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New York, 13 February 2012


Ladies and Gentlemen,
Madam High Commissioner for Human Rights,

We have before us the Report of the Human Rights Council on its eighteenth special session of 2 December 2011, on the Human Rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic.

I circulated this report to you in a letter dated 5 December 2011. The General Assembly has not yet considered this report. It contains the Human Rights Council resolution S-18/1 referring to the report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, established pursuant to Human rights Council resolution S-17/1.

Already in its report published on 23 November 2011, the Commission of Inquiry indicated that gross and systematic violations of human rights had been committed by the Syrian authorities and members of the Syrian military and security forces, in different locations in the Syrian Arab Republic. Already in November, the report stated that crimes against humanity had been committed in Syria.

The Syrian authorities refused to cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry, nor to give it access to the Syrian territory.

The League of Arab States took strong initiatives to promote a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis.

The League of Arab States adopted an action plan on 2 November 2011 and sent an observer mission to Syria. This observer mission had to be suspended on 28 of January due to the critical deterioration of the situation in Syria and the continued use of violence.

On 22 of January, the Arab League adopted a new plan to resolve the Syrian crisis. 

The role played by the Arab League must be commended. It is in accordance with Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations and the role of regional and subregional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security.

The Security Council has been unable to adopt a resolution supporting the Arab plan. I have expressed my concern about the division of the Security Council. The longer the Security Council remains divided in adopting a position on developments in Syria, the more difficult the situation becomes, with more Syrians being killed daily.

I am deeply concerned about the ongoing violence in Syria. The international community should call on the Syrian authorities to end the killings immediately and to put a halt to human rights violations.

All parties in Syria should immediately stop all violence and reprisals, in accordance with the League of Arab States’ initiative.  

Several member states have contacted me to express their concern about the situation in Syria and the need for the General Assembly to debate this issue.

As President of the General Assembly, it is my responsibility to let the members of the United Nations express their views on the human rights situation in Syria.

In the light of all events over the past few weeks, I have asked the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs Navi Pillay, to brief us on the latest developments since the report was received in November. I will now give her the floor.

I thank you.