Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


Human Rights Council - 24th Regular Session

Item 4

Australian statement for the Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on the Arab Republic and the Special Rapporteur on Internally Displaced Persons

16 September 2013

Australia is deeply concerned by the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime in Damascus on 21 August, resulting in the loss of so many lives. Any use of chemical weapons is a violation of international law and cannot be tolerated.

We fully support measures that would result in the securing and dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons stock and for Syria to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Australia thanks the Commission of Inquiry for its latest reports on Syria and for its continued documentation of evidence of serious violations of international law. The deliberate creation of civilian suffering as a military tactic is deplorable and directly violates international humanitarian law. Those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity – whether government, pro-government or anti-government - must be brought to justice.

Reports of sexual violence in detention centres, and the abduction and rape of women and girls by government forces and militia are particularly disturbing. We are also appalled by the violations of children’s rights, including detention and torture, and the recruitment of under-aged soldiers, by both pro and anti-government groups.

We continue to call for the unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief to civilians, including essential medical care and supplies, as well as for the protection of medical staff.

Australia agrees with the Commission that a comprehensive and inclusive political solution is needed and we reaffirm our commitment to seek a peaceful political settlement through full implementation of the 2012 Geneva communique.