[JURIST] The UN Security Council (UNSC) [official website] released a statement [press release] Wednesday condemning human rights violations and use of force against civilians in Syria. The statement, delivered by Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri [official profile] of India serving as August president, conveyed the UNSC’s regret regarding the civilian deaths that resulted from mass protests and stated that those who were responsible for the violence should be held accountable. The UNSC asked Syrian authorities to refrain from using force, and allow relief workers to respond to the humanitarian needs of those affected by the unrest. The UNSC further asked Syria to cooperate with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] as it investigates the current humanitarian situation. The UNSC further called upon Syrian authorities to use the political process to resolve the tension between civilians and the government:
[T]he only solution to the current crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process, with the aim of effectively addressing the legitimate aspirations of and concerns of the population which will allow the full exercise of fundamental freedoms for its entire population, including that of expression and peaceful assembly.
However, Lebanon, one of the councils non-permanent members, disassociated itself from the statement preventing a unanimous resolution, but it did not move to block adoption of the statement. The UNSC requested that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] provide an update on the current situation in Syria within seven days. Ban called the statement a “clear message from the international community” and stated that his assessment will be “unbiased, impartial and true to the facts.”
This is not the first time that the UN has called upon Syria to address allegations of violence and human rights violations in connection with mass protests. In April, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] held an emergency special session and condemned the violence [JURIST report] used by Syrian authorities against peaceful protesters. The UNHRC called for a complete investigation of alleged human rights violations. Earlier in April, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called for Syria to immediately halt the killings [JURIST report] and violence against civilian protesters in response to the fatal shootings of peaceful anti-government protesters. In March, Pillay urged the Syrian government [JURIST report] to ensure protesters’ rights to peaceful expression and to work toward addressing their concerns instead of responding with violence.