Rt Hon Boros Johnson MP
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
City of Westminster
Geneva, August 30, 2016
Re: Strengthening action and ensuring a victim oriented approach on Syria at the 33rd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council
Dear Secretary of State,
The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies write to encourage the government of the United Kingdom to continue taking a leading role in strengthening action on Syria at the United Nations Human Rights Council (hereafter, “the Council”). In particular, we urge your government to support a resolution at the 33rd session of the Council to create a high level panel that would feature Syrian voices from the ground and witness testimony to crimes being committed in Syria. The panel will ensure that a victim oriented approach is at the forefront of the work of the Council with a view that any political solution should not undermine accountability for crimes against international law.
On August 18th, the image of the Syrian boy, Omran Daqneesh, sitting dazed and bloodied in an ambulance in Aleppo made worldwide headlines. Omran who was fortunate enough to survive the bombardment of what appears to be a civilian building does not share the same fate of the thousands of Syrian civilians who have died as a result of the conflict. Indiscriminate attacks against civilians, mass executions, kidnap and enforce disappearances and mass displacements have resulted in hundreds of thousands of victims. Recent numbers indicate that more than 250,000 persons have died, more than 13 million are in need of humanitarian assistance, with around 4.8 million refugees having fled the country.
Despite the devastating brutality and widespread violations of international law that Syrian citizens have been subjected to over the last 6 years, the resolutions on Syria at the Council have grown repetitive and overly politicized. There is a great need to reenergize efforts at the Council to provide protection to Syrian citizens and ensure accountability for crimes committed in the country.
We believe a high level panel featuring the voices of victims and eye-witnesses to crimes committed in Syria, and which allows those directly affected by the violence to offer their views on the need for accountability for such crimes will be an effective means to increase visibility and political urgency on this issue at the Council.
We also believe that convening a high level panel can and should be used to help ensure that the issue of accountability and redress for victims and their families is strengthened within future resolutions at the Council and ongoing UN peace talks.
We thank you for your consideration of this request. We remain at your service should you require any further information.
With Assurances of Our Highest Consideration,
Ziad Abdel Tawab
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
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