A study [press release] carried out by the the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] has found that more than 60,000 people have been killed in the conflict in Syria since March 2011. According to the report, the average number of deaths per month has increased significantly since the summer of 2011, where the average was approximately 1,000 deaths per month, to an average of 5,000 deaths per month since July 2012. However, the study noted that 60,000 is likely an underestimate and that the actual death toll may be significantly higher. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] stated that "the number of casualties is higher than expected, and is truly shocking." While she cautioned that the figure is not "definitive," she said that the report is the "most detailed and wide-ranging to date." Pillay noted that both sides have committed crimes against humanity and that the sectarian nature of the conflict will make any resolution difficult to achieve. She also called upon the international community to prepare for the "inevitable instability" that will take place once the conflict ends.
The Syrian government has been engaged in a bloody conflict with numerous opposition groups [BBC backgrounder] since March 2011 when nationwide protests opposing the government of President Bashar Assad [JURIST news archive] began. US President Barack Obama [JURIST news archive] has formally recognized [NYT report] the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as the country's legitimate representative. Last month the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) [official website] released its latest periodic update [JURIST report] on the conflict, finding persistent violence and human rights abuses and that civilians have "borne the brunt" of the conflict. In October Pillay called on the international community to bring an end to the violence in Syria.