Uniting for peace in Syria: Global civil society appeals to UN Member States

Published: 2nd December 2016

The UN Security Council has failed Syrians. In almost six years of conflict, close to half a million people have been killed and eleven million have been forced to leave their homes. Most recently, the Syrian and Russian governments and their allies have carried out unlawful attacks on eastern Aleppo with scant regard for some 250,000 civilians trapped there. Armed opposition groups have also fired mortars and other projectiles into civilian neighborhoods of western Aleppo, though according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “indiscriminate airstrikes across the eastern part of the city by Government forces and their allies are responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties.” Efforts to stop these atrocities and hold those responsible to account have been blocked repeatedly by Russia, which continues to misuse its veto power in the Security Council. 

The UN’s special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has warned that the UN must not allow “another Srebrenica, another Rwanda, which we are sadly ready to recognize written on that wall in front of us, unless something takes place.” Yet, there is no sign that the Security Council deadlock will end anytime soon. The guardian of international peace and security has failed to fulfill its task under the UN Charter and has failed to uphold its responsibility to protect the Syrian people.

This is why we, Oxfam - as part of a global coalition of 223 civil society organizations - urgently call upon UN member states to step in and request an Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly to demand an end to all unlawful attacks in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria, and immediate and unhindered humanitarian access so that life-saving aid can reach all those in need. Member states should also explore possible avenues to bring perpetrators of serious crimes under international law on all sides to justice. 

We welcome Canada’s leadership in seeking UN General Assembly action and we strongly urge all Member States to join the 73 countries from all regions by endorsing their initiative. These countries should work toward an Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly at the earliest opportunity, as UN member states have done in the past when the Security Council was deadlocked. 

We call in particular upon the 112 supporters of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency (ACT) Code of Conduct, which includes a pledge to support “timely and decisive action” aimed at preventing or ending the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes, to join this effort and actively promote meaningful action through the UN General Assembly. 

Inaction should not be an option. UN member states should use all the diplomatic tools at their disposal to stop the atrocities and protect the millions of civilians in Syria. History will judge harshly those that fail to step up. 

