War Crimes! How Does The UN Exactly See Its Stand on Syria?

Published February 24th, 2021 - 07:54 GMT
Members of the Druze community sit near a billboard bearing the portrait of Syrian President Bashar Assad during a rally in the village of Majdal Shams in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights on February 14, 2021, to protest the 1981 Israeli annexation law of the strategic plateau which the Jewish state captured from Syria during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. JALAA MAREY / AFP
Members of the Druze community sit near a billboard bearing the portrait of Syrian President Bashar Assad during a rally in the village of Majdal Shams in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights on February 14, 2021, to protest the 1981 Israeli annexation law of the strategic plateau which the Jewish state captured from Syria during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. JALAA MAREY / AFP
Highlights
Putting Syria on top UN committees only helps the Assad regime portray itself a UN arbiter of human rights.

The same day the UN published its latest Syria inquiry report, which classified the regime’s acts as international crimes, it also prepared to elect it to a body that protects self-determination.

The United Nations is due to elect a Syrian regime representative to a senior seat as rapporteur for the Special Committee on Decolonization, a body tasked with upholding fundamental human rights and bringing an end to the “subjugation, domination and exploitation” of peoples. 

The announcement came the same day the UN also published its most recent inquiry on Syria, which underlined that Bashar al Assad’s regime forces and associated militias committed acts against the civilian population that likely constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and “other international crimes, including genocide”.

“That the UN announced its intention to elect the Syrian regime to a senior UN post on the same day that an inquiry accused the regime of crimes against humanity is morally repulsive and logically absurd,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of Geneva-based human rights organization, UN Watch. 

“Putting Syria on top UN committees only helps the Assad regime portray itself a UN arbiter of human rights. It’s an insult to Syria’s millions of victims”

The 29-member committee aims to help decolonise and assist 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories, like Guam, French Polynesia, and the British Virgin Islands.

The regime’s systematic abuse of Syrians has been recorded and classified as crimes against humanity as early as 2011, when the regime violently cracked down on peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators, and it quickly spiralled into war.

Since then, the UN, journalists, independent rights watchdogs and NGOs have recorded different types of war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Assad regime and its allies, including torturerape and sexual abuse (including of children); enforced disappearances; deliberate targetting of civilians and children; deliberate targeting of internationally protected zones like hospitals and schools; use of chemical weaponsmass executions; indiscriminate targeting of civilians; collective punishmentincluding denial of food and water.

“The horrors of the conflict have left no Syrian family untouched,” the UN said in its report.

Even before the war, Syria was notorious for its human rights abuses, ranging from enforced disappearancesmassacres of political dissidents, to widespread torture, particularly under current regime leader, Bashar al Assad, and his predecessor, his father Hafez al Assad. 

War crime denialism

The chair of the committee, Ambassador Keisha McGuire of Grenada announced during the February 18 Organizational Session that the election of ambassador Bassam al Sabbagh, who is also the permanent representative of Syria to the UN, would be postponed to a later date. She then paid special tribute to Sabbagh’s predecessor, Bashar Jaafari.

Jaafari had made headlines in 2016, when he laughed at an Al Jazeera journalist’s question regarding the regime’s bombings of hospitals in Aleppo

“...[F]or reasons beyond our control he [Sabbagh] was unable to join us today,” said a Syrian representative at the meeting. 

“We thank the committee for having deferred the election until the month of June…The Syrian Arab Republic has always supported the proceedings of the Special Committee as well as the efforts of the committee to reinforce the right to self-determination. You can count on our support,” she continued.

Like his predecessor, Sabbagh, has also partaken in war crime denialism, including dismissing international investigations of the regime’s use of chemical weapons as “deceitful allegations and fabrications against Syrian authorities.”

Sabbagh is also Syria’s permanent representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). There are very few people who are not found guilty by international courts and are not sanctioned who can represent Syria in the international arena. 

This article has been adapted from its original source.     


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