Original HRC document

Document Type: Final Resolution

Date: 2018 Jul

Session: 38th Regular Session (2018 Jun)

Agenda Item: Item4: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention

GE.18-11931(E)



Human Rights Council Thirty-eighth session

18 June–6 July 2018

Agenda item 4

Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on 6 July 2018

38/16. The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic

The Human Rights Council,

Guided by the Charter of the United Nations,

Reaffirming all its previous resolutions on the Syrian Arab Republic,

Reaffirming also its strong commitment to the full respect of the sovereignty,

independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic,

Demanding that the Syrian authorities meet their responsibility to protect the Syrian

population,

Condemning the grave situation of human rights across the Syrian Arab Republic,

Condemning also the indiscriminate or deliberate targeting of civilians in violation

of international humanitarian law, and recalling the obligation of all parties to the conflict

to take all feasible precautions to avoid, and in any event minimize, harm to civilians and

civilian objects, such as schools, as well as medical facilities, and the prohibition on

attacking, removing, destroying or rendering useless objects indispensable to the survival of

the civilian population, including drinking water installations, supplies and food stuffs,

Expressing deep concern at the situation of women, children and internally

displaced persons, who remain among the most vulnerable to violence,

Reiterating that the only sustainable solution to the current conflict in the Syrian

Arab Republic is through an inclusive, Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political process under

the auspices of the United Nations, including with the equal voice and full and meaningful

participation of women in all efforts and decision-making, in accordance with the Geneva

communiqué of 30 June 2012 and Security Council resolutions 2118 (2013) of 27

September 2013 and 2254 (2015) of 18 December 2015, with a view to establishing

credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance, and supporting the Special Envoy of the

Secretary-General for Syria is his efforts towards this end,

Welcoming Security Council resolution 2336 (2016) of 31 December 2016, and

stressing the need to respect the de-escalation areas in order to achieve a sustained

reduction in violence as a step towards a comprehensive nationwide ceasefire, and

emphasizing that humanitarian access must be part of such efforts,

United Nations A/HRC/RES/38/16

Recalling that, consistent with international humanitarian law and pursuant to

relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 2165 (2014) of 14 July 2014

and 2401 (2018) of 24 February 2018, all Syrian parties to the conflict are to enable the

immediate and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance, and stressing that the

arbitrary denial of humanitarian access, depriving civilians of objects and assistance

indispensable to their survival, including wilfully impeding relief supplies, such as food aid

and life-saving medical supplies, may constitute a violation of international humanitarian

law,

Recalling also that deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian objects, such as

schools and educational facilities, cultural heritage and places of worship, as well as on

medical facilities, patients and personnel, may amount to war crimes,

Recalling further the statements made by the Secretary-General and the United

Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that crimes against humanity and war

crimes are likely to have been committed in the Syrian Arab Republic,

Reaffirming that the use of chemical weapons constitutes a serious violation of

international law, reiterating that all those responsible for any use of chemical weapons

must be held accountable, and regretting that the mandate of the Organisation for the

Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism has not

been renewed,

Bearing in mind that the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of

small arms and light weapons fuel conflict and affect negatively the enjoyment of human

rights,

Expressing its deepest concern at the findings of the Independent International

Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, and deploring the lack of cooperation

by the Syrian authorities with the Commission of Inquiry,

Acknowledging the ongoing efforts of human rights defenders active in the Syrian

Arab Republic to document violations and abuses of international human rights law and

violations of international humanitarian law, despite grave risks,

1. Deplores the fact that the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic continues in

its eighth year with its devastating impact on the civilian population, and urges all parties to

the conflict to abstain immediately from any actions that may contribute to the further

deterioration of the human rights, security and humanitarian situations;

2. Calls upon all parties to the conflict and Member States, especially members

of the International Syria Support Group, to make renewed efforts to create conditions,

including a comprehensive nationwide ceasefire, that support continued negotiations for a

political solution to the Syrian conflict, under the auspices of the United Nations Office at

Geneva, as only a durable political solution to the conflict can bring an end to the

systematic, widespread and gross violations and abuses of international human rights law

and violations of international humanitarian law;

3. Welcomes the work and the important role played by the Independent

International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, established by the

Human Rights Council in its resolution S-17/1 of 23 August 2011, in supporting future

accountability efforts by investigating all alleged violations and abuses of international

human rights law since March 2011 in the Syrian Arab Republic, to establish the facts and

circumstances and to support efforts to ensure that all perpetrators of abuses and violations,

including those who may be responsible for crimes against humanity, are held accountable;

4. Demands that the Syrian authorities cooperate fully with the Human Rights

Council and the Commission of Inquiry by granting the Commission immediate, full and

unfettered access throughout the Syrian Arab Republic;

