< < >

2012 | Sailing Close to the Wind Human Rights Council Fact-Finding in Situations of Armed Conflict - The Case of Syria, by T. Marauhn

The article provides a succinct overview of events leading to the Syria unrest by tracing its roots in the Arab spring which started with the Tunisian revolution of late 2010 and early 2011. This is relevant in understanding the legality and legitimacy of the involvement of the UN Security Council, UN Human Rights Council and also to determine whether or not and when the crisis escalated into an armed conflict.

The article further points out that, as a result of diverse political preferences of individual states have prevented the international community from taking a clear action on the Syrian crises. As a result, the responds from the international community has been slow and unclear compared to the responds in Libya.

The article also presents the reaction of states in relation to the crisis. In the beginning of the uprising, most governments in the region expressed support for the Syrian government. This support later shifted towards the opposition groups as fighting intensified. However, Iran has remained a loyal ally to the government of Syria. As a result of the crises, the Arab League condemned the Assad regime's violent response to the protests and suspended Syria's membership. Similarly, The Turkish condemned the violent response of the regime to protests and also called for President Assad's departure from office. The United States and its allies supported protesters for democracy promotion, peaceful change and a call for President Assad's departure from power. However, attempts by the UN Security Council for sanctions on the regime have been futile due to Russia and China blocking those resolutions.

In a draft resolution of October 4, 2011, the UN Security Council sought to strongly condemn the continued grave and systematic human rights violations and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities, urges the Syrian authorities, to end human rights violations and terminate the use of force against civilians and to improve the humanitarian situation in crisis areas and ensure the return of those who fled the violence to their homes. Unfortunately, the draft could not be adopted due to China and Russia veto. A second draft of February 4, 2012 suffered similar fate by Russia and China.

The approach of the U.N. General Assembly ("General Assembly") and the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) on their part has been more of an activist with non-binding resolutions calling end to all human rights violations, implement the Action of the League of Arab States, comply with Human Rights Council resolutions, cooperate fully and effectively with the independent international commission of inquiry.

According to the article, the crisis in Syria had evolved into an armed conflict in the middle of February 2012 and the acts therefrom may be linked to non-international armed conflict of an increasingly sectarian and increasingly violent and complex nature