WILPF joins Amnesty International and other NGO’s in demanding that there be a general ceasefire in Syria and that the Syrian government comply with its obligations under international law.
The doctrine of the responsibility to protect prioritises the role of the regional mechanisms in addressing situations which fall under pillar three, ie to take “timely and decisive” action to prevent and halt mass atrocities when a State is “manifestly failing” to protect its populations. Hence the role of the Arab League is vital. The League has requested the Security Council authorise the sending of peacekeepers, an action that will almost certainly be refused, not least since the invocation of R2P in SCR1973 on Libya was interpreted as legitimizing military intervention by NATO. The consequences of that intervention have been continued large-scale violence and violations of international law. This approach must not be repeated.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights has spoken of the mounting evidence of Crimes Against Humanity in Syria. Engagement by the international community is therefore legitimate and necessary to ensure an immediate cessation of hostilities, the creation of humanitarian corridors and assistance to the civilian population. Such corridors must be respected by all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities.
The international community has a role in assisting this process. Specifically, WILPF urges that support from existing multilateral bodies be requested, in particular, the OSCE. Through the existing relationship with its Mediterranean Partners for Co-operation, the OSCE can use its experience in other contexts to provide non-militarized monitoring and assessment in Syria itself. The OSCE’s Platform for Co-operative Security supports the advancement of comprehensive security within the OSCE region, promotes human rights, controls the traffic of arms and promotes border security, all of which are growing concerns in the Syrian crisis. Since its founding, the OSCE has stressed the inter-linkages between European and Mediterranean security and has significant experience in mounting Field Operations to promote peace and security. The OSCE is well-placed to support the Arab League’s existing diplomatic efforts in Syria.
Once peace is restored, it is incumbent on the international community to provide appropriate assistance in bringing perpetrators of crimes to Justice, establishing the rule of law and peace to both Syria and the region. Sustainable peace and security will only be achieved through the participation of women and by ensuring that the political economy of discrimination is addressed, both in law and in practice.