Joint Statement: Russia’s Role in Syria Raises Questions About Bid for Human Rights Council

Role in Syria Raises Questions

The United Nations General Assembly will select new members for the Human Rights Council in elections to be held in New York on October 28. Russia is running against Hungary and Croatia for a chance to represent the Eastern European group at the world’s foremost human rights body.

The undersigned organizations urge all member states, when deciding which Eastern European candidate to support, to question seriously whether Russia’s role in Syria – which includes supporting and undertaking military actions which have routinely targeted civilians and civilian objects – renders it fit to serve on the UN’s premier inter-governmental human rights institution.

UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251 asks that those voting for members of the Human Rights Council “take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights.” This guidance applies to candidates’ efforts to protect and promote human rights in their own countries and abroad.

Russia’s actions in Syria stand in clear contrast to its rhetorical commitment to human rights. Member States should particularly consider Russia’s indiscriminate attacks, its substantial weapons deliveries to the Syrian government and its efforts to prevent impartial accountability for serious crimes in Syria.

Moreover, Member States should consider Russia’s decision, on October 8, 2016, to veto a credible draft UN Security Council resolution aimed at ending atrocities in Aleppo. This was its fifth use of a veto on a resolution concerning Syria at the Security Council. Since September 19, 2016, Russian and Syrian forces have bombarded opposition-controlled parts of Aleppo. The attacks included the use of barrel bombs, cluster munitions, and incendiary weapons, and damaged or partially destroyed at least five hospitals in six separate attacks, Human Rights Watch research shows.

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