Statement by the Friends of the Syrian People International Working Group on Sanctions
1. The Friends of the Syrian People International Working Group on Sanctions (“the Group”) held its third meeting in Doha, Qatar on the 19th of July 2012. The third meeting built upon and endorsed the outcomes of the meetings held by the Group in Paris on the 17th of April and in Washington, D.C. on the 6th of June. In line with its mandate, the Group reaffirmed its resolve to ensure that sanctions against the Syrian regime and its designated supporters are universal, effective, and implemented robustly in order to end the regime’s oppression of the Syrian people. Qatar, Japan, and the United Kingdom co-chaired this third meeting of the Group. The Government of Qatar hosted the meeting, and H.E. Mr. Ali Fahad Al-Hajri, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs delivered the opening remarks. More than 50 countries were represented at the meeting, which clearly represents the level of resolve in the international community for finding a peaceful means to ending the conflict in Syria and the practical application of targeted restrictive measures for applying pressure on the Syrian regime.
2. The Group condemned the continuing attacks by the Syrian regime against the Syrian people and the regime’s continuing brutality and denial of the legitimate political aspirations of the Syrian people. It expressed its grave concern about the serious deterioration of the situation in Syria in recent days. It agreed that these developments underlined the need for sustained and increased pressure on the Syrian regime to bring an end to the violence, including through the adoption of stronger measures against those most responsible for the violence. In this regard, the Group reaffirmed the call made by the Friends of the Syrian People at its meeting in Paris on the 6th of July for the UN Security Council to support Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan by urgently adopting a resolution under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter that enforces the Joint Special Envoy’s six-point plan, endorses the Action Group Geneva communiqué, and imposes sanctions on the Syrian regime, including asset freezes and travel bans for continued non-compliance.
3. The Group agreed that the Syrian regime’s escalating violence and the suffering of the Syrian people is intolerable, and that the regime’s actions are undertaken to perpetuate its illegitimate hold on power in Syria. The Group noted strong international support for the UN Human Rights Council resolution (A/HRC/20/L.22) of the 6th of July, which condemned the “widespread, systematic, and gross violations of human rights; acts of violence; on-going atrocities; and indiscriminate targeting of civilians by Syrian authorities,” which “might amount to crimes against humanity.” The Group called upon all members of the international community to join with the Friends of the Syrian People to isolate the Syrian regime and its supporters by adopting and enforcing targeted restrictive measures. The Group also noted that the ongoing crisis continues to escalate regional tensions and threatens regional security and stability. In that regard, the Group commended the positive and vital role carried out by the Arab League in showing regional leadership by responding to the Syrian crisis since its inception
4. The Group called on all members of the international community to act with responsibility and determination to show its solidarity with the Syrian people by implementing and enforcing measures to deprive the Syrian regime of the resources needed to continue carrying out its violent crackdown and to compel the Syrian regime to comply fully and immediately with all elements of the UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy’s Six Point Plan and with its commitments under UNSCRs 2042 and 2043 and proceed with a political transition as set forth in the guidelines and principles of the 30th of June Geneva Action Group communiqué.
5. The Group welcomed the measures implemented by the member states of the Friends of the Syrian People to harmonize and enforce sanctions aimed at increasing pressure on the Syrian regime since the Paris and Washington meetings. It called on all member states to continue to ensure the full implementation and enforcement of sanctions including assets freezes and transaction restrictions on the Central Bank, the Commercial Bank of Syria and the Syrian regime and its designated supporters, as well as an embargo on petroleum products and the provision of related insurance and reinsurance. The Group called upon all states to adopt and implement these measures unilaterally. The Group noted that existing sanctions, including the oil embargo and assets freezes are having a significant impact by depriving the regime of substantial revenue that would have been used to fund the violence against the Syrian people. The Group called on all states to be vigilant in countering regime attempts to circumvent the oil embargo and other restrictive measures.
6. The Group agreed to increase its sharing of information in order to identify those persons and entities that are continuing to provide support for the Syrian regime and to implement additional sanctions against them in order to deprive the Syrian regime of support. The Group also agreed to continue to highlight and share information on activity that is designed by the Syrian regime to evade or frustrate the effectiveness of sanctions and to take concerted action to prevent any such evasion. The Group again urged those states that are actively providing support to the Syrian regime to cease such support immediately.
7. The Group commended the strong steps already taken by member states to prevent sanctions evasion by the Syrian regime and reiterated its call on all members of the international community to issue guidance to financial institutions, noting the risk associated with doing business with and on behalf of the Syrian regime, and to implement enhanced due diligence to mitigate the risk of sanctions evasion by the regime and its supporters and affiliates. The Group called on all members of the international financial and business community to cease all activities that may support or assist the Syrian regime and to recognise their responsibility to ensure that any commercial dealings and relationships they have in Syria do not, in any way, provide direct or indirect support or assistance to the Syrian regime or its supporters.
8. In order to protect Syria’s outstanding cultural heritage, the Group called on all states to take the necessary measures to prohibit the sale, import, transit and export of the Syrian cultural property that has been stolen or misappropriated from the Syrian people since the commencement of the crisis.
9. The Group emphasized that the sanctions do not target the civilian population of Syria but are aimed at depriving the Syrian regime of the resources it and its supporters rely on to perpetuate the regime’s repression of the people of Syria. In that regard, it noted the humanitarian aid being provided to the Syrian people by the international community. The Group commended the courage shown by those who have defected from the Syrian regime and its military, and called on all persons within the Syrian government, military, financial and business community to distance themselves from the regime and support the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people or face further isolation from the international community and the international financial system.
10. The Group affirmed its commitment to ensure that once clear and irreversible progress has been made towards a democratic transition allowing the Syrian people to realize their just political ambitions, the Group will swiftly review sanctions and lift them where appropriate in order to facilitate and support the reconstruction of the future Syria in coordination with the Friends of the Syrian People’s Working Group on Economic Reconstruction and Development.
11. The International Working Group on Sanctions will hold its fourth meeting in September in The Netherlands.