European Law Monitor

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newsCouncil conclusions on Syria

The Council adopted the following conclusions:

1. The European Union stands by the Syrian people in its courageous struggle for freedom,
dignity and democracy. The use of force by the Syrian regime against civilians, including by
heavy weapons and aerial bombardments, has reached unprecedented levels and can only
exacerbate further the violence and endanger the stability of the whole region. The EU recalls
that the priorities should be to end oppression, stop all violence, deliver humanitarian aid for
all those in need, prevent further regional instability and be prepared for the post-conflict
The EU underlines that those whose presence would undermine the political transition should
be excluded and that President Assad, in this regard, has no place in the future of Syria.
The EU remains committed to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria.

2. The European Union remains deeply concerned by the spill-over effects of the Syrian crisis in
neighbouring countries in terms of security and stability The EU strongly condemns the
shelling by Syrian forces of the Turkish territory, particularly on the border town of Akçakale
on 3 October. The EU calls on all to prevent escalation. The EU calls again on the Syrian
authorities to fully respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all neighbouring

3. Recalling that the main responsibility for the current crisis lies with the Syrian authorities, the
EU warns against further militarisation and radicalisation of the conflict and sectarian
violence which can only bring further suffering to Syria and risks having a tragic impact in
the region. In this regard, the EU expresses concern about the protection of civilians, in
particular vulnerable groups and religious communities. The intensification of violence and
the recent series of terrorist attacks demonstrate the urgent need for a political transition that
would meet the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people and bring stability in Syria. In
this regard, the EU is deeply concerned about the increasing influx of weapons into Syria and
calls on all States to refrain from delivering arms to the country.

The continuation and escalation of the crisis in Syria poses a threat to the wider regional

4. The EU reiterates its full support for the endeavours of Lakhdar Brahimi as Joint Special
Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria and stands
ready to strengthen its cooperation with him. The EU emphasises the need to focus
international and regional efforts to solve the Syrian crisis through a political solution and
calls on key actors in the region and all members of the UN Security Council to uphold their
responsibilities and support Brahimi’s efforts.

The EU looks forward to the next meeting of the Friends of Syrian People Group to be held in
Morocco to maintain international pressure on the Syrian regime.

5. In view of the deterioration of the humanitarian situation and of the approaching winter, the
EU recalls the moral imperative to step up assistance to all affected populations throughout
Syria and neighbouring countries. The European Union expresses solidarity with the affected
populations and neighbouring countries that have welcomed the refugees. The EU will
continue to provide assistance and calls on all donors to increase their contributions to the
latest UN appeals for funding humanitarian assistance and refugee assistance. The European
Union urges donors to report their assistance and coordinate with the United Nations (OCHA)
in order to maximise the effectiveness of the aid effort. All parties should allow full and safe
access for the delivery of humanitarian aid in all parts of the country, and respect international
humanitarian law. The European Union urges all parties to the conflict to respect in full their
legal and moral obligations to protect civilians.

Particularly alarmed by the dramatic and growing difficulties in the access in Syria to medical
services, the EU urges all parties to commit themselves to respect in full the inviolability of
all medical facilities, medical personnel and vehicles in respect of applicable international
humanitarian law.

6. The EU is appalled by the deterioration of the situation in Syria and in particular by the
widespread and systematic violations of human rights, international humanitarian law and
fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities. In line with the UN Human Rights Council
resolution on Syria adopted on 28 September, the EU calls upon all parties to put an end to all
forms of violence and to take special measures to protect vulnerable groups such as children,
as well as women and girls subject to gender based violence.

The EU welcomes the extension of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on
Syria and its strengthening through the nomination of two new members, Carla del Ponte and
Vitit Muntarbhorn. The EU reaffirms its support to the Commission’s investigations into
alleged violations of international human rights law with a view to hold to account those
responsible for such violations, including for those that may amount to crimes against
humanity and war crimes according to the definition of the Rome Statute of the International
Criminal Court. The EU underlines the importance of documentation of the widespread,
systematic and gross human rights violations and recalls that all those responsible must be
held accountable. The EU reiterates its call to the Syrian authorities to cooperate fully with
the Commission of Inquiry including by granting it full, immediate and unfettered access to
the whole Syrian territory.

7. The EU recalls that an inclusive and coordinated opposition is essential to start a political
transition. The EU continues to urge all opposition groups, inside and outside Syria, to put
aside their differences and to agree on a set of shared principles and start working towards an
inclusive, orderly and peaceful transition in Syria and to build upon the agreement on the
“National Pact” and on a “Common Political Vision for transition in Syria”. The EU will
continue to work closely with the League of Arab States and facilitate further dialogue
initiatives to complement its efforts to encourage the opposition towards forming an inclusive
common platform. All Syrians must have a place in the new Syria and enjoy equal rights,
regardless of their origin, affiliations, religion, beliefs or gender.

8. The EU commits to strengthening its support in building the capacity of civil society to
participate in a future Syria, in line with the legitimate demands of the Syrian people for a
more free, open and inclusive political system involving all Syrians. In this context, the EU
also acknowledges the importance of the work of the local civilian bodies throughout Syria.

9. The EU approved today additional restrictive measures against Syria. The EU stands ready to
engage with those seriously committed to a genuine democratic transition. The EU will
continue its policy of imposing additional measures targeting the regime, not the civilian
population, as long as repression continues. The EU will also continue to urge the
international community to join its efforts, in taking steps to apply and enforce restrictive
measures on the Syrian regime and its supporters. In this context, the EU welcomes the fourth
meeting of the International Group on Sanctions which was held in The Hague on 20
September. It calls on all Syrians to dissociate themselves from the repressive policy of the
regime in order to facilitate a political transition.

10. The EU commits to working closely and comprehensively with international partners on
planning to ensure the international community is ready to provide rapid support to Syria once
transition takes place. In this respect, the EU underlines the importance of the establishment
of a transitional body. The EU welcomes the second meeting of the Working Group on
Economic Recovery and Development of the Friends of the Syrian People which was held in
Berlin on 4 September 2012.
The EU expresses concern about the destruction of Syrian cultural heritage.
As soon as a genuine democratic transition begins, the EU stands ready to develop a new and
ambitious partnership with Syria across all areas of mutual interest, including by contributing
to a post-conflict needs assessment, mobilizing assistance, institution building, strengthening
trade and economic relations and supporting transitional justice and the political transition.

11. Issues related to pressure created on the EU external borders will be addressed by the next
Justice and Home Affairs Council.