5. Strongly condemns all violations and abuses of international human rights

law and all violations of international humanitarian law committed by all parties to the

conflict, including the continued systematic, widespread and gross violations and abuses of

human rights and all violations of international humanitarian law by the Syrian authorities

and affiliated militias, including foreign terrorist fighters and those foreign organizations

fighting on behalf of the Syrian authorities, in particular Hizbullah, and expresses deep

concern that their involvement further exacerbates the deteriorating situation in the Syrian

Arab Republic, including the human rights and humanitarian situation, which has a serious

negative impact on the region;

6. Also strongly condemns the continued use by the Syrian authorities of banned

munitions, the indiscriminate use of heavy weapons in populated areas, barrel bombs, aerial

bombardment, incendiary weapons, ballistic missiles and cluster bombs, and the use of

starvation and besiegement directed against civilian populations as a method of warfare,

and stresses the particular situation of concern in this regard in Idlib and other areas where

airstrikes continue to cause death and injury among civilians;

7. Further strongly condemns all attacks on medical and health personnel, first

responders, their means of transport and equipment, and hospitals and other medical

facilities, and deplores the long-term consequences of such attacks for the population and

health-care systems of the Syrian Arab Republic;

8. Strongly condemns the attacks against civilian objects, such as schools, as

reported by the Commission of Inquiry, and the negative effects of the ongoing conflict on

the rights and welfare of children, including their access to schools, medical care, education

and humanitarian assistance, decries the violations and abuses of international human rights

law and violations of international humanitarian law, as applicable, and deplores, in

particular, the impact of the denial of humanitarian access on their lives and well-being;

9. Urges all parties to the conflict to comply with their respective obligations

under international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and demands that

all parties, particularly the Syrian authorities and their allies, refrain from carrying out

attacks against the civilian population and civilian objects, such as schools, as well as on

medical units, personnel, patients and transport and personnel involved in humanitarian

assistance;

10. Expresses its profound concern at the findings of the Commission of Inquiry

that sexual and gender-based violence against women, girls, men and boys has been a

persistent issue in the Syrian Arab Republic since the uprising in 2011, and that women and

girls have been disproportionately affected and victimized on multiple grounds;1

11. Notes the findings of the Commission of Inquiry that such acts of sexual

violence were committed most commonly by the Syrian authorities and associated militia,

as well as by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Daesh), that they form part

of a widespread and systematic attack directed against a civilian population, amounting to

crimes against humanity, and that after February 2012, these acts constitute the war crimes

of rape and other forms of sexual violence, including torture and outrages upon personal

dignity;

12. Strongly condemns all acts of such violence, calls for immediate medical and

psychosocial support to be provided to survivors of such crimes and for every effort to be

made to ensure justice for those who have suffered as a result of such crimes, and urges all

parties to the conflict to heed the recommendations made by the Commission of Inquiry;

13. Takes note of the recent publication of the Commission of Inquiry, Detention

in the Syrian Arab Republic: A Way Forward, in which the Commission highlighted the

fact that the arbitrary detention of tens of thousands of individuals, particularly by the

Syrian authorities and affiliated militias, represents an urgent and large-scale crisis of

human rights protection;

14. Notes the commencement of the functioning of the Working Group on the

release of detainees/abductees, the handover of bodies and the identification of missing

persons, composed of Turkey, the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran, as

well as the United Nations, underlines the need for concrete steps forward on this issue, and

reiterates that all parties to the conflict must abide by their obligations under international

humanitarian law and international human rights law, as applicable;

1 See A/HRC/37/72 and A/HRC/37/CRP.3.

15. Strongly condemns the continued widespread practices of enforced

disappearance and arbitrary detention and the use of sexual violence, torture and ill-

treatment, especially in detention facilities run by the Syrian authorities, including those

acts referenced in the reports of the Commission of Inquiry and those depicted in the

evidence presented by “Caesar” in January 2014, and notes that such acts may constitute

violations and abuses of international human rights law or violations of international

humanitarian law;

16. Recognizes the permanent damage that torture and ill-treatment, including

sexual abuse and violence, cause to victims and their families, and condemns the denial of

medical services in all prisons and detention facilities;

17. Strongly condemns the reported killing of detainees in Syrian Military

Intelligence facilities, in particular in the Mezzeh airport detention facility, and Military

Security Branches 215, 227, 235, 248 and 291, and the reported killing of detainees at

military hospitals, including Tishreen and Harasta, and expresses deep concern at reports

that the regime used a crematorium to conceal a mass killing of prisoners at the Saydnaya

penitentiary complex;

18. Calls upon the Syrian authorities and all other parties to the conflict to ensure

the effective implementation of Security Council resolutions 2139 (2014) of 22 February

