Comment by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ statement on Syria

Thursday, 16 March 2017 18:43

We have taken note of the statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein made on March 14 at a high-level thematic discussion on Syria at the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council. Having appropriated the role of international arbiter, the high commissioner claims that the situation in Syria is “the worst man-made disaster the world has seen since World War II” and that as a result of the armed conflict, “ the entire country has become a torture-chamber.”

We have first-hand experience of attempts to rewrite history to suit the political situation of the moment. This phenomenon is characteristic of many Western countries. The high commissioner is in effect trying to do the same thing: blame the Damascus authorities for fueling the war in Syria. According to him, vetoes at the UN Security Council have repeatedly pushed back hope for an end to “this senseless carnage.” Meanwhile, he turns a blind eye to the fact that right from the start, this conflict was fomented and fueled by outside forces. He does not use the term “terrorism” at all, and tries to portray terrorists as “victims of circumstance,” which is completely unacceptable.

It is telling that Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein’s politicised and biased evaluations came almost at the same time as the remarks of UN Under-Secretary-General Stephen O'Brien at the UN session, where he described the situation in Yemen, not in Syria, as the worst humanitarian disaster. It is regrettable that the Yemen conflict, as well as the situation in a number of other countries requiring urgent attention, in particular around Mosul in Iraq, for some reason drop off the high commissioner’s radar or are commented on indirectly. How is that for his so-called “objectivity”?

We must say that Mr Hussein’s remarks at the 34th session of the UN Security Council are certainly not the first example of his comments or public evaluations that are not befitting of a UN official and that run counter to the professional work ethic of a UN Secretariat official, as defined in the UN Charter. Previously, he took the liberty of making inappropriate comments on the work methods and decisions of a UN intergovernmental agency – the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) – making personal attacks on the actions of public politicians and even insulting heads of state in his statements.

This raises the question: Does Mr Hussein’s behaviour measure up to the authority and the high international status of the post that he holds? What goal is he pursuing by antagonising states that have been set on constructive cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms? Perhaps his superiors at the UN Secretariat should also pay attention to this.

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