As the Russian and Assad regime onslaught on Aleppo continues causing an untold humanitarian catastrophe, over 220 civil society organizations from 45 countries have issued a declaration saying that the UN Security Council has “failed to uphold its responsibility to protect the Syrian people.”
Signatories to the declaration, including Amnesty International, Asia Forum for Human Rights and Development, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam, Pan-African Lawyers Union, Care International, and Save the Children, have also demanded that UN Member States take urgent and meaningful action to stop the atrocities and protect civilians.
Najib Ghadbian, representative of the Syrian Coalition in the United Nations, welcomed the move, saying that it will put pressure on the international community to stop the massacres being committed in Aleppo. He stressed the need for American leadership of efforts at the UN General Assembly, noting that the US position on Syria, albeit weak, cannot be bypassed.
Sherine Tadros, head of Amnesty International’s UN office, said that the 223 human rights and civil society organizations that have signed on in support of the appeal were just “a small but very potent indication of the frustration we all feel about the inability of the world body to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people.”
“The Security Council has failed the Syrian people for the past six years and the principle organ of the United Nations that was in fact created to maintain international peace and security is unable, unfit, unwilling to do so,” Tadros said.
The appeal urgently called upon UN member states to step in and request an Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly “to demand an end to all unlawful attacks in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria, and immediate and unhindered humanitarian access so that life-saving aid can reach all those in need. Member states should also explore possible avenues to bring perpetrators of serious crimes under international law on all sides to justice.”
The appeal comes after Russia vetoed a U.N. resolution demanding an end to the aerial bombardment of Aleppo on Oct. 8, effectively blocking action in the 15-member Security Council.
Human rights groups are now calling on member states to bring the matter before the full 193-member General Assembly, whose resolutions are non-binding but send a strong message from the international community.
The civil society declaration coincides with a new research by Human Rights Watch which shows that war crimes were committed in Aleppo during the Russian-backed Assad regime campaign in September and October 2016, with at least 440 civilians killed including 90 children.
Signatories to the declaration welcomed Canada’s leadership in seeking UN General Assembly action, strongly urging all Member States to join the 73 countries from all regions around the world and endorse such efforts. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office + Al Jazeera)