As delivered by Denmark
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic countries: Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
We thank the Commission for its latest report and for its dedicated work for the past six years. Unfortunately, Mr. President, the independent and impartial documenting of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Syria continue to be of the utmost importance.
I regret that many of the messages we have made for the past several years bear repeating. The Syrian people continue to face immense suffering and abuse. Civilians, including women and children, continue to be deliberately killed and wounded through unlawful and horribly cruel methods and means of warfare in complete disregard of international law.
The latest report by the Commission documents that the Syrian regime continues to use starvation tactics and forced displacement, usually disguised as evacuation deals, which adds to an already long list of grievances that face persons living in Syria. The Commission has also previously documented the regime’s continued use of chemical weapons and cluster munitions as well as the targeting of civilian infrastructure. We need not remind the Council that these acts constitute severe breaches of international humanitarian law and may well amount to war crimes. We furthermore condemn the indiscriminate attacks carried out by armed groups and terrorist organisations.
I think the numbers of casualties since our last session in March speak for themselves: The Syrian Network for Human Rights have reported that 354 civilians were killed in May, 408 civilians killed in April and 1241 killed in March this year. The vast majority of these at the hands of the Syrian regime and their backers.
With atrocities such as those committed in Eastern Ghouta and Yarmouk fresh in our memories, the Syrian regime’s gathering of troops on the border of the South Western de-escalation zone is deeply concerning. We hope for a peaceful resolution in this area. As is the continued Syrian and Russian bombardments in Idlib.
It needs to be reiterated that peace in Syria will not come through the barrel of a gun. We need to see real progress in the UN-led negotiations regarding the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254. We lend our full support to the UN Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura, in this endeavour and we insist that the Syrian regime to commits to the negotiations. Those who support the regime must use their influence to this end.
Until we have seen justice fulfilled, we will continue to pursue accountability. We strongly support the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) and the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) as well as the civil society actors who risk their lives to ensure documentation to be used in future prosecutions. We urge others, both states and non-state actors, to support and work with these actors as well.