Notes to editors

1.       ABBAD 
2.       Abrar Halap Association for Relief and Development* 
3.       ActionAid International 
4.       Action des Chrétiens pour l'Abolition de la Torture (ACAT) 
5.       Afghanistan Global Civil Society Consortium (AGCSC) 
6.       Africa Atrocities Watch 
7.       African Centre for Transitional Justice (ACT-J) 
8.       African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET) 
9.       Ahl Horan* 
10.    Alkawakibi Organisation for Human Rights 
11.    Al Seeraj For Development And Healthcare* 
12.    Amnesty International 
13.    Amrha* 
14.    Antiwar Committee in Solidarity with the Struggle for Self-Determination 
15.    Arab Human Rights Organization - Libya 
16.    Arab Program for Human Rights Activists (APHRA) 
17.    Asia Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) 
18.    Assistance Mission for Africa (AMA) 
19.    Associação Brasileira de Organizações Não Governamentais (Brazilian Association of NGOs) 
20.    Association For Promotion Sustainable Development 
21.    Association Medina 
22.    Assyrian Human Rights Network (AHRN) 
23.    Association de Soutien aux Médias Libres (ASML) 
24.    Attaa for Relief and Development (ARD)* 
25.    Attaa Association* 
26.    Avaaz 
27.    Badayl-Goa 
28.    Badhon Human Development Organization (Badhon Manob Unnayan Sangstha) 
29.    Balad Syria Organization* 
30.    Basmeh & Zeitooneh For Relief and Development 
31.    Basmet Amal Charity* 
32.    Baytna Syria 
33.    Big Heart Foundation 
34.    Bihar Relief Organization* 
35.    BINAA for Development 
36.    Bonyan* 
37.    Bridge of Peace 
38.    Broederlijk Delen 
39.    Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) 
40.    Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace 
41.    Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) 
42.    Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) 
43.    CARE International 
44.    Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) 
45.    Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) 
46.    Center for the Development of International Law (CDIL) 
47.    Center for Conflict Resolution (CECORE) 
48.    Christian Aid UK 
49.    Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) 
50.    Collectif pour une Syrie Libre et Démocratique 
51.    Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) 
52.    Concern Worldwide 
53.    Conectas Human Rights 
54.    Control Arms Foundation of India 
55.    Council for Arab-British Understanding (Caabu) 
56.    CCFD-Terre Solidaire 
57.    Damascene House Foundation for Society Development* 
58.    Deir Elzzor United Association - FURAT* 
59.    Democratic Republic Studies Center 
60.    Doctors of the World UK 
61.    East African Civil Society Organisations' Forum (EACSOF) 
62.    Economic Justice Network Sierra Leone 
63.    Education without borders - MIDAD* 
64.    Emaar AL Sham Humanitarian Association* 
65.    Emissa for Development 
66.    End Impunity Organization (EIO) 
67.    Enjaz Development foundation* 
68.    Equitas 
69.    EuroMed Rights (Euro-Mediterranean Network for Human Rights) 
70.    Foundation for Democracy and Accountable Governance (FODAG) 
71.    Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights 
72.    Fundación Jóvenes y Desarrollo 
73.    Ghiath Matar Foundation* 
74.    Ghiras Al Nahda* 
75.    Ghiras Syria* 
76.    Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect 
77.    GOAL 
78.    Greater Upper Nile, Bahr el Ghazal & Equatoria Youth Association (GUBEYA) 
79.    Insan for Psychosocial Support* 
80.    Halina Niec Legal Aid Centre (HNLAC) 
81.    Help 4Syria 
82.    Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia (MHC) 
83.    Humanitarian Relief Association - IYD* 
84.    Human Appeal 
85.    Human Rights Documentation Organization (HURIDO) 
86.    Human Rights First Society - Saudi Arabia 
87.    Human Rights Now (HRN) 
88.    Human Rights Watch (HRW) 
89.    Hungarian Helsinki Committee 
90.    Instituto Brasileiro de Analises Sociais e Economicas (IBASE) 
91.    ICJ Kenya 
92.    IHH Humantiarian Relief Foundation 
93.    Independent Doctors Association (IDA) 
94.    Insan for Psychosocial Support 
95.    Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos (INESC) 
96.    Institute for Promotion of Civil Society (IPCS) 
97.    Instituto Igarapé 
98.    Intercultural Resources 
99.    International Alert 
100.  International Association of World Peace Advocates 
101.  International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) 
102.  International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) 
103.  International Humanitarian Relief* 
104.  International Rescue Committee (IRC) 
105.  International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) 
106.  International Supporting Woman Association - ISWA* 
