During its 27th session, the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) held an interactive dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, where the Chair of the Commission, Mr. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro said that he “no longer have faith that enumerating the thousands of dead and displaced will provoke [the council] to act.”

Mr. Pinheiro presented a document with 12 stories of victims including child injured in a missile attack on a school in Aleppo city, a man tortured in Damascus’ Mezzeh detention facility, and a pregnant woman left adrift after losing her husband and parents.

Once again, the representative of the Syrian Arab Republic accused the Commission of being “politicised and unprofessional” as they based their reports on interviews conducted outside Syria with people opposing the government. In its last report, the Commission stated that it continues to be denied access to the Syrian Arab Republic.

The Human Rights Council’s response

Member states expressed serious concern on the growing number of victims and the gravity of violations and crimes, reiterating their deep concern about the expansion of the war zone and the increase in the flow of arms, which contributed to the continuation of the war.

Member states found the Commission’s findings deeply troubling, including the horrors committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, public executions, the fate of persons belonging to religious and ethnic minorities and the spread of extremism.

Speakers strongly condemned the continuation of targeting of civilians and called on the international community to ask for accountability for the perpetrators of those crimes. There was a common agreement on the need to cease all hostilities, interrupt the provision of arms to all parties, and provide timely and sufficient humanitarian assistance to the victims.

The Syrian authorities were repeatedly called upon to grant the Commission immediate and unrestricted access to the country.

WILPF’s advocacy on the situation of civilian detainees

During this interactive dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry, WILPF made an oral intervention on the situation of Syrian

civilian detainees. The majority of member states have agreed with the conclusions of the Commission of Inquiry regarding detention and had a consensus on condemning torture of children. Consequently, we call on them to work together to find concrete and immediate solutions to these horrific violations.

WILPF believes that the Human Rights Council should move beyond condemnation and reporting, and take concrete steps to save the lives of tens of thousands of Syrian civilian detainees.