For Immediate Release
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today welcomed the United Nations General Assembly’s vote to establish a group that will collect, preserve, and analyze evidence of war crimes and human rights abuses committed during the Syrian conflict. The team will ultimately prepare that evidence for future justice proceedings.
The following statement is attributable to Susannah Sirkin, PHR’s director of international policy and partnerships:
“The UN General Assembly has accomplished what the Security Council could not: taking decisive action when it comes to the barbarous war crimes committed in Syria. Resolutions like these are normally generated by the Security Council or with the involvement of the member state involved. But because of the callous intransigence of veto-wielding members Russia and China, the Security Council has abdicated its duties under the UN Charter to maintain international peace and security, including assuring accountability for war crimes. By taking this action, the General Assembly has assumed the mantle of responsibility in a conflict that has undermined laws aimed at protecting civilians. As a result, this conflict has claimed far too many lives and has generated instability for the people of Syria, the Middle East, and the entire world.
“This unprecedented action shows that, even without the Security Council, United Nations member states will take concrete steps to ensure that those who have committed atrocities will not escape accountability. Not surprisingly, the Syrian government, along with Russia and Iran, resisted this action every step of the way, and yet the vast majority of member states stood up to say: no more. At Physicians for Human Rights, we have documented 400 targeted or indiscriminate attacks on medical facilities as well as the deaths of 768 medical personnel in Syria since 2011. These widespread and systematic attacks amount to crimes against humanity. It’s high time those who have flouted international norms meant to make war a bit less hellish for civilians are held to account.”
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.