Many Syrian civil society representatives, women and men, have briefed the security council on the political and humanitarian situation in Syria. These are some examples of those briefs.

Ms. Mariana is a legal investigator, and co-founder of Huquqyat, a membership-based organization of women lawyers and legal practitioners advocating for accountability in Syria. When she briefed the security council her statement covered three key points: 1. The use of sexual and gender-based violence which has been used against civilians during ground operations, at checkpoints and in detention, across the country since 2011, primarily by Government forces and associated militia, but also other armed groups. 2. The entrenched gender discrimination against women due to the corrupt and discriminatory legal system in Syria which impacts women’s access to housing, land, property rights, custody of their children, as well as their protection. 3. And the next steps for the international community to ensure accountability. Mariana urged all UN Member States to continue to pursue accountability under universal jurisdiction and asked the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.

Thuraya is a political feminist activist, former detainee, and the director of an organization that works on empowering women survivors of violence and introducing civil peace programs. Thuraya updated the Security Council about the politicization of humanitarian issues by the Syrian government and its international allies perpetuating women’s legal and economic vulnerabilities and inhibiting access to education and health services. She warned the SC that Syria will be a source of militancy and terrorism, and a regional hub for organized crime if the conflict continues. She urged the SC to: 1. Increase the pressure on the Syrian government to release all detainees and reveal the fate of the forcibly disappeared people. 2. Advance efforts to reach a comprehensive and sustainable political solution with the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women, by implementing measures including the Geneva 1 communique, UNSCR 2254, and the relevant resolutions on Women, Peace and Security. 3. Link the political settlement to accountability that guarantees women’s rights. 4. Bind the reconstruction process in Syria with the achievement of a political solution, and the safe repatriation of refugees. 5. Support the criminalization of all violence against women.

Rajaa as the Co-Director of the Center for Civil Society and Democracy addressed the participants in the 8696th Security Council meeting about the Syrian situation, Rajaa called on the Security Council members to work together with Syrians to find a sustainable solution for Syria based on Security Council Resolution 2254. She stressed that the road map to end the Syrian tragedy must include ending all hostilities, including sexual and gender-based violence, improving the conditions of the IDPs and refugees, and supporting the arrival of humanitarian aid to them. She emphasized the need to form an independent international committee in cooperation with civil society to oversee the voluntary return of refugees safely. She also called for a gender sensitive committee to support the release of detainees and in providing follow-up care. Other key points included the formation of an international working group to support the comprehensive political process including the Constitutional Committee,  the restructuring of security and military forces in accordance with human rights principles,  supporting an inclusive political process (all Syrians are represented and all parties are included) and an agreement that ensures accountability and transitional justice, that plans for sustainable development and reconstruction, and that guarantees human rights. She emphasized that the direct participation of Syrian women and civil society is crucial in all aspects.

Sabah is a member of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, a member of the Syrian Women’s Advisory Board, and a civil activist who worked for the advancement of women’s rights in Syria. She briefed the SC in her independent capacity as a member of civil society and as a lifelong feminist. Mrs. Sabah focused in her statement on: 1. The gendered and devastating impact of the conflict on all civilians, including women and girls. She brought attention to the recent missile attack that hit a building next to a maternity hospital in a displaced persons camp in Idlib, killing at least 16 people and injuring many more, including women, children, and medical staff. 2. There can be no peace or democracy in Syria without women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in any political process. She highlighted that these fundamental issues continue to be overlooked in formal, high-level processes to this day. Since 2014, despite the efforts of the Special Envoy and the demands of Syrian women’s rights activists, there have been only two women in each of the Government and the opposition’s delegations for the Geneva negotiation process.3. Release all arbitrary detainees and forced disappearances and address it as a human rights issue. She urged the SC to call for an immediate ceasefire, to ensure women’s participation in the political process, and the release all detainees.

Addressing the 15 members of the Security Council about the fate of those detained during Syria’s eight-year-long conflict, Amina Khoulani said: “This Council can save lives if it chooses to act today”. Hala Al Ghawi and Amina Khoulani,  are founders of the Families for Freedom organization who have been calling for the release of the detainees for a long time and they speak on behalf of thousands of families of the detainees. Amina shared her own story as a detainee herself and highlighted the sufferings of her own family as her four brothers were detained too; of those, three were killed in detention.  She and her husband were also arrested and fled the country after their release from prison.  “We were both lucky to survive, but others were not so lucky,” she said, noting that many of those detained may be sick, subjected to torture or scheduled for execution — most without a fair trial.  Amina urged the Council to put pressure on all parties in Syria to release the names and whereabouts of those in detention; allow humanitarian actors to visit detention centers; and compel the parties to provide information to the families of victims.

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