Remarks on co-tabling agenda item 74 (c) “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic”

Cherith Norman Chalet
Acting U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 14, 2019


Thank you, Chair. The United States is proud to co-table with Saudi Arabia this year’s Third Committee resolution on the human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic.

In addition to highlighting the prolonged deterioration of human rights in Syria, the resolution before you convenes a high-level panel during the 75th session of the General Assembly to discuss violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights, and to share recommendations to facilitate improvements in civilian protection and accountability measures. The panel will consist of UN agencies including OHCHR, as well as civil society.

Over the course of the day, several delegations have repeatedly claimed that addressing situations such as that in Syria is supposedly “politicizing” the work of this Committee.

I remind you that for more than eight years, the regime of Bashar al-Assad has waged a war against the Syrian people, resulting in the deaths of more than a half a million people and displacement of 11 million more.

More than 5.6 million refugees, including more than 3.8 million women and children, have been forced to flee Syria, and 13 million people in Syria require urgent humanitarian assistance.

This is not a political issue. It is a human rights catastrophe. Anyone who says otherwise would be willfully ignorant to the facts and apathetic to the plight of millions of innocent civilians.

The Assad regime is responsible for innumerable atrocities, some of which rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity. These atrocities include the use of chemical weapons, unlawful killings, torture, and other inhumane acts.

Bombings continue to terrorize innocent women, men, and children in Idlib. The regime’s campaign has displaced over half of the Syrian population. And thousands of Syrian mothers and fathers have had to bury their own children – a fate no parent should suffer.

The United States is also concerned by the further deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the region.

Those responsible for the atrocities in Syria must be held accountable, including through independent investigations. In this regard, the United States welcomes the work of the IIIM (Triple I M) and UN Commission of Inquiry.

We also welcome the Board of Inquiry tasked to probe attacks that hit de-conflicted civilian sites in northwest Syria. We stand ready to support the Board’s work, encourage it to provide information regarding attribution, and look forward to a public account of its findings.

The resolution before you today reinforces the message this Committee has been sending since the start of the conflict in 2011 – that the international community will not remain silent as the Assad regime and its allies commit countless atrocities, among them war crimes and crimes against humanity, against the Syrian people. We must be the voice for the millions who continue to suffer; whose calls for justice and accountability remain unanswered; and whose hopes for peace for themselves and their children diminish as the conflict drags on. We will also rightly continue to press for humanitarian access wherever aid is needed in Syria, regardless of political affiliation.

Finally, if this resolution is voted, the United States calls on all delegations to vote in favor of this text.

Thank you, Chair.