Saturday, November 05, 2011

The Role of International Community to Promote Human Rights in Syria

courtesy: Wikipedia
Syria uprising has been influenced by the concurrent protest and successful pro-democratic movement in the region especially in the Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. After the fall of Gadhaffi regime in Libya, the opposition ‘radical’ groups are calling for the resignation of the president Bashar al-Assad for the democratization in Syria. There are number of options open to international community to interferences in Syria such as military, economic and diplomatic. However, it is hard to say what can be the best option to promote human rights and justices in Syria because there are still the substantial numbers of populations who support the authorities and recently around 2 million people protest against western interferences. Before we provide the best solution to stop violence in Syria from my point of view, we need to go to the history and find out how the revolution or violence happened in Syria. It would be unfair just to take one stand either from government or opposing groups. Currently, there are debates on whether the external interferences would be the best option to stop human rights issues in Syria or not.

Supporters for Assad Regim @Courtesy Google
When the protests first erupted, the protesters clamored for the repeal of the emergency laws, democratic elections, presidential term limits, freedom of expression and an independent judiciary and equal rights for Kurds. It clearly shows that the problem started with political problems and the solution should also be found within the political framework. I firmly believe that problems emanate within Syria and the problem should be solved from inside. Interruption from outside may pose a greater damage and might escalate the problem.  Interruption also endangers more lives of civilians. Therefore, Syria unrest is the matter of “domestic affairs” and every country should respect the sovereignty of Syria. Syrian has right to self determination to decide about their country. This does not mean that I am supporting the Asad’s regime. States must respect the “peaceful” protest and the aspirations of their citizens, but it is also the states responsibility to protect those citizens when protestors involve in violent action. The violence in Syria is the conflict of political approaches so the solution should be found within the political framework rather than providing arms, weapons and any other support by international communities that can foster war and violence.

On, the other hand, the government is blaming foreign conspiracies for the situation because there have been several reports that after the fall of Gadhaffi regime, the “radical” opposing groups have been supported and are expecting foreign sponsors especially for supporting weapons to them, calling international community to declare “no fly zone” and acting outside the law. We need to understand that violence do not start from one side given the facts that the “radical” opposing groups are demanding for the death of the president by hanging and even killing numerous soldiers. This forces us to ponder, Is Syria the next Libya? Is President Al-Assad the nest Gadhaffi? We need to find out the legitimate actor to bring the violence and should be taken to the fair trial. Violence is unaccepted at any cost whoever the perpetrators are.

@courtesy Google

In September, the EU imposed an embargo on crude oil imports and banned EU firs from investment in Syria’s oil industry. US also declared an economic sanction against Syria. I personally do not think that economic sanctions (especially oil embargo, sanctions on banks and telecoms) against Syria will solve the promote human rights in the country rather should banned all the sale and support of weapons and purchase of arms to Syria not only to the authorities but also to protestors.  The economic sanction should be immediately withdraw against Syria because it might further exacerbate the situation. I am glad that the UN Security Council fails to adopt draft resolution condemning Syria’s crackdown because the history has clearly shows that any external interferences that starts with economic sanction either lead to the greater casualties of human lives or ended up with military interferences. For instance, in Iraq from 1990-2003 is one of the examples that shows economic sanctions directly and negatively affected innocent people rather than despotic leaders. Another example is also the North Korea where economic sanctions failed to collapse the leaders rather it has affected millions of people who are starve to death.
Human Rights groups reported that the death toll ranged above 3000 and over 10,000 people has been arrested by authorities and several armies have been killed by protestors. However there is no exact information about casualties and human rights violation by protestors and authorities. Most of the videos and reports are based on the protestor’s side. Therefore, the separate commission should immediately establish to inquiry, investigate all alleged violations of human rights law by the authorities and protestors.
@Courtesy Google
There is a fear that the collapse of the president might “provoke conflict, destabilize the region and create a destructive impact on the Middle East.” I even doubt if the resignation/collapse of president would bring any significant changes. Considering the situation of Syria, the best way out of the situation is to refuse a conflict and bring parties together to devise intra-Syrian political process. In doing so, Qatar and the Arab League can play the mediation activities in freeing detainees who haven’t committed crime, create an environment to foster peaceful dialogue with authorities and opposition groups and force the government to follow on reform and favor gradual change. On the other hand, the opposition groups should immediately give up armed insurrection and engage with authorities for peaceful dialogue. In this case, the international community can request opposite group to come forward for peace discussion.
This is the personal opinion of the author and is based on the debate during the class MAINS Global Human Rights. Author would like to thanks all the participants for their meaningful contribution.

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