The UN Security Council has failed Syrians. In almost six years of conflict, close to half a million people have been killed and eleven million have been forced to leave their homes. Most recently, the Syrian and Russian governments and their allies have carried out unlawful attacks on eastern Aleppo with scant regard for some 250,000 civilians trapped there. Armed opposition groups have also fired mortars and other projectiles into civilian neighbourhoods of western Aleppo, though according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “indiscriminate airstrikes across the eastern part of the city by Government forces and their allies are responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties.” Efforts to stop these atrocities and hold those responsible to account have been blocked repeatedly by Russia, which continues to misuse its veto power in the Security Council.

The UN’s special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has warned that the UN must not allow “another Srebrenica, another Rwanda, which we are sadly ready to recognize written on that wall in front of us, unless something takes place.” Yet, there is no sign that the Security Council deadlock will end anytime soon. The guardian of international peace and security has failed to fulfill its task under the UN Charter and has failed to uphold its responsibility to protect the Syrian people.

This is why we, a global coalition of 223 civil society organizations, urgently call upon UN member states to step in and request an Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly to demand an end to all unlawful attacks in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria, and immediate and unhindered humanitarian access so that life-saving aid can reach all those in need. Member states should also explore possible avenues to bring perpetrators of serious crimes under international law on all sides to justice.

We welcome Canada’s leadership in seeking UN General Assembly action and we strongly urge all Member States to join the 73 countries from all regions by endorsing their initiative. These countries should work toward an Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly at the earliest opportunity, as UN member states have done in the past when the Security Council was deadlocked.

We call in particular upon the 112 supporters of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency (ACT) Code of Conduct, which includes a pledge to support “timely and decisive action” aimed at preventing or ending the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes, to join this effort and actively promote meaningful action through the UN General Assembly.

Inaction should not be an option. UN member states should use all the diplomatic tools at their disposal to stop the atrocities and protect the millions of civilians in Syria. History will judge harshly those that fail to step up.

UN General Assembly

  • Under the resolution 377A (V), “Uniting for peace”, adopted by the General Assembly on 3 November 1950, an “emergency special session” can be convened within 24 hours.
  • Resolution 377 (V) states that if the Security Council, because of the “lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security,” the General Assembly can consider the matter with a view to making appropriate recommendations to Members for collective measures. Uniting for Peace is
    not just for recommending the use of armed force but for any steps related to the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • The UN Security Council could refer Syria to the UN General Assembly under the Uniting for Peaceprocedure, through a procedural vote which could not be vetoed by any of the P5, requiring only nine affirmative votes. Alternatively, a simple majority of UN member States could instigate an emergency special session of the General Assembly. A Uniting for Peace resolution would require a two-thirds majority vote in the General Assembly as it would be considered an important question regarding international peace and security.
  • Further resources: Resolutions adopted by the General Assembly – Emergency Special Sessions ; Security Council Report’s Abridged History on UN Security Council Deadlocks and Uniting for Peace.


