During its 30th session, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution concerning the human rights situation in Syria, as it has done since the 19th session in 2012. On this occasion, the Lebanese delegation tabled an amendment to the draft resolution seeking to remove a reference to Hizbullah. The section to be removed read: “and those foreign organizations fighting on behalf of the Syrian authorities, in particular Hizbullah.” Hizbullah’s role in exacerbating the conflict in Syria is well-documented.
According to the Lebanese diplomat, the Council’s mention of Hizbullah was unbalanced and politically-motivated, and should not be considered a question of human rights. In previous resolutions on Syria by the UN Human Rights Council, Hizbullah has been described as a “militia group” (A/HRC/RES/28/20) that “exacerbates the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation which has a serious negative impact on the region” (A/HRC/RES/23/26), as well as a contributor to the “gross, systematic, and widespread violations and abuses of human rights and all abuses of international humanitarian law” (A/HRC/RES/29/16). The Lebanese representative to the UN in Geneva further argued that these descriptions fail to adequately address the human rights situation in Syria without subjectivity or selectivity.
Although Hizbullah has been mentioned by name in several draft resolutions on Syria since 2013, during the Council’s 23rd session, this was the first time that Lebanon had proposed an amendment to remove the allusion. This may be because Hizbullah has strengthened its hold on the Lebanese government in recent years, thus compelling the Lebanese representative to speak out.
During the debate that followed, the United States of America argued for the retention of the original wording since it accurately reflected Hizbullah’s role in the Syrian conflict. Russia and China, speaking in support of the amendment, stressed that Lebanon had been on the front line fighting against ISIS and Al Qaeda and had played an important role in taking in Syrian migrants. Russia added that the resolution incorrectly described Hizbullah as a terrorist group.
The result of the vote was: 10 in favor (Brazil, China, Maldives, Russia), 21 against (Argentina, France, Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA), 16 abstentions (Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Vietnam)