2014 and 2254 (2015) and, in particular, to end the arbitrary detention and torture of

civilians and sexual violence in the Syrian Arab Republic, notably in prisons and detention

facilities, as well as kidnappings, abductions and forced disappearances, as demanded by

the Council in its resolution 2139 (2014) and by the Commission of Inquiry in its

recommendations;2

19. Urges all parties to take heed of the recent recommendations on the issue of

detainees by the Commission of Inquiry,2 and in particular calls for the appropriate

international monitoring bodies to be granted immediate access without undue restriction to

all detainees and detention facilities, and for all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities,

to publish a list of all detention facilities, to allow access to medical services for all

detainees and to provide information on those they have detained to their families;

20. Demands the immediate release of all persons arbitrarily detained, including

women, children, older persons, persons with disabilities, human rights defenders,

humanitarian aid providers, medical personnel, the wounded and sick, and journalists, and

notes the importance of ensuring justice for those arbitrarily detained;

21. Condemns the reported forced displacement of populations in the Syrian

Arab Republic, expresses deep concern at reports of social and demographic engineering in

areas throughout the Syrian Arab Republic, and calls upon all parties concerned to cease

immediately all activities that cause these actions, including any activities that may amount

to war crimes or crimes against humanity;

22. Expresses deep concern at the situation of the 6.6 million internally displaced

people across the Syrian Arab Republic, and urges all parties to ensure that any evacuation

and movement of civilians is consistent with international humanitarian law and

international human rights law, as applicable;

23. Deplores the existence and application of national legislation, in particular

Syrian law No. 10/2018, which would have a significant detrimental impact on freedom of

movement and the right of Syrians displaced by the conflict to return to their homes in a

safe, voluntary and dignified manner when the situation on the ground allows it, and calls

for its repeal;

24. Urges all parties to take note of the recent recommendation of the

Commission of Inquiry on ensuring that the right of return is fully respected and facilitated

by guaranteeing that all return movements are voluntary and subject to informed consent to

the places of origin and protect all property and tenancy rights;2

2 See A/HRC/37/72.

25. Strongly condemns violence against all persons based on their religious or

ethnic affiliation, demands that all parties take all appropriate steps to protect civilians,

including members of ethnic, religious and confessional communities, and stresses that, in

this regard, the primary responsibility to protect the Syrian population lies with the Syrian

authorities;

26. Also strongly condemns the damage and destruction of the cultural heritage

of the Syrian Arab Republic, in particular the destruction of the cultural heritage in Palmyra

and Aleppo, and the organized looting and trafficking of Syrian cultural property, as

outlined by the Security Council in its resolution 2199 (2015) of 12 February 2015, affirms

that attacks intentionally directed against historic monuments may amount to war crimes,

and underlines the need to bring the perpetrators of such crimes to justice;

27. Further strongly condemns the terrorist acts and violence committed against

civilians by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Daesh), Al-Nusrah Front and

other terrorist organizations designated by the Security Council, and their continued gross,

systematic and widespread abuses of international human rights law and violations of

international humanitarian law, reaffirms that terrorism, including the actions of the so-

called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Daesh), cannot and should not be associated

with any religion, nationality or civilization, and stresses the importance of the full

implementation of Security Council resolution 2170 (2014) of 15 August 2014;

28. Condemns in the strongest possible terms the continued use of chemical

weapons by the Syrian authorities, in violation of its obligations under the Chemical

Weapons Convention and Security Council resolution 2118 (2013), and all use of chemical

weapons in contravention of well-established international standards and norms against

such use;

29. Recalls the relevant reports of the Organisation for the Prohibition of

Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism, in which it found the

Syrian authorities responsible for the use of chemical weapons on four occasions, and that

the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Daesh) was responsible for two chemical

weapons attacks between 2014 and 2017;

30. Expresses grave concern at the recent finding by the fact-finding mission of

the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that sarin and chlorine were very

likely used in separate attacks in Ltamenah on 24 and 25 March 2017, and that chlorine was

likely used in an attack in Saraqib on 4 February 2018;

31. Also expresses grave concern at the reported chemical weapons attack in

Douma on 7 April 2018, resulting in the death of more than 70 people and injury to many

more, and looks forward to the findings of the fact-finding mission of the Organisation for

the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on that attack;

32. Further expresses grave concern at the reports of the Technical Secretariat of

the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons of July 2016, March 2017, July

2017, October 2017 and March 2018, in which the Technical Secretariat reported that it had

been unable to verify that the declaration made by the Syrian authorities regarding their

chemical weapons programme was accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical

Weapons Convention, and calls upon the Syrian Arab Republic to cooperate fully with the

