Motion for a resolution - B7-0413/2013Motion for a resolution
B7-0413/2013

    MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the situation in Syria

    10.9.2013 - (2013/2819(RSP))

    to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
    pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure

    Charles Tannock, Geoffrey Van Orden, Nirj Deva, Adam Bielan on behalf of the ECR Group

    See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0413/2013

    Procedure : 2013/2819(RSP)
    Document stages in plenary
    Document selected :  
    B7-0413/2013
    Texts tabled :
    B7-0413/2013
    Debates :
    Texts adopted :

    B7‑0413/2013

    European Parliament resolution on the situation in Syria

    (2013/2819(RSP))

    The European Parliament,

    –   having regard to its previous resolutions on Syria,

    –   having regard to the previous Foreign Affairs Council resolutions on Syria, most recently that of 22 July 2013,

    –   having regard to the previous statements by the High Representative / Vice President of the Commission on Syria,

    –   having regard to the UN General Assembly resolutions on Syria, in particular resolutions 67/262 of 15 May 2013, 66/253B of 3 August 2012, and 66/253 of 16 February 2012,

    –   having regard to its resolution of 22 May 2013 on the situation of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries[1],

    –   having regard to UN General Assembly resolution 60/1 of 24 October 2005, and in particular paragraphs 138-140 thereof on the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity,

    –   having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

    –   having regard to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the additional protocols thereto,

    –   having regard to the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, signed in Geneva on 17 June 1925,

    –   having regard to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction, signed in London, Moscow and Washington on 10 April 1972,

    –   having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol thereto on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, to all of which Syria is a party,

    –   having regard to the reports of 4 June, 22 March and 5 February 2013 of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, established on 22 August 2011 by the UN Human Rights Council,

    –   having regard to the Joint Communication on ‘A new Response to a Changing Neighbourhood’ of the European Commission and the High Representative to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, of 25 May 2011,

    –   having regard to the summary report of the high-level International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, held in Kuwait on 30 January 2013,

    –   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

    A. whereas the unrest and bloodshed in Syria is now in its third year, with no apparent immediate prospect of an end to the fighting;

    B.  whereas civil unrest and the Syrian authorities’ brutal repression of the Syrian people have dragged the country into a state of civil war, which in turn risks creating a wider regional conflict;

    C. whereas more than 100 000 Syrians have been killed since the fighting began;

    D.  whereas the total number of registered Syrian refugees is now put at more than two million, with around four million Syrians displaced;

    E.  whereas President Assad has repeatedly ignored countless calls by the international community to put an end to the horrific violence in Syria;

    F.  whereas violence, such as the use of heavy artillery and shelling against populated areas, and the horrific killings by the Syrian army and security forces and the Shabiha, as well as by various opposition forces, have continued to escalate;

    G. whereas there have been several massacres and mass-targeted (point-blank) killings of men, women and children;

    H. whereas the use of torture, mass arrests and widespread destruction of populated areas has dramatically escalated over the last months;

    I.   whereas the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has claimed that the Syrian conflict is much more than a humanitarian crisis and risks spreading across the region, escalating into a political, security and humanitarian disaster that would completely overwhelm the international response capacity;

    J.   whereas thousands of Syrians are fleeing the fighting on a daily basis to neighbouring countries in search of safety and protection, only to remain vulnerable in refugee camps;

    K. whereas the countries most dramatically impacted by the conflict and the refugee outflow are Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey;

    L.  whereas on 21 August 2013 Eastern Ghouta was shelled, with residents reporting immediate symptoms including convulsions, choking and lack of muscle control as a result of the deployment of chemical weapons;

    M. whereas the attack left a reported 1 300 people dead, including around 400 children, and hundreds more injured, in an area that had already been bombarded by the regime’s forces on a daily basis, making it impossible to provide the simplest necessities of life for hundreds of thousands of residents, as reported by the Centre for Documentation of Violations in Syria;

    N. whereas numerous independent reports confirm the deployment of chemical weapons in the Eastern Ghouta attack;

    O. whereas the use of chemical weapons is a war crime that is proscribed under the Geneva Protocol and the Statute of the International Criminal Court;

    P.  whereas although Syria is one of a handful of countries which have yet to sign the UN’s Chemical Weapons Convention, it can be argued that the convention’s provisions apply nevertheless under international customary law;

    Q. whereas a team of UN weapons inspectors spent four days in Syria investigating the use of chemical weapons on 21 August 2013 in Eastern Ghouta, under a mandate to assess whether chemical weapons were used but not who the perpetrators might have been;

    R.  whereas on 27 August 2013 the Arab League issued a statement which condemned the Syrian regime and accused President Assad of genocide, stating in unusually strong language that the regime is ‘fully responsible for the ugly crime’ and demanding that ‘all the perpetrators of this heinous crime be presented for international trials’;

    S.  whereas on 30 August 2013 the UN Security Council failed to agree on the necessary measures of intervention against President Assad’s breaches of international norms in the Syrian crisis;

