WILPF statement on the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria

WILPF welcomes the Commission of Inquiry’s continued efforts to highlight the grave human rights situation in Syria but remains concerned about the Syrian government’s persistent denial of access into its territory.

We greatly recognise the integration of some gendered analysis into the Commission’s report to shed the light on the severe and disproportionate impact of the conflict on women. WILPF has detailed this impact in a joint submission with Syrian women’s grassroots organisations for the UPR of Syria.[1] We strongly encourage the Commission to develop the gendered analysis and integrate it in all its future reports, including to reflect how the armed conflict undermines women’s social, political and economic participation in a society already suffering from discrimination, patriarchy and gender-based violence.

We remain particularly alarmed by the pattern of systematic and deliberate attacks on civilian infrastructure, especially medical facilities and personnel. Mr. Pinheiro, the Commission has reported a surge in attacks against medical facilities, with the majority of them having been carried out by government and pro-government forces.[2] Which of these attacks are attributable to Russia? We urge the Commission to identify specifically the perpetrators of attacks in future reports.

We remain equally alarmed by the extensive use of besiegement as a weapon of war by all warring parties to the conflict, which inflicts grave and disproportionate impacts on women. According to the Commission’s report, more than six million civilians are struggling to survive in besieged and hard-to-reach communities. This practice impacts women severely as the lack of food and medical care negatively affects the health of pregnant and breastfeeding women, and leads to higher infant mortality rates.[3] In addition, the increased competition for scarce food resources inside besieged areas renders it significantly difficult for women to secure food and medicine, especially those who have become breadwinners.

Mr. President, this Council must urge all States and armed groups involved in the conflict to immediately stop using starvation and besiegement as a bargaining chip for their political interests. Because of their afflictive impact on civilians, it must also urge States to refrain from selling weapons to any of the parties to the conflict or countries that might transfer to them, as mandated by articles 6 and 7 of the Arms Trade Treaty.

[1] Violations against women in Syria and the disproportionate impact of the conflict on them, NGO summary report for the UPR of Syria, by (in alphabetical order) Badael Foundation, BIHAR Relief Organization, Center for Civil Society and Democracy (CCSD), Dawlaty, Musawa – Women’s Study Center, Syrian Female Journalists Network, Syrian League for Citizenship, Urnammu, Women Now for Development, and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Available at: http://wilpf.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/WILPF_VAW_HC-2016_WEB-ONEPAGE.pdf

[2] 13th Report of Commission of Inquiry on Syria – A/HRC/33/55, 11 August 2016, paragraph 43.

[3] 10th Report of Commission of Inquiry on Syria – A/HRC/30/48, 15 August 2015, paragraph 63.