UN / SYRIA SECTARIAN VIOLENCE

13-Feb-2012 00:02:20
The UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, Edward Luck, expressed grave concern today about the potential escalation of hostilities across sectarian lines in Syria. "In terms of trying to prevent atrocity crimes, if you look at the demographics of Syria it looks simply like a minefield. It's like the perfect storm for very serious atrocities over time." UNTV / FILE
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STORY: UN / SYRIA SECTARIAN VIOLENCE
TRT: 2.20
SOURCE: UNTV
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 13 FEBRUARY 2012, NEW YORK CITY / FILE

SHOTLIST :

FILE – RECENT, NEW YORK CITY

1. Wide shot, exterior United Nations headquarters

13 FEBRUARY 2012, NEW YORK CITY

2. SOUNDBITE (English) Edward Luck, UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect:
“In terms of trying to prevent atrocity crimes, you look at the demographics of Syria and it looks simply like a minefield. It's like the perfect storm for very serious atrocities over time.”
3. Cutaway, Luck’s hands
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Edward Luck, UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect:
“Once this kind of violence begins to pit one community against another, it's very hard to put the pieces back together. At some point you can get to a point of no return.”
5. Cutaway, Luck’s hands
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Edward Luck, UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect:
“We have to recognize that at some point that government may collapse. It may implode. It may collapse for other reasons. And then what is going to happen? At that point it’s very important that local communities be organized across sectarian lines.”

4 FEBRUARY, NEW YORK CITY / FILE

7. Wide shot, Security Council meeting on Syrian resolution
8. Wide to med shot, Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, vetoing the resolution on Syria
9. Med shot, Li Baodong, Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations, vetoing the resolution

13 FEBRUARY 2012, NEW YORK CITY

10. SOUNDBITE (English) Edward Luck, UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect:
“We can't use a veto in the Security Council as an excuse for inaction. It also shouldn't be an excuse for further violence by the government. So I think we have to have a single message and we have to recognize in some ways what happened in the Security Council is really an urgent call for everyone to redouble their efforts to try to solve the problems in Syria and if at all possible to do that peacefully and politically.”
11. Wide shot, General Assembly Hall during debate on Syria and a briefing by Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Edward Luck, UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect:
“The whole international community continues to have to pressure the Assad government, ah, to recognize the rights of all Syrians. But - very important - to simply cease the violence. It’s not good enough to talk about reform in the abstract where you're repressing the people with mass violence. It simply has no credibility. So I think that message has to be very consistent. I think the pressure has to be there. I think it's important that the international to speak with a single voice.”
13. Zoom in, Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, ascending the podium to brief the General Assembly
14. Med shot, Pillay briefing General Assembly
14. SOUNDBITE (English) Edward Luck, UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect:
“We should recognize that you don't have to have tanks and weapons to be influential internationally. You can do it through moral suasion, ah, through diplomacy. Ah - and I think in that sense the General Assembly is adding to the international voice, which I hope the Syrian Government will listen to.”
14. Med shot, Syrian delegation

STORYLINE:

The UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect Edward Luck expressed grave concern today about the potential escalation of hostilities across sectarian lines in Syria.

“In terms of trying to prevent atrocity crimes, if you look at the demographics of Syria it looks simply like a minefield,” he said. “It's like the perfect storm for very serious atrocities over time."

Growing sectarian violence could push the conflict in Syria over a line, he cautioned, emphasizing that “once this kind of violence begins to pit one community against another, it's very hard to put the pieces back together.” At that point, Syria could reach “a point of no return," he said.

Luck called for the international community to bolster civil society efforts within Syria to bridge sectarian divisions because “at some point that government may collapse,” and it was critical that “local communities be organized across sectarian lines” should that happen.

The Special Adviser stressed that the Security Council's failure over a week ago to adopt a resolution on Syria after a double veto by Russia and China should not be used “as an excuse for inaction” or for “further violence by the government.”

Instead, the veto should be recognized as “an urgent call for everyone to redouble their efforts to try to solve the problems in Syria and if at all possible to do that peacefully and politically," he said.

To that end today, the General Assembly this morning convened to debate the report of the UN Human Rights Council from December last year in which the Geneva-based Council strongly condemned abuses by Syrian authorities in response to widespread political protests.

Ahead of today’s debate, Luck released a joint statement with the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Francis Deng, urging immediate action to “restore confidence across ethnic and sectarian lines before tensions escalate further.”

Today he emphasized that the international should continue “to pressure the Assad government to recognize the rights of all Syrians” and to cease the current violence. It was not “good enough to talk about reform in the abstract where you're repressing the people with mass violence,” he argued, suggesting that in that case the Syrian government had “no credibility.”

He underlined the work of the wider UN system, including the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pilllay, who briefed the Assembly this morning, and noted the value of today’s debate in “adding to the international voice, which I hope the Syrian Government will listen to.”

In their joint statement, which was issued on Friday (10 February), the Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and on the Responsibility to Protect on Friday urged an immediate end to the violence in Syria, particularly given the daily reports emerging from Homs of attacks against densely populated areas.

“The presence of armed elements among the population does not render attacks against civilians legal,” they said, urging all sides to take immediate steps to ensure that the human rights of everyone, regardless of their religious identity or political affiliation, are respected and protected.
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