The United Nations (UN) refreshed calls to hold those responsible for the suffering of millions of Syrian citizens to account. Charges are being placed on the Assad regime from all sides, calling on the government to allow humanitarian aid to get through to those most in need.
Calls for justice have been touted by UN aid workers in Syria, all the way up to the UN’s executive leadership. Whilst speaking at a UN event hosted by New York University Stern School of Business, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for the need to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) due to many repeated instances of the Assad regime’s continued disallowing of access of humanitarian aid to civilians.
Stephen O’Brien, the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, also gave a speech at a UN meeting, categorising the ongoing situation in Syria as sustained “siege” and constant “starvation” . He stressed that humanitarian aid thus far has not reached besieged areas, pointing out that hospitals and health centers are under daily attack in Syria. He further stipulated that millions in Syria suffering from a lack of food and water, stressing that seven million children are subjected to violence.
There have been several attempts already to place sanctions on Syria as a result of his actions during the ongoing Syrian civil war which began in 2011. The latest attempt was in February where France, the UK and US called for sanctions to be imposed on Assad over chemical weapons use. This was vetoed by both Russia and China, however, with Russian President Vladimir Putin describing the draft resolution as “totally inappropriate”.
Russia has been a long standing ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad dating back before the beginning of the war. To date, Russia has vetoed sanctions against Syria seven times. In spite of this, France, the UK and US, are three of the five permanent members of the UN’s Security Council that continue to exert diplomatic pressure on Assad and Russia to take responsibility for their actions in Syria.