The United Nations reported Wednesday that the death toll in Syria is nearing 70,000, nearly two years after the conflict began.
Speaking in front of the U.N. Security Council, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that with dozens of deaths every day across the war-torn country, the Security Council’s divisions over the conflict will have dire consequences.
“There will always be some disagreement within the international community on how to respond to a given situation; but when tens of thousands of civilian lives are threatened, as currently in Syria, the world expects the Security Council to unite and act,” Pillay said, according to a press release.
“The Security Council is at its best when it acts with a unified voice,” she added. “The lack of consensus on Syria and the resulting inaction has been disastrous and civilians on all sides have paid the price.”
She suggested that the 15-nation Security Council send Syria’s case to the International Criminal Court.
“This would send a clear message to both the Government and the opposition that there will be consequences for their actions, and could have a very significant preventive effect,” Pillay said.
Both Russia and China have previously blocked three Security Council resolutions on Syria.
Pillay pointed out that the Council was able to find a unanimous consensus over the situation in Mali, where rebels that took over the northern portion of the country threatened to march on the capital. The move allowed for providing human rights monitoring, she said.
“We will be judged against the tragedy that has unfolded before our eyes. This Council, as well as those of us in key positions within the U.N., will be rightly asked what we did,” Pillay said of Syria.
The announcement comes as former Syrian spokesman Jihad Makdissi, who left the country in December, made his first public statement about the conflict and why he left.
“I left Syria because the polarization in the country has reached a deadly and destructive stage … I left a battlefield, not a normal country, and I apologize to those who trusted my credibility and for leaving without prior notice,” he wrote in an email to Al Jazeera television Wednesday.
Makdissi stressed that he was neither part of the opposition forces nor loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. “I joined no one; I am independent,” Makdissi wrote.
“The goals of the popular movement are frankly legitimate—in principle and in essence—and have won the battle for the hearts, because all parts of society always stand with the weak and with the legitimate demands of the people,” he continued. “But they have not won the battle for the minds, for many reasons that are common knowledge.”
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