For Immediate Release: September 23, 2013
New York City – Tomorrow as President Obama addresses the United Nations General Assembly, Human Rights First urges him to call for a Security Council resolution regarding the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and to outline a strategy for a negotiated end to the crisis in Syria.
“President Obama’s speech before the General Assembly must make clear the United States’ commitment to finding solutions that will protect civilians in Syria and bring this crisis to an end,” said Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks.
In his speech to the U.N. General Assembly President Obama should stress four points with respect to the ongoing crisis in Syria:
- The president should call for an immediate ceasefire and set out a strategy for a negotiated end to the Syrian conflict that is the root cause of the humanitarian crisis, and the context that led to the use of chemical weapons.
- The president should insist that the Security Council move quickly to pass a resolution reinforcing the diplomatic agreement on the destruction of the Assad regime’s arsenal of chemical weapons. The Council should:
- Condemn the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime;
- Demand the turnover of the weapons to international supervision within a specified time frame and require the Syrian regime to cooperate with rigorous international inspection to ensure compliance;
- Refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court so that the many war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated during the conflict can be investigated and those responsible brought to justice; and,
- Authorize the use of all necessary measures, including the use of force, should Syria fail to comply with the terms of the agreement.
- The president should call for a Security Council resolution requiring all parties to the conflict to permit humanitarian access to all parts of Syria so that the civilian population can receive the assistance it so desperately requires.
- The president should call on states to grant access to protection at borders for refugees fleeing the Syrian crisis and publicly call on other countries to contribute generously to international funding appeals to support Syrian refugees now seeking refuge in neighboring countries. The United States is already the leading single donor to these funds. Other wealthy countries should come forward at this time of great need.
The president should identify the Assad regime as the main perpetrator of mass atrocities in the Syrian conflict and describe the measures, short of military action, that the U.S. government is taking and will take to exert pressure on the Assad regime to end the conflict. These measures include tightening international sanctions on the regime and preventing the actors that enable them from providing weapons and material to support Assad’s mass atrocities.