Nicholas Hill
Deputy United States Representative for ECOSOC
New York, New York
April 8, 2022

AS DELIVERED

We thank the High Commissioner for the update and the team at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for their efforts. March marked the 11th consecutive year of a conflict that has caused massive suffering for the Syrian people, sparked by the Assad regime’s violent response in 2011 to peaceful protests by the Syrian people. The Syrian Network for Human Rights reported that approximately 1.2 million people have been detained since 2011, and that 152,000 Syrians remain in detention or enforced disappearance. The vast majority are held by the Syrian regime. We have heard from the families of detainees and survivors of the regime’s detention centers, who briefed the UN Security Council, the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council. They want answers and they deserve justice. We stress the importance of ensuring that Syrian voices, especially those of the families of the disappeared, are centered in UN reports and recommendations.

This study on how to strengthen efforts, including through existing measures and mechanisms, to clarify the fate and whereabouts of detainees and missing persons, is an opportunity to reinvigorate progress towards these important goals. Coordination and cooperation, both within the United Nations and with Syrian civil society and other stakeholders, is an integral part of any effort to build momentum and achieve progress on the release of detainees, access for international NGOs to detention centers and the provision of information on the status of detainees. these have disappeared. We encourage efforts to strengthen this coordination and identify existing gaps. We appreciate OHCHR’s victim-centred approach to this case. We encourage all relevant United Nations mandates on Syria and missing persons and relevant international organizations to strengthen coordination efforts with Syrian civil society on the issue of missing persons and detainees in Syria.

We have not forgotten the objectives of the peaceful protesters of March 2011, who called for an end to torture and demanded respect for human rights. Syrian human rights defenders – despite flagrant abuses – continue to courageously defend democracy and human rights. We are with them. We underscore the urgent need for an inclusive political solution that includes the release of arbitrarily detained Syrians, as unanimously agreed by the Security Council in resolution 2254.

The United States supports Syrian civil society organizations and UN documentation and accountability efforts, including the triple MI and IOC whose mandate was renewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council United last week. Documentation helps ensure that relevant information and evidence is appropriately collected, secured, analyzed and shared to promote accountability of those responsible for atrocities, violations and abuses in Syria.

We urge Member States to cooperate with OHCHR and support the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on the situation of human rights in Syria and the annual General Assembly resolution on the situation of human rights in Syria. We look forward to recommendations from the UN on how to strengthen measures to identify the fate of missing persons, including detainees, in Syria. Finally, my delegation fully agrees with our British colleague regarding the Iranian statement. We are not “politicizing” the situation in Syria, but rather seeking to ensure accountability.

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