107.  International Youth For Africa (IYA) 
108.  Irtiqaa Foundation* 
109.  Jonglei Development Agency (JODA) 
110.  Jugend Eine Welt – Don Bosco Aktion Österreich 
111.  Karam Foundation 
112.  Kesh Malek 
113.  KHOJ 
114.  Latvian Platform for Development Cooperation (LAPAS) 
115.  Maram Foundation for Relief & Development* 
116.  Médecins du Monde France 
117.  Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) 
118.  Middle East and North Africa Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (MENAPPAC) 
119.  Misiones Salesianas 
120.  Mother of Hope Cameroon (MOHCAM) 
121.  Mountain Foundation* 
122.  Najda now* 
123.  Nasaem Khair* 
125.  Non C'è Pace Senza Giustizia (No Peace Without Justice) 
126.  Norwegian Church Aid 
127.  Nuon Organization for Peace-Building 
128.  Ohaha Family Foundation (OFF) 
129.  Organization for Non-violence and Development (ONAD) 
130.  Orient for Human Relief* 
131.  Oxfam International 
132.  Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) 
133.  PAX 
134.  Pax Christi Flanders 
135.  Peace and Development Collaborative Organization (PDCO) 
136.  People in Need (PIN) 
137.  People's Action For Rural Awakening (PARA) 
138.  People's Empowerment Foundation (PEF) 
139.  Permanent Peace Movement (PPM) 
140.  Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) 
141.  Protection Approaches 
142.  Qitaf Al Khair Relief Association* 
143.  Quaker Peace and Social Witness 
144.  Radanar Ayar Rural Development Association 
145.  Relief International 
146.  Relief & Reconciliation for Syria 
147.  Rethink Rebuild Society 
148.  Revivre 
149.  Rideau Institute 
150.  Rwanda Green Initiative 
151.  Saed Charity Association* 
152.  Sanayee Development Organization (SDO) 
153.  Save A Soul* 
154.  Save the Children 
155.  Sedra Association For Charity* 
156.  Shama Association* 
157.  Shaml Coalition 
158.  Snabel Al Khyr* 
159.  Solidarity Ministries Africa for Reconciliation & Development (SMARD) 
160.  Souria Houria 
161.  South Solidarity Initiative 
162.  South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms (SSANSA) 
163.  South Sudan Christian Community Agency (SSCCA) 
164.  South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy (SSHURSA) 
165.  South Sudan Law Society (SSLS) 
166.  South Sudan Youth Peace and Development Organization (SSYPADO) 
167.  South Sudanese Diaspora Civil Society Network (SSDCSN) 
168.  Sri Lanka-United Nations Friendship Organisation (SUNFO) 
169.  STAND 
170.  Stichting Vluchteling (Netherlands Refugee Foundation) 
171.  SUDO (UK) 
172.  Syria Charity 
173.  Syria NGO Alliance 
174.  Syria Relief* 
175.  Syria Relief and Development (SRD) 
176.  Syria Relief Network (SRN) 
177.  Syria Relief Organization* 
178.  Syrian American Council 
179.  Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) 
180.  Syrian Center For Legal Studies and Research 
181.  Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) 
182.  Syrian Center for Statistics and Research (CSR-SY) 
183.  Syrian Education Commission - SEC* 
184.  Syrian Engineers For Construction and Development Organization - SECD* 
185.  Syrian Expatriate Medical Association - SEMA* 
186.  Syrian Institute for Justice and accountability 
187.  Syrian Institute for Justice 
188.  Syrian League for Citizenship 
189.  Syrian Medical Mission* 
190.  Syrian Network for Human Rights 
191.  Syrian Orphans Organization* 
192.  Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ) 
193.  Takaful Al Sham Charity Organization* 
194.  Tearfund 
195.  The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) 
196.  The Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence (KontraS) 
197.  The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) 
198.  The Red Elephant Foundation 
199.  The Syria Campaign 
200.  The Syrian Establishment for Human Care & Enhancement – MASRRAT* 
201.  The Violations Documentation Center in Syria (VDC) 
202.  Trócaire‎ 
203.  Tuba Dernegi* 
204.  Unified Revolutionary Medical Bureau in East Gouta* 
205.  Union Of Syrians Abroad* 
206.  URNAMMU 
207.  Vision GRAM-International 
208.  Voice for Change (VFC) 
209.  War Child 
210.  White Hands - Beyaz Eller* 
211.  Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) 
212.  Women Monthly Forum 
213.  World Federalist Movement–Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP) 
214.  World Renew 
215.  World Vision 
216.  Youth Forum on Foreign Policy 
217.  Youth for Peace and Development 
218.  Youth in Action Balochistan 
219.  Youth in Action Nepal 
220.  Yuwalaya 
221.  Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) 
222.  Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum 
223.  11.11.11 
*Members of the Syria Relief Network (SRN) 

Contact information

Joelle Bassoul, in Beirut: +961-71525218 | jbassoul@oxfam.org.uk

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