43rd session of the Human Rights Council — Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Delivered by Gaia Church, New Zealand Delegation, 10 March 2020.

Madam President,

New Zealand welcomes the report provided by the Commission of Inquiry.

The Syrian conflict has been characterised not only by a total disregard for civilian lives, but the deliberate and systematic attacks on civilian targets.

New Zealand condemns the numerous human rights violations which continue to take place throughout Syria. We call for an end to arbitrary arrests, summary executions, enforced disappearances, torture, cruel and inhuman treatment, and sexual and gender-based violence.

While the overall humanitarian situation in Syria has worsened dramatically in recent months, New Zealand is particularly concerned by events in Idlib. We are outraged by the mass killing of civilians, the blockage of humanitarian assistance, the targeting of medical personnel and facilities, and the flagrant abuses of international humanitarian law, including the use of chemical weapons and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. We reiterate our call for all parties to the conflict to comply with the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law, at all times, particularly the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure. International humanitarian law is not optional, nor conditional on circumstance or reciprocity.

Humanitarian assistance from the international community remains vital, and we call for humanitarian actors to be provided safe and unhindered access to all populations in need, as well as safe passage for the evacuation of civilians.

The Syrian Government and its military backers’ persistent and unrelenting attacks cannot be justified. New Zealand continues to call for all parties to the Syrian conflict to cease violence and spare no effort to find a sustainable political solution. This is the only way to bring peace to the people of Syria.

Thank you, Madam President


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