UN / Geneva: NPWJ and NRPTT convene Side Event on "Syria: Focus on Children"

27th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Geneva, 16 September 2014

On the occasion of the 27th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, No Peace Without Justice and the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT), together with Syrian partners, convened a Side Event on "Syria: Focus on Children", which was held on 16 September 2014 (from 16h00 to 18h30, Palais des Nations, Room XXI). The meeting was co-sponsored by the Governments of Italy, Belgium, France, Liechtenstein and Qatar.
Panelists of the meeting, which was co-Chaired by Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, Secretary General No Peace Without Justice and Hussein Sabbagh, Secretary General of Euro-Syrian Democratic Forum, included Amb. Peter Matt, Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein to the UN, Paolo Cuculi, Permanent Mission of Italy to the UN, Noura Al-Ameer, Vice President of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, Haitham Al Maleh, President of the Legal Committee of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, Hisham Marwah, Member of the Legal Committee of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, Hani Al-Malazi, Presenter and Producer Al-Aan TV, Majd Kam al-Maz, Psychophysiologist, Director of International Institute for Psychosocial Development, Fedaa Al-Majzoub, Academic Researcher and Member of the Syrian National Movement, Bassam Al-Ahmad, representative of the Violations Documentation Center in Syria, and Alison Smith, Legal Counsel and Director of the International Criminal Justice Program for No Peace Without Justice.
What is happening in Syria is a humanitarian and human rights disaster that disproportionately affects civilians, particularly children and young people. The purpose of this side event is to highlight the gross human rights violations that have been and continue to be committed on a daily basis all across Syria and to promote accountability as acrucial and effective means to serve the cause of peace and security in Syria.
After more than three years of war, the plight of the Syrian population remains dire and continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate. According to OCHA, around 9.3 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, including 6.5 million people who are internally displaced. In his first report on the situation of children and armed conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic, the UN Secretary-General reports on the “countless killings and the maiming of children” and numerous violations of children’s rights. Since November 2011, the UN’s independent international Commission of Inquiry has documented patterns of summary executions, enforced disappearance, torture, rape and other sexual- and gender-based violence, forced displacement, starvation and city siege - crimes that have a disproportionate impact on children and young people.
This side event focused on key topics aimed at highlighting the impact of the conflict on children and young people and ensure accountability for the crimes committed against them:

  • Legal Framework for protection and redress;
  • Children and specific crimes: Child recruitment or use in hostilities; children as targets of detention and torture
  • The impact of specific violations: Starvation as a method of war, displacement
  • Participation of children and young people in accountability and peace processes 

Providing accountability for the crimes and ensuring the participation of children and young people is the only way to help breaking the cycle of impunity that is ravaging Syria. Accountability needs to become the centerpiece of any international efforts on Syria to bring justice for the Syrian people, ensure today’s children can grow up in a safe and secure environment and prevent cycles of violence in future generations.

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NPWJ’s Syria Project on Justice and Accountability
NPWJ project aims at reducing the expectation and rewards of impunity and at building a culture of accountability. The purpose is to equip citizens to demand accountability and justice for violations taking place on a daily basis for the past three years and, at the same time, to equip the judiciary and legal profession to answer that demand. The mainstay of the project is a series of advocacy and training events, which are being held in Gaziantep, Turkey, near the Syrian border, with Syrian judges, lawyers and civil society activists from Syria who can bring the skills and (perhaps more importantly) aspirations for justice back to their work and their constituents inside Syria. The long-term goal of this project is to promote democracy and human rights protection through incorporating justice and accountability in decision-making on conflict resolution and stability, development, and reconstructing planning in Syria. The project’s strategic objective is to support Syrian civil society playing an active role on justice and accountability issues, including advocacy and documenting human rights violations, including receiving, gathering, collecting, collating, processing and securely storing information, documentation and materials and analyse it for the purpose of establishing what happened and reconstructing decision-making processes that resulted in violations international humanitarian and human rights law in Syria since March 2011.
For more information, please contact  Gianluca Eramo on geramo@npwj.org or Enrica Barago on ebarago@npwj.org or +41 766 240905.