Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (A/HRC/22/59)
Human Rights Council
Agenda item 4
Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention
The depth of the Syrian tragedy is poignantly reflected in the accounts of its victims.
Their harrowing experiences of survival detail grave human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The destructive dynamics of the civil war not only have an impact on the civilian population but are also tearing apart the country’s complex social fabric, jeopardizing future generations and undermining peace and security in the entire region.
The situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic has continued to deteriorate. Since 15 July 2012, there has been an escalation in the armed conflict between Government forces and anti-Government armed groups. The conflict has become increasingly sectarian, with the conduct of the parties becoming significantly more radicalized and militarized.
For the present report, 445 interviews were conducted. The continued lack of access to the Syrian Arab Republic significantly limited the commission’s ability to fulfil its mandate of investigating all alleged violations of international law and all massacres. This was particularly the case with regard to information concerning crimes and abuses terror and amounted to the war crime of attacking civilians. The violations and abuses committed by anti-Government armed groups did not, however, reach the intensity and scale of those committed by Government forces and affiliated militia.
Both Government-affiliated militia and anti-Government armed groups were found to have violated the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, to which the Syrian Arab Republic is a party.
Government-affiliated militia used children under the age of 18 in direct hostilities.
Children under the age of 15 actively participated in hostilities as part of anti-Government armed groups, conduct that constitutes the war crime of using, conscripting and enlisting children.
The commission reiterates that the only solution to the Syrian conflict is a political one, based on the framework set forth in the final communiqué of the Action Group for Syria of 30 June 2012 (Geneva communiqué) (A/66/865-S/2012/522).
Ensuring the accountability of all parties for crimes committed is imperative. The quest for peace and justice is a shared responsibility at the national, regional and international levels. The commission’s detailed recommendations — to the Syrian Government, anti-Government armed groups, the international community, the Human Rights Council and the Security Council — serve to emphasize the need to counter a growing culture of impunity, through referral to justice at the national and international levels, in addition to other channels to promote truth and reconciliation, and the social recovery and integration of victims.
A confidential list of individuals and units believed to be responsible for crimes against humanity, breaches of international humanitarian law and gross human rights violations will be submitted to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at the close of the commission’s current mandate, in March 2013. committed by anti-Government armed groups.
Government forces and affiliated militia committed the crimes against humanity of murder, torture, rape, enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts. War crimes and gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law — including arbitrary arrest and detention, unlawful attack, attacking protected objects, and pillaging and destruction of property — were also committed.
Anti-Government armed groups have committed war crimes, including murder, torture, hostage-taking and attacking protected objects. They continue to endanger the civilian population by positioning military objectives inside civilian areas. Where armed groups carried out bombings in predominantly civilian areas, it had the effect of spreading