The reporter for the United Nations General Assembly – Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee (SOCHUM), Harsha Sista, writes on the blatant violations of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic.
Syria is one of the most infamous countries today primarily because of the brutal civil war that it has been enduring for the past six years. Ever since the spread of the Arab Spring to Syria in 2011, government forces led by President Bashar al-Assad and rebel forces looking to overthrow him have been fighting. Neither side conclusively won any battle initially, leading to the prolongation of the war and the involvement of foreign powers and non-state actors.
While international politics may be busy trying to unravel the solution from this myriad web of conflict, the one thing that does not get as much importance is the upholding of human rights in the war-torn west Asian country. Almost all parties involved have committed grave offences against humanity but most of them do not have to face the consequences for it. Murder, rape, and torture are common phenomena on the streets of Syria. Attacking civilians is a war tactic employed to put pressure on the other parties and to create an atmosphere of fear among the civilians.
The government and the rebels also stop the supply of essential goods such as food and healthcare as a war strategy so that civilians can be subdued easily. They have also refused access to humanitarian agencies looking to alleviate the pain of the Syrian people. Thus, we see that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is nothing more than a piece of paper to the warring factions. The countless lives that could have been saved are being thrown away.
No matter what the result, it is the Syrian people who will ultimately lose. Their homeland is a battleground for a proxy war; their cities and homes are being reduced to ash and dust. Neither side really cares for the people and human rights are being broken with the utmost disdain.
The conflict has resulted in a mass exodus of refugees from Syria because they want to lead a better life than what their homeland has to offer. It is tough to choose between your homeland and security of life but it is evident that a large portion of the population values its lives more. This has in turn caused a refugee crisis, with neighbouring countries reluctant to accept so many refugees at once.
The United Nations (UN) has been trying to solve this humanitarian crisis for a long time but has failed to come up with a lasting solution. Whenever ceasefires have been implemented, humanitarian aid has been dispatched to the affected areas, but the relief generated is nowhere close to what it should be.
Is there a solution to this problem that is politically acceptable? Perhaps there is, but only time will tell if it is effective and lasting.