Syria's delegation at today's UN human rights review was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Bashar Ja'afari (center) and Hussein Edin Aala, ambassador to the UN in Geneva (left).

Syria Praised on Human Rights at UN Review

GENEVA, January 24, 2022 — Country speakers taking the floor today at the UN Human Rights Council showered praise on Syria during a mandatory human rights review that all UN member states undergo every five years. (See quotes below).

While the UN procedure known as Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is meant to scrutinize governments and thereby strengthen the basic rights and freedoms of their citizens, according to a UN Watch count, 50 out of 91 countries that spoke today at the UNHRC (55 percent) praised Syria for its human rights achievements, or otherwise failed to hold the regime accountable.

“Fewer than half the speakers used their allotted one minute of speaking time to apply real scrutiny to Syria’s human rights record,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, an independent non-governmental human rights organization in Geneva.

“The truth is that Syria’s Assad regime has massacred thousands of civilians, bombing hospitals and using chemical weapons in breach of international law,” said Neuer. “Yet these crimes against humanity and war crimes were ignored by a majority of speakers today.”

“Instead, fellow dictatorships like China, Belarus and Iran were reading off the same talking points, seeking to blame Syria’s ills on Western sanctions or on ‘terrorists,’ in order to grant a free pass to the murderous Assad regime.”

• Texts of country speeches
• Video

Below is a selection of the praise expressed by UNHRC delegates:

Burundi: “We congratulate Syria for active participation in the work of different UN committees in charge of the promotion and respect of international law. We praise the efforts taken by the country to mitigate the negative impact of the crisis.”

Belarus: “We take a positive view of the progress achieved in conditions of a continued war against terrorism and unilateral sanctions, and efforts by the government of Syria to protect and promote the rights of the citizens and to restore peaceful life merit full praise.”

China: “We recognize the efforts of the Syrian government to safeguard national unity, promote economic and social reconstruction, improve livelihoods and combat terrorism. We call on the international community to respect and protect Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and respect the people’s choice.”

Cuba: “Syria’s report reflects efforts to guarantee the human rights of its people in spite of the impact of war, interference, terrorism, and coercive measures imposed against the country by Western powers.”

Iran: “We commend the efforts done by the Syrian government to improve the standard of living in the country despite the severe economic impact of unilateral coercive measures [Western sanctions]….  We recommend Syria continues to monitor and document Israeli violations in the occupied Syrian Golan.”

Iraq: “We commend Syrian efforts to ensure women’s participation in national reconciliation.”

Venezuela: “Despite the continuing aggression that affects the life of the noble people of Syria, the fact that the government is here with us during this Universal Periodic Review reaffirms the commitment of the country to human rights. Venezuela supports the tireless efforts of Syria to protect its sovereignty and national unity in its fight against terrorism.”

Zimbabwe: “We note that during the period under review, Syria made great strides towards protecting the human rights of the Syrian people and fulfilling its international obligations in spite of the negative effects of the unilateral coercive measures that have been imposed on the country.”

Russia: “We welcome the establishment in Syria of a national committee to oversee and coordinate efforts to raise awareness of and bring national legislation into line with international humanitarian law. We positively assess Damascus’ readiness to cooperate with international mechanisms.”

Sri Lanka: “We commend Syria’s efforts to improve the human rights situation in the country which includes measures taken to combat terrorism and provision of humanitarian aid to displaced persons.”

Palestine: “The State of Palestine welcomes the Syrian delegation, and we thank it for the presentation of the report. We note the Syrian Arab Republic’s endeavor to improve the situation despite the difficult circumstances the country is going through, which we hope will end as soon as possible, and the need to preserve the unity and independence of Syria.’

UN Watch