I have the honour to read this statement on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and my own country Norway.
We would like to thank the Commission of Inquiry on Syria for its report and presentation, and express the Nordic group’s appreciation for the Commission’s work to gather evidence and document human rights abuses taking place in Syria under difficult circumstances.
The latest findings are horrific. They describe the tremendous suffering of the Syrian people. The Commission documents how belligerent parties directly target civilians. Civilians are killed, injured, tortured, arbitrarily detained, threatened and subjected to extortion to instill fear and secure territorial control.
We strongly condemn the Syrian regime’s brutal war against its own people, including its indiscriminate use of barrel bombs targeting densely populated residential areas as well as other serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law
Likewise, we strongly condemn the massive attacks and other horrific abuses conducted by ISIL, Jabhat Al-Nusra and a number of non-state armed groups against the Syrian civilian population.
ISIL continues to control large parts of Syria, terrorizing the local population – especially women, children and minorities. Women and children are systematically being targeted and exposed to violence, rape, sexual slavery and exploitation.
It is despicable that parties to the conflict cynically exploit women and children for military purposes. There is clear evidence in the report that these breaches amount to war crimes.
We call on all parties to the conflict to immediately stop targeting civilians, and to respect the right of all Syrian civilians for protection, irrespective of their gender, political, ethnic and religious belonging. In particular, we call for the parties to ensure the protection of women and children against the effects of hostilities.
The suffering of the Syrian people must be stopped. Over half of the population is displaced. More than 250 000 persons have been killed.
We fully support the High Commissioner’s call to the Security Council to find the consensus to act now.
More than ever, the conflict is fueled by regional and international interests. Only a political solution, which involves these actors, can facilitate an end to the human tragedy.
We therefore call on all parties to the conflict to set the interest of the suffering Syrian people first, to redouble efforts, and to work together with the UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura in order to find an acceptable political solution.