UN Human rights chief warns Russia over air strikes in Syria’s Aleppo

High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein said initiatives to resolve the situation in Aleppo should include proposals to limit use of veto by permanent members of UN Security Council.

By: Reuters | Geneva | Updated: October 5, 2016 3:17 pm
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, of Jordan, arrives for the opening of the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP) High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said initiatives to resolve the situation in besieged, rebel-held eastern Aleppo should include proposals to limit the use of the veto by the permanent members of the UN Security Council.

The United Nations human rights chief told Russia on Tuesday that air strikes on civilian targets in the Syrian city of Aleppo may amount to crimes against humanity which could be brought before the International Criminal Court. High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said initiatives to resolve the situation in besieged, rebel-held eastern Aleppo should include proposals to limit the use of the veto by the permanent members of the UN Security Council.

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This would enable major powers to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court, a step previously blocked by Russia and China.

“Such a referral would be more than justified given the rampant and deeply shocking impunity that has characterised the conflict and the magnitude of the crimes that have been committed, some of which may indeed amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Zeid said in a statement.

In New York, Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin dismissed Zeid’s proposal, telling reporters: “It’s not his responsibility to discuss veto powers.”

“Unfortunately my good friend has been overstepping the limits of his responsibilities quite a bit and this is unfortunate.” The Russian Defence Ministry did not respond to a request for comment. When asked how Russia viewed the suggestion of limiting the veto rights of permanent Security Council members, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Negatively”.

Last week Peskov said the Russian air force would continue to support Syrian government troops and that what he called the “war on terror” would continue.

Russia is the main military backer of President Bashar al-Assad.

Zeid said Syria’s government and its allies attacked targets protected by international law, including medical units, aid workers and water-pumping stations.

In the meantime, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said a battery of the S-300 air defense missile systems had been deployed to Syria to protect a Russian facility in the Syrian port of Tartus and Russian navy ships off the Mediterranean coast. Tartus is the only naval supply facility Russia has outside the former Soviet Union.

He said that dropping indiscriminate incendiary weapons in heavily populated areas was particularly concerning, as well as being banned by a treaty that Russia is bound by. He compared Aleppo to the World War Two battles of Warsaw and Stalingrad and the attack on Dresden, and said calling the enemy a “terrorist organisation” was not an excuse to ignore the laws of war.

The rebels’ use of inaccurate “hell-fire cannons”, homemade mortars that fire gas cylinders packed with explosives and shrapnel, was also totally unacceptable, he said.

The World Health Organization said that between Sept. 23 and Oct. 2, 342 people had been killed in eastern Aleppo, including 106 children, and 1,129 had been wounded, including 261 children. Those figures were based on reports from functioning health centres and the true figures were probably much higher, spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said.

“As of yesterday, we have now only six partially functional hospitals that are in service, only one hospital that offers trauma care services,” Chaib told the briefing.

WHO still hopes to be able to evacuate sick and wounded from Aleppo, she said.

The Syrian government has yet to respond to a UN plan for aid convoys in Syria during the month of October, UN spokesman Jens Laerke said.

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  1. G
    Gudla Deepak
    Oct 5, 2016 at 5:48 am
    UN and human Rights and all other such things are nothing but weapons in the hands of US and Europe that was always used against other countries of the world with impunity to further their own interests.
    1. M
      Oct 5, 2016 at 11:40 am
      Just google about yemen and you will know how Arabia and Uk bombing there and destroying lives. But there is no human rights. Maybe they are animals i thank ;p
      1. R
        Oct 5, 2016 at 8:46 am
        Any honest study of the Bible must acknowledge that man, as God’s special creation, has been blessed with certain “human rights.” Any true student of the Bible will be stimulated toward ideals such as equity and justice and benevolence. America’s founding fathers put it well: “all men are created equal . . . endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” Such a statement accords well with Scripture. The Bible says that man is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Because of this, man has a certain dignity and was given dominion over the rest of creation (Genesis 1:26).lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;The image of God in man also means that murder is a most heinous crime. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, / by man shall his blood be shed; / for in the image of God / has God made man” (Genesis 9:6). The severity of the punishment underscores the severity of the offense. The Mosaic Law is full of examples of how God expects everyone to be treated humanely. The Ten Commandments contain prohibitions against murder, theft, coveting, adultery, and bearing false testimony. These five laws promote the ethical treatment of our fellow man. Other examples in the Law include commands to treat immigrants well (Exodus 22:21; Leviticus 19:33-34), to provide for the poor (Leviticus 19:10; Deuteronomy 15:7-8), to grant interest-free loans to the poor (Exodus 22:25), and to release all indentured servants every fifty years (Leviticus 25:39-41).lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;The Bible teaches that God does not discriminate or show favoritism (Acts 10:34). Every person is a unique creation of His, and He loves each one (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9). “Rich and poor have this in common: / The LORD is the Maker of them all” (Proverbs 22:2). In turn, the Bible teaches that Christians should not discriminate based on race, gender, cultural background, or social standing (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11; James 2:1-4). We are to be kind to all (Luke 6:35-36). The Bible gives strict warnings against taking advantage of the poor and downtrodden. “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (Proverbs 14:31).lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Instead, God’s people are to help whoever is in need (Proverbs 14:21; Matthew 5:42; Luke 10:30-37). Throughout history, most Christians have understood their responsibility to aid their fellow human beings. The majority of hospitals and orphanages in our world were founded by concerned Christians. Many of the great humanitarian reforms of history, including abolition, were spearheaded by Christian men and women seeking justice.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Today, Christians are still working to combat human rights abuses and to promote the welfare of all people. As they preach the Gospel around the world, they are digging wells, planting crops, giving clothes, dispensing medicine, and providing education for the desute. This is as it should be. There is a sense in which the Christian has no “rights” of his own, because he has surrendered his life to Christ. Christ “owns” the believer. “You are not your own; you were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). But God’s authority over us does not negate God’s image in us. Our submission to the will of God does not annul God’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 23:39). In fact, we serve God most when we serve others (Matthew 25:40).
        1. Rathindra Chatterjee
          Oct 5, 2016 at 5:20 am
          Definition of Human rights.Have Human rights had banned in the year 1972?
          1. C
            Oct 5, 2016 at 6:00 am
            Mr.Human rights Chief, you said nothing when the US attacked Iraq, Libya and Syria. You said nothing when Saudi Arabia attacked Yemen, the list could go on. Why the double standards. These incidents has brought untold misery on the citizens of those countries, countless dead, injured and maimed for life, no food, water, medical care and education for the children. lt;br/gt;It suits your purpose when you want to admonish certain countries and not the ones who started the problem. The human rights organization is filled with leftist, commie thinkers
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