Expressing frustration at the U.N. Security Council’s inability to stop the bombardment of the besieged Syrian City of Aleppo, a coalition of over 200 human rights groups is calling for the General Assembly to hold an emergency special session to demand an end to the attacks.
Sherine Tadros, head of Amnesty International’s U.N. office, said the 223 human rights and civil society organizations from 45 countries who have signed on in support of the appeal were just “a small but very potent indication of the frustration we all feel about the inability of the world body to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people.”
“The Security Council has failed the Syrian people for the past six years and the principle organ of the United Nations that was in fact created to maintain international peace and security is unable, unfit, unwilling to do so,” Tadros said. We are calling on member states of the General Assembly to step up and request an emergency special session.”
The appeal comes after Russia vetoed a U.N. resolution demanding an end to the aerial bombardment of Aleppo on Oct. 8, effectively blocking action in the 15-member Security Council, where it is one of five permanent, veto-holding members.
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Now, human rights groups are calling on member states to bring the matter before the full 193-member General Assembly, whose resolution are non-binding but sends a strong message from the international community.
The groups accuse the Russian-Syrian coalition of committing war crimes during the civil war, now in its sixth year, and especially month-long bombing campaign in eastern Aleppo where nearly a quarter of a million people continue to live under siege.
The groups said the bombing campaign deliberately targeted medical facilities, included the use of cluster bombs and incendiary weapons and killed more than 440 civilians, including over 90 children.
Louis Charbonneau, United Nations Director for Human Rights Watch, said that even though General Assembly resolutions don’t have the force of international law, they could take a number of actions including the appointment a prosecutor to collect evidence of war crimes for eventual trials.
“We just want them to move in the direction of accountability and any step they (the General Assembly) take in that direction will send a very strong message to the parties to the conflict that someday they may have to pay for what they’re doing,” Charbonneau said.