The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces and the Free Syrian Army announce our joint adoption of the “Communiqué to Eliminate Sexual Violence”, signed on 30 April 2014 by Syrian Coalition President Ahmad al Jarba and Supreme Military Council Chief of Staff General Abdulilah al Bashir. On behalf of the people of Syria, we pledge our steadfast commitment to undertake all steps necessary to eliminate sexual violence in Syria and to hold perpetrators accountable.
Communiqué to Eliminate Sexual Violence
National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces and the Free Syrian Army
1. The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces and the Free Syrian Army are gravely concerned by the prominent role sexual violence has played in the Syrian conflict. We are outraged by all acts of rape, sexual assault and other inhumane acts committed by Syrian regime forces and affiliated militias, as well as any acts of sexual violence alleged to have been committed by members of other armed groups in Syria.
2. Sexual violence committed during armed conflict represents a violation of international humanitarian law and may constitute war crimes, as defined by the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocols thereto of 1977, the Refugee Convention of 1951, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women of 1979 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989.
3. The Syrian regime is the principal perpetrator and enabler of sexual violence in Syria. Regime and pro-regime forces have used sexual violence, including rape, at detention centres and prisons. They have used the threat of rape as a tool to terrorize and punish women, men and children.
4. We will not tolerate sexual violence perpetrated by any party. We are committed to taking all steps necessary to eliminate such violence and to hold perpetrators accountable. We have voiced such commitments both in our Declaration of Commitment on Compliance with IHL and the Facilitation of Humanitarian Assistance and our Proclamation of Principles.
5. We fully endorse the ‘Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict’ and support international efforts to tackle the scourge of sexual violence.
6. In accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2106, we pledge to:
a. issue clear orders prohibiting sexual violence;
b. implement specific commitments to ensure the timely investigation of alleged abuses;
c. designate a high-level representative to cooperate with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence to ensure the full implementation of this communiqué.
7. A sustainable end to all violence in Syria, including sexual violence, will only be achieved by a political solution to the conflict. We therefore call upon the international community to fulfill its obligations to restore peace and security in Syria by compelling the Syrian regime to agree to a political transition, as required by the Geneva Communiqué and UN Security Council resolutions 2118 and 2139.
Ahmad al Jarba
President, Syrian Opposition Coalition
General Abdulilah al Bashir
Chief of Staff, Supreme Military Council