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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2012

United Nations General Assembly - Report of the Human Rights Council on Syria

Statement by Bernadette Cavanagh, Chargé d’Affaires a.i.  Monday 13 February 2012

Mr President

New Zealand thanks you for holding today’s meeting on this important issue. It is with great sadness that we find ourselves here discussing the worsening situation in the Syrian Arab Republic.

We welcome the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Madam Pillay, and thank her for the update on the latest developments.
New Zealand takes this opportunity to again support the Human Right Council’s special session on Syria, and its resolution S-18/1 referring to the report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria.  The report made it clear that crimes against humanity had been committed. The Commission also found substantial evidence of grave violations of human rights including summary execution, arbitrary arrest, torture, and violation of children’s rights. This is abhorrent, it must stop, and Syria must protect its population.

New Zealand joins others who have commended the role played by Syria’s neighbours.  The establishment of the Group of Friends of Syria is a welcome development, as is Tunisia’s offer to host its first meeting.  The Arab League’s plans set out a process for a peaceful transition that would allow the Syrian people to decide their future. 

In short – we should listen to the countries of the region and follow their lead. 

In that regard, New Zealand was dismayed at the failure of the Security Council to support the Arab League Plan. As the President of the General Assembly and High Commissioner for Human Rights both noted, the longer the Security Council is divided, the more Syrian people are killed. It is deeply troubling to hear reports that the situation in the Syria has intensified since the Security Council failed to act.   

New Zealand calls on the Syrian authorities to stop the violence immediately, and we call on them to fully comply with their obligations under international law to investigate, prosecute and punish all perpetrators of crimes against humanity.

We also urge Syria to implement the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry and the Arab League Plans.top of page

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Page last updated: Wednesday, 09 January 2013 14:49 NZDT