UNITED NATIONS: Stating that the conflict in Syria has reached new levels of cruelty and brutality, Pakistan on Monday implored the international community to act decisively and put an end to the violence that has gripped the nation for more than two years.
“The systematic imposition of sieges, the use of chemical weapons, and forcible displacement have inflicted pain and suffering on the people of Syria,” Ambassador Masood Khan told the UN General Assembly.
The Pakistani envoy spoke after Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Chairman of the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, briefed the 193-member Assembly on the progress of the probe. Established by the UN Human Rights Council in August 2011, the Commission also includes experts Karen Koning Abuzayd, Carla del Ponte and Vitit Muntarbhorn.
It has been mandated to investigate and record all violations of international human rights law during the Syria conflict. More than 100,000 people have been killed since fighting began between Syrian Government forces and opposition groups seeking to oust President Bashar Al-Assad.
Almost two million have fled to neighbouring countries and a further four million have been internally displaced. Masood Khan regretted that diplomatic talks at Geneva aimed at settling the conflict were being postposed frequently and demands for more arms are increasing. Increased arm transfers would hurt the prospects of a political settlement to the conflict, he said, adding: “There remains no military solution.”
Masood Khan agreed with the Commission that the conflict will end only through a comprehensive, inclusive political process.
“Our first appeal is to the Government of Syria and all parties to cease hostilities forthwith,” he said.
“They could have responded to the United Nations Secretary General’s call to cease fire during the month of Ramadan. But nothing is lost. If they heed that call today, thousands of lives will be saved who are almost certain to be killed in the coming months, as the conflict rages.
“Secondly, he said, the government and opposition representatives should hasten to move to Geneva to find a political solution.
“They would go there not to meet the dictates of geopolitics, but to protect themselves, to protect their citizens, to protect their nation.
“The Pakistani envoy added, “If the international community can watch the bleeding of Syria for the last two years, without making an effective intervention to stop killings or initiate a process for mediation leading to conciliation, it can wait for another two years. But can the Syrian nation afford to do that? “Are Syrians bracing for losing another 100,000 of their citizens?
“We say these words, because Pakistan cares for the people of Syria. Despite their current catastrophic experiences, we believe in the genius and will of the Syrian people to shape to resolve their differences and shape their own differences.
“The international community, he said, also had most sophisticated diplomatic tools to help resolve the conflict in Syria, but it was hamstrung by realpolitik.
“We appeal to the United States and Russia to take there agreement on the Geneva II Conference to its logical conclusion and persuade all parties to send their empowered interlocutors to Geneva.
“We also appeal to those states who are supplying arms to combatants in Syria or contemplating to do so to seriously re-consider their decisions. Peace would be made when when combatants will lay down arms; not when they multiply them.”
In the meantime, he said all parties must respect human rights. “An armed conflict does not give the parties a license to kill and a license to flout international humanitarian law.
Accountability must therefor be enforced across the board.”
In his briefing, chairman Pinheiro said, “We cannot continue to recite a litany of violations and abuses to little effect either on the warring parties inside Syria or those walking along the corridors of power. It is not enough to be appalled. There is an obligation to do what you must to bring this war to a close. This will require the international community not only to recognize, but also to demand, a diplomatic solution.”