Human Rights Council to hold second successive special session on Syria
Thursday, 18 August 2011 09:55


On 22 August 2011, the Human Rights Council (the Council) will hold its 17th special session on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic. This is the second successive special session held by the Council on the situation in Syria in recent months, marking the first time in the 5-year history of the Council that back-to-back special sessions have been held on the same situation. The unprecedented attention being given to Syria reflects both the seriousness of the situation in the country, as well as previously unseen tenacity by the Council in addressing and following up on major human rights abuses.


The 16th special session, on human rights in Syria, resulted in a resolution that set up a fact-finding mission to Syria. Unfortunately Syria has since been uncooperative, denying the mission access to the State and making it impossible for the mission to compile a report for the Council’s 17th regular session (held in June 2011). This led to a joint statement, presented at the 17th regular session, by 54 States condemning Syria’s behavior and calling for an immediate response to the mission’s request for access. In the meantime the situation in Syria has continued to worsen. Reports of alleged violence and abuse from the military continue to accumulate, with attacks on the cities Hama, Deir Ez-Zor, Abukamal, and Latakia, and with hundreds of refugees fleeing into Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and other neighbouring States. It is hoped that the resolution to be adopted at this special session will create an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate alleged abuses. This Commission of Inquiry would effectively take over the mandate of the fact-finding mission, the report of which has just been published.


The request for the special session was submitted by Poland (on behalf of the EU), with the support of 25 member States of the Council (Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Chile, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Maldives, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Spain, Switzerland, the United States of America, and Uruguay) from all regions and including all the Arab members of the Council. The request also had the support of 33 observer States. A Special Session can be requested if it has the support of at least one third of the 47 member States of the Council.


The session will be preceded by open-ended informal consultations on the conduct and organisation of the special session on 18 August.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 August 2011 16:17
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