Dear Mr. President,
We write on behalf of 10 non-governmental organizations with experience and expertise on the ongoing crisis in Syria regarding your upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G20 meeting in Hamburg on July 7-8, 2017. During your meeting, we ask that you address the gross violation of humanitarian norms that has characterized the violence in Syria, a conflict which now has killed and displaced millions of civilians, creating the largest flow of refugees since the Second World War.
Throughout the conflict in Syria, our organizations have documented widespread violations of International Humanitarian Law, including attacks on and besiegement of civilians, the targeting of medical personnel and facilities, deliberate blocking of humanitarian aid, and the use of chemical weapons. Where the U.N. Security Council has sought to advance justice and accountability for these attacks, even in limited ways, these attempts have been systematically blocked by Russia, at times joined by China. In April this year, Russia used its Security Council veto for the eighth time with regard to the conflict in Syria, this time to block independent investigation of the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack.
As we near the reopening of U.N.-sponsored peace talks in Geneva, it is paramount that all parties to the conflict ensure the following:
Until these basic standards of international law are upheld, there can be no political resolution to the Syrian conflict – itself a precondition for peace. Your meeting with President Putin offers an important opportunity to make clear that the United States is deeply committed to the rule of law in the international sphere. Sustained U.S. leadership must be employed to bring an end to the war crimes and crimes against humanity occurring in Syria.
We thank you for your careful consideration of these matters.
Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue, Suite 5203
New York, NY 10016-4309, USA