    T.  whereas Parliament’s resolution of 18 December 2008 on development perspectives for peace-building and nation building in post-conflict situations[2] clearly states the following: ‘Stresses that ‘Responsibility to Protect’ should be considered as a means to promote human security; by stressing that the primary responsibility for the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity against a population lies within the state itself, reinforces the responsibility of each government towards the protection of its own citizens; considers, however, that where governments are unable or unwilling to provide such protection then the responsibility to take appropriate action becomes the collective responsibility of the wider international community; notes further that such action should be preventive as well as reactive, and only involve the use of coercive military force as an absolute last resort’;

    1.  Deplores the violence, intimidation and torture perpetrated against men, women and children by those engaged in the internal conflict in Syria;

    2.  Condemns in the strongest possible terms the mass killing of civilians with chemical weapons on 21 August 2013; notes with grave concern that this is the largest mass killing with chemical weapons since the attack perpetrated by Saddam Hussein’s forces which killed around 5 000 Iraqi Kurds in Halabja, northern Iraq in 1988; emphasises that the use of chemical weapons is illegal under international law, that breaches must have serious consequences, and that Syria is one of a very small number of countries not party to the International Chemical Weapons Convention, but is party to the 1925 Geneva Protocol which prohibits the use of chemical weapons;

    3.  Believes that the use of chemical weapons, which together with atomic and biological weapons are weapons of mass destruction (WMD), cannot remain without a response and that the international community should, ideally working under the auspices of the UN consider all options under international law by way of its response to the 21 August attack;

    4.  Believes that the international community has a moral duty to react to protect the civilian population and to avoid any risk that chemical weapons or other WMD may again be used in the conflict;

    5.  Calls on the UN to complete, as soon as possible, a thorough investigation of the mass killings in Syria of 21 August 2013 and assess responsibilities;

    6.  Regrets the failure of the UN Security Council to take action in response to the Syrian crisis;

    7.  Urges the UN Security Council to address the mass killing in Syria and the contravention of international conventions on the basis of the conclusions of the UN panel of experts and respond as a matter of urgency to the use of chemical weapons in Syria;

    8.  Calls, in particular, on Russia and China, as permanent members of the UN Security Council, to face their responsibility, and to facilitate the achievement of a common position and a solution to the Syrian crisis; deplores the repeated use of the veto by Russia and China as permanent UN Security Council members regarding the Syria situation, thus preventing the international community from imposing peace and security in the region as required by the UN Charter;

    9.  Notes the statement by the Arab League of 27 August 2013 calling on the international community as represented in the UN Security Council to ‘overcome internal disagreements and take action against those who committed this crime, for which the Syrian regime is responsible’;

    10. Stresses that the situation in Syria warrants a coherent, united approach by the NATO allies, EU Member States and the wider international community; calls, therefore, on the EU and its Member States to assess what measures the Union could adopt to support the democratic forces in the Syrian opposition, facilitate dialogue and a common approach with other international players, including the Arab League, and provide further humanitarian assistance to the population in Syria and in neighbouring countries;

    11. Calls on the international community and all actors involved in the Syrian conflict to work towards convening the Geneva II conference with a shared desire of securing a political solution to the fighting in Syria; further encourages the international community to engage in concrete planning for a post-Assad democratic transition in Syria;

    12. Calls for the establishment of an international commission of inquiry, to be granted access, alongside UN weapons inspectors, in order not only to document and verify the specific use of chemical weapons but also to establish the parties responsible for the criminal use of chemical weapons;

    13. Calls for the prosecution of those responsible for crimes against humanity and for widespread, systematic and gross human rights violations, and for those persons to be referred by the UN Security Council to the Office of the Prosecutor in order to be indicted following investigation at the International Criminal Court in The Hague;

    14. Expresses its grave concern at the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria and the implications for the neighbouring countries; is further concerned at the fact that the exodus of refugees from Syria continues to accelerate;

    15. Regrets the failure of the recent G20 summit in St Petersburg to agree on a united international response to the 21 August chemical weapons attack in Syria;

    16. Commends the response of the governments of neighbouring countries, in particular Turkey and Lebanon, in providing humanitarian support to Syrian refugees; acknowledges that providing this support has put additional pressure on existing services and budgets in those countries; calls on the international community to support the countries thus affected;

    17. Shares the concerns raised by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator to the effect that ordinary people are paying the price for the failure to end a conflict which has resulted in 2 million refugees and 100 000 deaths to date;

    18. Notes that President Assad, as the constitutional and legal head of the Syrian state, bears ultimate responsibility for all actions carried out by the armed forces in Syria; further urges President Assad to recognise the rejection of his regime by the Syrian people and to step aside in the best interests of his country and the unity of its people;

    19. Calls for all in Syria to subscribe to the principles of human rights and democracy and to engage with the international community in bringing the conflict to a peaceful conclusion;

    20. Recognises the urgent need to focus international and regional efforts in order to solve the Syrian crisis; continues to urge all members of the UN Security Council to uphold their responsibilities regarding the crisis; urges all countries active in promoting a solution to the crisis to support these efforts; believes this process should be based on the principles included in the Geneva communiqué of 30 June 2012 and on UN Security Council resolution 2042;

    21. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, the Government and Parliament of the Syrian Arab Republic, and the governments and parliaments of Syria’s neighbour countries.