Yesterday, August 3, The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) issued a presidential statement in which it for the first time condemned the mass human rights abuses and use of force by the Syrian government against its population. The statement called for an end to the violence by all parties involved.

Syria has been troubled by deadly civil unrest for several months now. Various sources claim that since the beginning of the anti-government protests in mid-March more than 1600 civilians have been killed by security forces. More than 2000 people have disappeared and many of those arrested have been beaten and tortured. More than 10.000 of the protesters are still in detention.

Although the UNSC statement - a step short of a more weighty SC resolution - that was agreed after weeks of protracted negotiations didn't mention the UN investigation into human rights violations that a number of European states on the Council had asked for at an earlier stage, the Security Council said that those responsible for the violence should be held accountable.

After the UNSC delivered its statement, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the statement sent a “clear message from the international community” to the Syrian authorities to stop their “brutally shocking” actions. He added that “[a]ll killings should be investigated fully, independently and transparently. Those responsible should be held to account.” He further urged the Syrian government to comply with the SC's demand to grant unimpeded access to international humanitarian organizations.

Here follows the full text of the UNSC Statement

“Presidential Statement

The full text of the presidential statement contained in document S/PRST/2011/16 reads as follows:

The Security Council expresses its grave concern at the deteriorating situation in Syria, and expresses profound regret at the death of many hundreds of people.

The Security Council condemns the widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities.

The Security Council calls for an immediate end to all violence and urges all sides to act with utmost restraint, and to refrain from reprisals, including attacks against state institutions.

The Security Council calls on the Syrian authorities to fully respect human rights and to comply with their obligations under applicable international law. Those responsible for the violence should be held accountable.

The Security Council notes the announced commitments by the Syrian authorities to reform, and regrets the lack of progress in implementation, and calls upon the Syrian Government to implement its commitments.

The Security Council reaffirms its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Syria.

It stresses that the only solution to the current crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process, with the aim of effectively addressing the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the population which will allow the full exercise of fundamental freedoms for its entire population, including that of expression and peaceful assembly.

The Security Council calls on the Syrian authorities to alleviate the humanitarian situation in crisis areas by ceasing the use of force against affected towns, to allow expeditious and unhindered access for international humanitarian agencies and workers, and co-operate fully with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The Security Council requests the Secretary-General to update the Security Council on the situation in Syria within seven days.”

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