The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has endorsed a resolution by the European Union that condemned the escalation of violence in Syria and called for the prosecution of the perpetrators.
The Geneva-based UNHRC also extended the mandate for its officials who are probing allegations of crimes against humanity being committed by Syrian military forces, including illegal detentions, extra-judicial executions and torture.
This resolution focuses on accountability for human rights violations committed by the Syrian authorities. Perpetrators must be held to account, Denmark's ambassador to the UN Steffen Smidt told the forum.
The resolution called on investigators to conduct and continuously update a mapping exercise of gross violations of human rights since March 2011 [when the uprising in Syria erupted], including an assessment of casualty figures.
Paulo Pinheiro, the head of a UN team investigating crimes committed by Syrian security forces, said, among other things, that women and children have been shot dead, residential areas have been bombarded by shells and wounded people in hospitals have been tortured – all under the approval from the highest level of army and government officials.
Reportedly, the Council has also drawn up a list of senior Syrian government officials it believes are responsible for the atrocities for possible future prosecution, perhaps by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Of the 47 delegations at the Geneva talks, 41 voted in favor of the resolutions against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Russia, China and Cuba voted against it. Two states abstained and one was absent.
However, Russia and China have already endorsed a six-point peace plan proposed by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan to resolve the Syrian crisis.
Annan will travel to Moscow and Beijing this weekend to shore up their support for his peace plan.
Separately, the UN and its humanitarian aid partners are seeking to raise $84 million to assist Syrian refugees who have fled into Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey since the conflict erupted.
The plan is based on an estimate that in the next six months assistance will be needed to support some 100,000 people. This will mainly comprise Syrian refugees, as well as some third-country nationals, UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told reporters in Geneva.
The plan does not cover humanitarian needs inside Syria. For that, a separate appeal, led by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA], is expected in the near future.”
Edwards added: Many [Syrian] refugees have arrived with limited means to cover basic needs, and those who could at first rely on savings or support from host families are now increasingly in need of assistance. Quick impact projects for the local communities and distribution of aid items are under way, while plans are being made for a cash assistance program.