HRC42: Statement on the Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria

17 September 2019

Statement on the Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria

UN Human Rights Council 42nd session (9 – 27 September 2019)

Item 4: Interactive Dialogue with Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic


The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) commends the way in which the Commission of Inquiry has integrated gender analysis in their report to this session of the HRC (A/HRC/42/51). The integration of a gendered analysis went beyond the usual reference to alarming patterns of sexual and gender-based violence, and highlighted how pre-existing gender inequalities exacerbate the disproportionate impact of the armed conflict on women, girls, men and boys, and shed light on the differential socio-economic harms suffered by them.

What we find particularly important is how gender-specific concerns were not only addressed in a standalone section on gendered harms, but were mainstreamed throughout several sections of the Commission’s report, e.g. in the introductory remarks, [1] the impact of the ongoing conflict, [2] displacement [3] and in the recommendations.[4] We strongly encourage the Commissioners to pursue this approach in all future reports.

We urge States to consider thoroughly the gendered analysis in the Commission’s report and integrate its findings into their priorities, programming and policies regarding the situation in Syria. Doing so must constitute a first step in  the  design of  post-conflict transition  and justice  programmes, so as to ensure  fulfilment of legal  obligations relating  to  reparations, restitution,  guarantees  of non-repetition,  reconstruction and justice that respond to the different harms suffered. [5]

WILPF also commends the concrete and practical recommendation addressed to the Syrian regime around the need to ensure women and girls’ enjoyment of key rights such as property and documentation. This is important because discriminatory laws and practices in Syria already limit women and girls’ full enjoyment of land and property rights, and the armed conflict has inflicted additional challenges on them in claiming those rights especially when the male head of household is missing, killed, or detained. In addition, WILPF welcomes the specific references [6] made to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000), [7] 2122 (2013) [8] and the CEDAW Committee’s General Recommendation 30 on women in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations. [9] In this context, we stress the importance for the Commission to reiterate its previous call made on all actors to make any provision and facilitation of reconstruction funding contingent upon the fulfilment of benchmarks on accountability and human rights protection.[10]

We urge all States to:

  • Ensure that the findings and recommendations in Commission of Inquiry report are addressed fully in the Human Rights Council’s resolutions and that meaningful follow-up  is  given to  them
  • Exert pressure on the Syrian regime to submit its national report to the CEDAW Committee that was due in July 2018.


Download the PDF version of the Statement on the Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria

[1] A/HRC/42/51, paragraph 9
[2] A/HRC/42/51, paragraph 63
[3] A/HRC/42/51, paragraphs 77, 79 and 85
[4] A/HRC/42/51, paragraphs 98 (b) and (e)
[5] A Commentary by Madeleine Rees and Christin Chinkin on the Conference Room Paper of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic “I lost my dignity”: Sexual and gender-based violence in the Syrian Arab Republic” (A/HRC/37/CRP.3)
[6] A/HRC/42/51, paragraph 98 (e)
[10] Paragraph 82 (b) of the Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic to the 37th session of the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/37/72, 1 February 2018)