Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


UN Human Rights Council – 20th Session

Australian Statement for the Item 4 Interactive Dialogue with the

UN Deputy Special Envoy on Syria and the

Commission of Inquiry on Syria

27 June 2012

Australia greatly appreciates Deputy Special Envoy Guehenno’s report, and the oral update by the Commission of Inquiry. These reports follow the recent suspension of UNSMIS activities in light of the unacceptable risks posed by escalating violence in Syria – including instances in which UN observers’ vehicles have been targeted.

Australia, like the rest of the world, is horrified by the brutal massacres that took place in Houleh and Qabayr and by the execution-style killings in Deir Al-Zour and Qusair.

Hundreds of civilian deaths resulted - including many children.

We are appalled at the use of heavy weapons by the Syrian Government forces against civilian residents of Homs, Haffa and other Syrian towns.

And the violence continues as Syria descends further towards a state of civil war.

The perpetrators of serious international crimes and human rights violations on both sides must be brought to justice.

There is ample evidence of gross violations of human rights, including kidnappings, torture and extrajudicial executions.

Australia urges all countries to focus now on ensuring that we do not allow another massacre, such as Houleh, or worse, to occur.

Both the Assad Government and the Syrian opposition must respect and protect the welfare and rights of the Syrian people.

The flood of refugees is also taking its toll on Syria’s neighbours – Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq.

Kofi Annan’s six-point plan remains the best option for stopping the bloodshed and Australia, like the rest of the international community, fully supports it.

Australia continues to demand that the Assad Government immediately cease all violence and take steps to implement the plan, including withdrawing all military forces from population centres and starting an inclusive political process.

We urge the international community to come together and coordinate action to pressure the Syrian regime including through Chapter VII sanctions.

Australia has pledged $11 million in humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people and we stand ready to do more.

Australia introduced more robust sanction measures on 25 June which relate to sectors closely linked with the Government.

We urge Member States to work closely and urgently together to end the violence and protect the legitimate rights and aspirations of the Syrian people for a future of democracy, peace and hope.