Organisation to provide further clarification relating to the gaps, inconsistencies and

discrepancies that remain concerning the declaration;

33. Demands that all parties desist immediately from any use of chemical

weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, expresses its strong conviction that those responsible

for the use of chemical weapons must be held accountable, and also expresses its support in

this regard for the objectives and commitments of the International Partnership against

Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons to support accountability for all those

responsible for the proliferation or use of chemical weapons;

34. Reaffirms the importance of establishing appropriate processes and

mechanisms to achieve justice, reconciliation, truth and accountability for gross violations

and abuses of international law, and reparations and effective remedies for victims, and

stresses the prerequisite role that accountability can play in any effort to bring about a

sustainable, inclusive and peaceful conclusion to the conflict;

35. Recalls that the International Criminal Court was established to help to end

impunity for applicable crimes in which the State is unwilling or unable to genuinely carry

out investigations or prosecutions;

36. Emphasizes the need to ensure that all those responsible for violations of

international humanitarian law or violations and abuses of international human rights law

are held to account through appropriate, fair and independent national, regional or

international criminal justice mechanisms, and stresses the need to pursue practical steps

towards this goal, while noting the important role that the International Criminal Court can

play in this regard;

37. Welcomes the work of the International, Impartial and Independent

Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the

Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic

since March 2011, including its close cooperation with the Commission of Inquiry and

Syrian civil society;

38. Invites Member States to actively support the International, Impartial and

Independent Mechanism, including by considering the provision of information and data on

the most serious crimes under international law committed in the Syrian Arab Republic,

and to provide adequate multiannual financial means for its functioning;

39. Deplores the grave humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, and

expresses deep concern at the plight of the approximately 2 million Syrians living in

besieged and hard-to-reach areas in the Syrian Arab Republic, whose needs are particularly

acute and who require full, immediate and safe humanitarian assistance;

40. Expresses deep concern at the finding of the Commission of Inquiry that

tactics used in the recapturing of the besieged area of Eastern Ghouta amounted to war

crimes and crimes against humanity;3

41. Strongly condemns the Syrian authorities’ removal of humanitarian aid from

United Nations-approved convoys, including medical aid and supplies intended to reach

desperate populations deprived of food, medical aid and vital necessities;

42. Demands that the Syrian authorities facilitate, and all other parties to the

conflict do not hinder, the full, immediate and safe access of the United Nations and

humanitarian actors, and that they ensure that the delivery of humanitarian aid reaches all

those in need, including in hard-to-reach and besieged areas, in accordance with relevant

Security Council resolutions, and calls upon Member States to fully fund the United

Nations appeals;

43. Expresses deep concern for the more than 5.6 million refugees in the region

fleeing the violence in the Syrian Arab Republic, welcomes the efforts of the neighbouring

countries Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, as well as of Egypt, to host Syrian refugees,

acknowledges the socioeconomic consequences of the presence of large-scale refugee

populations in those countries, and urges the international community to provide urgent

financial support to enable the host countries to respond to the growing humanitarian needs

of Syrian refugees, including the particular needs of women and girls, while emphasizing

the principles of responsibility and burden-sharing;

44. Notes those States outside the region that have put in place measures and

policies to assist and to host Syrian refugees, and encourages them to do more, and also

encourages other States outside the region to consider implementing similar measures and

policies, also with a view to providing Syrian refugees with protection and humanitarian

assistance;

45. Welcomes the relevant international conferences on supporting the Syrian

people, notably the second conference entitled “Supporting the future of Syria and the

3 See A/HRC/38/CRP.3.

region” hosted by the European Union in Brussels in 2018, and renews its call for the

international community to deliver in full all pledges;

46. Reaffirms that there can only be a political solution to the conflict in the

Syrian Arab Republic, and demands that all parties work towards a genuine political

transition based on the Geneva communiqué and Security Council resolution 2254 (2015),

within the framework of the United Nations-led intra-Syrian talks in Geneva and with the

equal voice and full and meaningful leadership and participation of women in decision-

making and in all efforts consistent with Council resolution 1325 (2000) of 31 October

2000 and subsequent resolutions on women, peace and security, that meets the legitimate

aspirations of the Syrian people for a civil, democratic and pluralistic State, in which all

citizens receive equal protection, regardless of gender, religion or ethnicity, and welcomes

the inclusion of civil society in this process;

47. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

39th meeting

6 July 2018

[Adopted by a recorded vote of 26 to 5, with 15 abstentions. The voting was as follows:

In favour:

Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Ecuador, Georgia,

Germany, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Qatar, Republic of Korea,

Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Togo,

Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and

Northern Ireland

Against:

Burundi, China, Cuba, Iraq, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)

Abstaining:

Afghanistan, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia,

Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines,

Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia]