NGOs give G8 summit positions on Syria guarded welcome

Commitment to investigate the use of chemical weapons welcomed

A Free Syrian Army fighter walks through the rubble of damaged buildings in Aleppo’s al-Sayyid Ali neighborhood yesterday. Photograph: Reuters/Muzaffar Salman

A Free Syrian Army fighter walks through the rubble of damaged buildings in Aleppo’s al-Sayyid Ali neighborhood yesterday. Photograph: Reuters/Muzaffar Salman

Wed, Jun 19, 2013, 01:00

Similarities were drawn between the reactions of the international community to the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and the ongoing crisis in Syria by Goal chief executive Barry Andrews after yesterday’s G8 summit drew to a close.

“After Rwanda, everyone said never again – and with that in mind, the UN drew up a set of principles called the Responsibility to Protect,” said Mr Andrews. “This meant that a country enjoyed sovereignty as a duty, not a right, and if a country failed to protect its citizens, or exposed them to atrocities, it relinquished its enjoyment of sovereignty.

“The UN has tried to figure out how that would work but it’s hard to see that any progress has been made. We want to see that there is continued humanitarian access and that’s very difficult at the moment because of sovereignty issues.”

Amnesty International Northern Ireland programme director Patrick Corrigan said he was issuing “a guarded welcome” to the summit announcements in relation to Syria.

“We welcome the commitment to investigate the use of chemical weapons which are prohibited under international law, but we would also like to have had independent investigations into the other human rights’ violations and crimes against humanity we believe to have taken place over the past two years.”

Oxfam Ireland said the summit had made some progress on solutions that would help developing countries keep more of their tax revenues within their own countries.