The UN General Assembly [official website], deeply concerned by the rising death toll in Syria, adopted a resolution [press release] Wednesday calling for rapid progress on a political transition while condemning the Syrian government's use of heavy weapons and the "widespread and systematic" violations of human rights within the region. The resolution also welcomes the 2012 establishment of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (ETILAF) [official website] as the representatives needed for a political dialogue and eventual transition. The measure also requests urgent financial support for countries hosting Syrian refugees, with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) [official website] registering more than a million displaced persons now living in camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq.
The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [BBC profile], and the increasingly bloody nature of the conflict has put pressure on the international community to intervene. In response to a series of massacres carried out against civilians earlier this week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called upon the international community [JURIST report] to find a solution to the conflict in Syria and ensure that those responsible for human rights violations are held accountable. Last month Assad issued a decree reducing prison terms [JURIST report] for a number of rebel prisoners, but the move was dismissed as a "meaningless gesture" by activists. Also in April Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] accused the Syrian Air Force of deliberately targeting civilians [JURIST report] in air strikes in opposition-controlled areas. In March HRW accused Syria's military of using widely-banned cluster munitions [JURIST report] against civilians. In February the UN said that both the Syrian government and the anti-government rebels are committing war crimes [JURIST report]. Earlier that month Pillay reported that the death toll after two years [JURIST report] of armed conflict approached 70,000.