  1. ABBAD
  2. Abrar Halap Association for Relief and Development*
  3. ActionAid International
  4. Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture (ACAT)
  5. Afghanistan Global Civil Society Consortium (AGCSC)
  6. Africa Atrocities Watch
  7. African Centre for Transitional Justice (ACT-J)
  8. African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET)
  9. Ahl Horan*
  10. Alkawakibi Organisation for Human Rights
  11. Al Seeraj For Development And Healthcare*
  12. AmnestyInternational
  13. Amrha*
  14. Antiwar Committee in Solidarity with the Struggle for Self-Determination
  15. Arab Human Rights Organization – Libya
  16. Arab Program for Human Rights Activists (APHRA)
  17. Asia Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  18. Assistance Mission for Africa (AMA)
  19. Associação Brasileira de Organizações Não Governamentais (Brazilian Association of NGOs)
  20. Association For Promotion Sustainable Development, India
  21. AssociationMedina
  22. Assyrian Human Rights Network (AHRN)
  23. Association de Soutien aux Médias Libres (ASML)
  24. Attaa for Relief and Development (ARD)*
  25. AttaaAssociation*
  26. Avaaz
  27. Badayl-Goa
  28. Badhon Human Development Organization (Badhon Manob Unnayan Sangstha)
  29. Balad Syria Organization*
  30. Basmeh & Zeitooneh For Relief and Development
  31. BasmetAmalCharity*
  32. BaytnaSyria
  33. BigHeartFoundation
  34. Bihar Relief Organization*
  35. BINAA for Development
  36. Bonyan*
  37. Bridge of Peace
  38. BroederlijkDelen
  39. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
  40. Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
  41. Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC)
  42. Canadian Labour Congress (CLC)
  43. CAREInternational
  44. Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP)
  45. Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)
  46. Center for the Development of International Law (CDIL)
  47. Center for Conflict Resolution (CECORE)
  1. Christian Aid UK
  2. Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC)
  3. Collectif pour une Syrie Libre et Démocratique
  4. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)
  5. Concern Worldwide
  6. ConectasHumanRights
  7. ControlArmsFoundationofIndia
  8. Council for Arab-British Understanding (Caabu)
  9. CCFD-TerreSolidaire
  10. Damascene House Foundation for Society Development*
  11. Deir Elzzor United Association – FURAT*
  12. Democratic Republic Studies Center
  13. Doctors of the World UK
  14. EastAfricanCivilSocietyOrganisations’Forum(EACSOF)
  15. Economic Justice Network Sierra Leone
  16. Educationwithoutborders-MIDAD*
  17. Emaar AL Sham Humanitarian Association*
  18. Emissa for Development
  19. End Impunity Organization (EIO)
  20. EnjazDevelopmentfoundation*
  21. Equitas
  22. EuroMed Rights (Euro-Mediterranean Network for Human Rights)
  23. Foundation for Democracy and Accountable Governance (FODAG)
  24. Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights
  25. Fundación Jóvenesy Desarrollo
  26. Ghiath Matar Foundation*
  27. GhirasAlNahda*
  28. Ghiras Foundation for Child Care
  29. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  30. GOAL
  31. Greater Upper Nile, Bahr el Ghazal & Equatoria Youth Association (GUBEYA)
  32. Halina Niec Legal Aid Centre (HNLAC)
  33. Hand In Hand For Syria
  34. Help 4 Syria
  35. Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia (MHC)
  36. Humanitarian Relief Association – IYD*
  37. Human Appeal
  38. Human Care Syria
  39. Human Rights Documentation Organization (HURIDO)
  40. Human Rights First Society – Saudi Arabia
  41. Human Rights Now (HRN)
  42. Human Rights Watch (HRW)
  43. Hungarian Helsinki Committee
  44. Instituto Brasileiro de Analises Sociais e Economicas (IBASE)
  45. ICJKenya
  46. IHH Humantiarian Relief Foundation
  47. IndependentDoctorsAssociation(IDA)
  48. Insan for Psychosocial Support*
  49. Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos (INESC)
  50. Institute for Promotion of Civil Society (IPCS)
  51. InstitutoIgarapé
  52. InterculturalResources
  53. International Alert
  54. International Association of World Peace Advocates
  55. International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC)
  56. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  57. International Humanitarian Relief*
  58. International Rescue Committee (IRC)
  59. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
  60. International Supporting Woman Association – ISWA*
  61. International Youth For Africa (IYA)
  62. Irtiqaa Foundation*
  63. Jonglei Development Agency (JODA)
  64. Jugend Eine Welt – Don Bosco Aktion Österreich
  65. Karam Foundation
  66. Kesh Malek
  67. KHOJ
  68. Latvian Platform for Development Cooperation (LAPAS)
  69. Maram Foundation for Relief & Development*
  70. Médecins du Monde France
  71. Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)
  72. Middle East and North Africa Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (MENAPPAC)
  73. Misiones Salesianas
  74. Mother of Hope Cameroon (MOHCAM)
122. Mountain Foundation*
123. Najda now*
124. Nasaem Khair*
126. Non C’è Pace Senza Giustizia (No Peace Without Justice)
127. Norwegian Church Aid
128. Nuon Organization for Peace-Building
129. Ohaha Family Foundation (OFF)
130. Organization for Non-violence and Development (ONAD)
131. Orient for Human Relief*
132. Oxfam
133. Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU)
134. PAX
135. Pax Christi Flanders
136. Peace and Development Collaborative Organization (PDCO)
137. People in Need (PIN)
138. People’s Action For Rural Awakening (PARA)
139. People’s Empowerment Foundation (PEF)
140. Permanent Peace Movement (PPM)
141. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)
142. Protection Approaches
143. Qitaf Al Khair Relief Association*
144. Quaker Peace and Social Witness
145. Radanar Ayar Rural Development Association
146. Relief International
147. Relief & Reconciliation for Syria
148. Rethink Rebuild Society
149. Revivre
150. Rideau Institute
151. Rwanda Green Initiative
152. Saed Charity Association*
153. Sanayee Development Organization (SDO)
154. Save A Soul*
155. Save the Children
156. Sedra Association For Charity*
157. Shama Association*
158. Shaml Coalition
159. Snabel Al Khyr*
160.Solidarity Ministries Africa for Reconciliation & Development (SMARD) 161.Souria Houria
162. South Solidarity Initiative
163. South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms (SSANSA)
164. South Sudan Christian Community Agency (SSCCA)
165. South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy (SSHURSA)
166. South Sudan Law Society (SSLS)
167. South Sudan Youth Peace and Development Organization (SSYPADO)
168. South Sudanese Diaspora Civil Society Network (SSDCSN)
169. Sri Lanka-United Nations Friendship Organisation (SUNFO)
170. STAND
171. Stichting Vluchteling (Netherlands Refugee Foundation)
172. SUDO (UK)
173. Syria Charity
174. Syria NGO Alliance
175. Syria Relief*
176. Syria Relief and Development (SRD)
177. Syria Relief Network (SRN)
178. Syria Relief Organization*
179. Syrian American Council
180. Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS)
181. Syrian Center For Legal Studies and Research
182. Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)
183. Syrian Center for Statistics and Research (CSR-SY)
184. Syrian Education Commission – SEC*
185. Syrian Engineers For Construction and Development Organization – SECD*
186. Syrian Expatriate Medical Association – SEMA*
187. Syrian Institute for Justice
188. Syrian League for Citizenship
189. Syrian Medical Mission*
190. Syrian Network for Human Rights
191. Syrian Orphans Organization*
192. Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ)
193. Takaful Al Sham Charity Organization*
194. Tearfund
195. The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT)
196. The Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence (KontraS)
197. The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS)
198. The Red Elephant Foundation
199. The Syria Campaign
200. The Syrian Establishment for Human Care & Enhancement – MASRRAT*
201. The Violations Documentation Center in Syria (VDC)
202. Trócaire
203. Tuba Dernegi*
204. Unified Revolutionary Medical Bureau in East Gouta*
205. Union Of Syrians Abroad*
207. Vision GRAM-International
208. Voice for Change (VFC)
209. War Child
210. White Hands – Beyaz Eller*
211. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) 212.Women Monthly Forum
213. World Federalist Movement–Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP) 214.World Renew
215. World Vision
216. Youth Forum on Foreign Policy
217. Youth for Peace and Development
218. Youth in Action Balochistan
219. Youth in Action Nepal
220. Yuwalaya
221. Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights)
222. Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
223. 11.11.11
*These organizations are members of the Syria Relief Network (SRN), an umbrella organization of Syrian humanitarian NGOs working inside Syria and neighboring countries to provide relief to Syrians in need of assistance.
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