This month marks ten years since the start of the tragedy that is the Syrian crisis.
The atrocities committed and the human suffering have been appalling. It is a sad reflection that still today, violations and abuses of human rights in Syria continue with little end in sight.
Against this sombre backdrop, I welcome the convening of this panel of experts from the Commission of Inquiry and Syrian civil society. Not only is there a need for the atrocities committed in Syria to be documented, there must be accountability for the perpetrators. The Commission of Inquiry has Norway’s full support.
Moreover, human rights defenders and civil society voices need to be heard - both when documenting what is happening in Syria, as well as in finding a lasting and inclusive solution to the conflict.
Norway continues to support the efforts of the UN, and the Constitutional Committee; including the work of the Civil Society Support Room, and the Women’s Advisory Board.
Yet, a nationwide and permanent ceasefire is urgently needed to prevent further human suffering in Syria.
For our part, Norway will use its seat in the Security Council to work for progress on the political track, increased protection of civilians, and improved humanitarian access.
Let me highlight in particular the many missing persons, and the use of arbitrary detention in Syria. Not only may they constitute a violation of international humanitarian and human rights law, they remain a severe obstacle to progress on the political track. Norway strongly supports the emphasis the UN system places on the issue of missing persons in Syria.
We are also outraged to hear of the prevalence of rape and other forms of sexual violence used against both boys and girls.
We owe it to the people of Syria not to forget these atrocities.
At the same time, we also need to do our utmost to try to bring the conflict to an end.
Accountability is central to achieving sustainable peace, and facilitating a national reconciliation process.
In this respect, could I ask the members of the panel how they view the best way to combine the aspects of accountability and reconciliation as part of a political solution to the conflict?