In advance of the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura’s closed briefing to Security Council members on Tuesday 25 August 2015, the Special Representative of the Syrian National Coalition to the United Nations, Dr. Najib Ghadbian, condemned the widespread practice of sexual violence across Syria, and called on Security Council members to ensure accountability for all acts of sexual violence, irrespective of the perpetrator:
“The Syrian National Coalition condemns in the strongest terms all act of sexual violence committed across Syria. No one should have to fear rape, sexual exploitation, forced marriage, sexual slavery or sexual torture. Yet for far too many Syrian women, girls, men and boys, fear of sexual violence is a daily reality.
“Four years after the start of the Syrian crisis, sexual violence is being perpetrated as an instrument of war by both Syrian regime forces and extremist terrorist groups like ISIL. Rape, sexual torture and sexual exploitation are being conducted strategically and systematically, in direct contravention of international law. Rape itself has become an instrument of Syrian regime policy in regime-run prisons and detention facilities, as well as in regime checkpoints. Much like barrel bombs, siege-tactics and chlorine gas, sexual violence is used by Syrian regime forces to spread fear amongst the civilian population and dehumanize its many victims.
“The failure to stop the Syrian regime’s rampant use of sexual violence has contributed to the growth of extremist groups like ISIL, which regularly use sexual violence as a weapon of war. ISIL’s heinous enslavement of women and girls, as well as its use of sexual assault and harassment, can and must be stopped. But to do so, we must end the climate of impunity which has acted as an enabler of such crimes.
“The Syrian National Coalition is committed to ensuring that anyone responsible for such act be brought to justice, which is why we, along with the Free Syrian Army adopted a Communique to Eliminate Sexual Violence and endorsed the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. We continue to call on the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and, in the absence of an ICC referral, to establish an independent international criminal tribunal. The climate of impunity must end in Syria. Victims of sexual violence require it, and the Syrian people demand it.”