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Raheel Raza, speaking for Center for Inquiry, made the first speech yesterday morning (17 September 2014)  at the 24th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, which was very well received. This was the only speech during the entire debate on Syria to suggest that the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) had a special responsibility to work towards a solution to the civil war in one of its member states. Here is Raheel’s statement in full:

Center for Inquiry

UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: 24th Session 9 – 27 September 2013

Speaker: Raheel Raza, CFI Representative, 16 Sept 2013

Interactive dialogue with the COI on Syria

Mr President

Both sides have been deeply implicated in acts of utter barbarity in the civil war in Syria, the worst example of Muslim on Muslim violence in living memory. Surely therefore it must fall to the OIC member states to play a key role in ending this conflict, particularly given the current lack of consensus in the International community and the Security Council to agree a way forward.  Yet, as we have seen, the OIC itself remains deeply divided on how to move forward with member states supplying arms to both sides.

Nevertheless, the international community has agreed one fact:  chemical weapons have been used and have killed more than 1000 people in Damascus. Surely this council can agree that the use of these weapons must be investigated, and that the mandate must include establishing unequivocally who was responsible and ensuring that the perpetrators are – eventually – brought to justice.

A new Security Council resolution is needed, empowering a team of inspectors to establish responsibility, and requiring both sides to co-operate fully with the investigation with the threat of military intervention remaining on the table in case of non-compliance.

However, Mr President, military intervention should be used only as a last resort. The history of the past ten years has shown that military intervention in the Middle East by outside powers can have catastrophic consequences for all concerned.

Thank you sir.

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