Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

UN Security Council Arria-Formula Meeting on Accountability in Syria

The United Nations Security Council: Arria-Formula Meeting on Accountability in the Syrian Arab Republic

29 November 2021

Statement by H.E. The Hon. Mitch Fifield,
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

Australia thanks the Council for today’s discussion, and Ms Marchi-Uhel, Professor Kress, and the representatives from Syria’s civil society for their briefings.

This meeting is an important opportunity to reiterate the Security Council’s commitment to holding perpetrators of crimes against humanity and human rights abuses to account.

The Secretary-General’s latest report paints a grim picture of the ongoing situation in Syria. Particularly disturbing is the death of 323 civilians – almost half of which are women and children – from hostilities in the period August - September 2021, and the ongoing violations of human rights, including reports of hostage taking, arbitrary detention and the continued use of siege tactics by regime forces.

Australia takes this opportunity to reaffirm our strong support for the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) in its mission to collect and preserve evidence of the most serious crimes under international law committed in Syria, and calls for full cooperation with the IIIM by all parties to the conflict.

Australia further calls for the Assad regime’s full cooperation with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The unaddressed discrepancies in Syria’s initial declaration to the OPCW, and repeated attempts to hinder the work of the Technical Secretariat and Declaration Assessment Team, are unacceptable and represent further efforts by the Assad regime to avoid accountability for potential violations of international law and crimes against humanity.

Without accountability, there is no credible prospect of lasting peace in Syria. After a decade of violence and human rights abuses, it is the duty of the international community seek justice for victims.