Opening Statement by Ms. Navi Pillay
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Geneva, 9 September 2013
"In September two years ago, when I addressed the situation in Syria at this Council, I pointed out that some 2,600 Syrians had already died in the conflict.
Today the number of dead stands at over 100,000. Last week the number of refugees reached two million, and an additional 4 million people are displaced inside Syria.
Camps in neighbouring lands are struggling to cope and we are just a few months away from winter. The suffering ofSyria's civilian population has reached unimaginable levels.
The use of chemical weapons has long been identified as one of the gravest crimes that can be committed, yet their use in Syria seems now to be in little doubt, even if all the circumstances and responsibilities remain to be clarified.
Mr. President, Excellencies,
The International Community is late, very late, to take serious joint action to halt the downward spiral that has gripped Syria, slaughtering its people and destroying its cities. This is no time for powerful States to continue to disagree on the way forward, or for geopolitical interests to override the legal and moral obligation to save lives by bringing this conflict to an end.
This appalling situation cries out for international action, yet a military response or the continued supply of arms risk igniting a regional conflagration, possibly resulting in many more deaths and even more widespread misery. There are no easy exits, no obvious pathway out of this nightmare, except the immediate negotiation of concrete steps to end the conflict. States, together with the United Nations, must find a way to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table and halt the bloodshed."