Security Council has ‘failed’ Syria: U.N. human rights chief

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The Security Council has “failed” to end the spiralling conflict in Syria, U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay said on Monday.

“The Security Council has so far failed with regard to Syria,” Pillay told ministers at the 22nd session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

U.N. General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic joined Pillay in criticizing the international community’s inaction.

“For close to two years, the international community has failed to put a stop to the carnage,” he said. “The immediate cessation of hostilities should be our foremost priority.”

Pillay said her office had pushed repeatedly for the Security Council to refer the conflict to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

“Two important situations -- Darfur in 2008 and Libya in 2011 -- have been referred” by the Security Council, but it had not done the same for Syria, “despite the repeated reports of widespread or systematic crimes and violations by my office” and a wide range of other sources, she said.

The ICC can only probe war crimes if asked to by the Security Council.

In its latest report published earlier this month, a U.N. commission of inquiry found that war crimes by government forces and rebels in Syria were spiralling amid an increasingly radicalized and sectarian conflict.

The United Nations estimates that more than 70,000 people have died in the two years since President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown began on anti-regime protesters.

The Security Council is split between Western members, and Assad’s allies Russia and China.

Both countries have vetoed Security Council resolutions that would have put greater pressure on the Syrian regime.

Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter reiterated his country’s call for the conflict to be referred to the ICC.

The world is witnessing a “human catastrophe, a humanitarian catastrophe” in Syria, he told the HRC.

Switzerland last month filed a petition signed by 52 countries calling for the ICC to open a case on war crimes in Syria.

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