For Immediate Release: September 9, 2013
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First calls on the Obama Administration to immediately follow up on the comments made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that, “Russia would join any effort to put Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons under international control and ultimately destroy them.”
“This could be a diplomatic breakthrough in the Syria crisis,” said Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks. “For years, Russia has blocked multilateral action to put an end to the widespread violation of human rights, war crimes, and mass atrocities in Syria. The administration should put Minister Lavrov’s pledge to the test.”
Human Rights First notes that in response to Lavrov’s statement, the U.S. government should immediately prepare a resolution for consideration by the United Nations Security Council. The resolution should:
- Condemn the Assad regime for its use of chemical weapons in the attack on civilians on August 21;
- Require that the Assad regime turn over its stockpile of chemical weapons to international control for its destruction within seven days and submit to rigorous international monitoring to ensure compliance;
- Refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) so that war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the August 21 attacks, can be investigated and those responsible held accountable.
“Passage of a resolution by the Security Council would be a strong response by the international community to the August 21 chemical attacks,” said Hicks. “Given Russia’s track record on Syria, it’s easy to understand the administration’s skepticism about Lavrov’s pledge. Even so, the United States has a responsibility to explore all diplomatic avenues and formulate a broader strategy to address the atrocities in Syria before making a final decision about using military force. The increased diplomatic focus on Syria from the United States and the rest of the world in the aftermath of the chemical attacks provides an opportunity for long overdue, renewed multilateral efforts to bring about a negotiated settlement to the conflict and end the suffering of the Syrian people. The U.S. government should ensure that its actions with respect to Syria are focused on protecting civilians and ending the escalating conflict.”
For more information or to speak with Hicks, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at email@example.com or 202-370-3323.