did not call for an arms embargo and did not even impose sanctions.

What the resolution did do – crucially – was to call for support
for the Arab League's own initiative to bring a peaceful, Syrian-led political
resolution to this crisis.

The Arab League has stood by the Syrian people and has shown great commitment
and global leadership on this crisis.

The League and – above all – the people of Syria should know, must
know, they are not alone.

Australia is united with our Arab and other international partners in our commitment
to do what we can to help.

Our support for the efforts of the Arab League is unwavering. President Assad
should co-operate fully with the Arab League, including its decision of 22 January
to facilitate a peaceful political transition in Syria.

Australia therefore welcomes calls to work with Arab partners to establish
an international support group of like-minded countries to work in concert to
support peaceful transition in Syria and the earliest end to the bloodshed.

This would be a key mechanism for coordinating international assistance to
the people of Syria, backing the diplomatic efforts of the Arab League, maintaining
pressure on the Syrian Government to immediately end the violence and of course
ensuring that this crisis remains on the agenda of the UN Security Council.

We welcome the conference anticipated by Tunisia for 24th February.

Mr President

The international community has a responsibility to act to protect the people
of Syria from this appalling violence from their own government.

Just as the people of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and many other regional countries
have now new freedoms for a more representative, democratic political life,
so the Syrian people have the right to the same opportunity.

President Assad has lost all legitimacy and has shown a complete disregard
for the rights and welfare of his own people.

The violence by his Government must end.

Mr President

Australia's own commitment to the people of Syria remains resolute. And
we will continue to provide support for the immediate humanitarian needs of
the Syrian people, including through the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

It is, of course, essential – as the High Commissioner has stated today
– that humanitarian actors be guaranteed immediate unhindered access.

In concluding, Mr President, the Australian Government believes that the international
community still has an important role to play in seeking to resolve this crisis.

Syria must remain on the agenda of the UN Security Council and we will continue
to encourage this.

We also look forward to working with the Arab League and like-mindeds on the
resolution on Syria that Egypt has foreshadowed for consideration by the General
Assembly, with a view to supporting it. Such a resolution is clearly, unambiguously
necessary.

The Australian Government firmly believes that those committing acts of violence,
human rights abuses and crimes against humanity must be held accountable for
their actions; and that the Syrian people, like the other peoples of the Arab
world, should enjoy their fundamental freedoms – rights, which as High
Commissioner Pillay has recalled today, are the rights of every human being.

Thank you.

Last Updated: 10 June 2015
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