A draft resolution on Syria supported by European countries in the United Nations Security Council offered the possibility of international protection for Syrian civilians, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.
The 15-nation Security Council this week began discussing the draft by Britain, Germany, Portugal and France, which focused on areas of human rights protection and accountability rather than stronger measures such as an arms embargo and military action, dpa reported.
Other human rights advocates joined Human Rights Watch in demanding protection of civilians who demand their human rights and prosecution of violators. They included Amnesty International, Avaaz, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Reporters without Borders (RSF) and United to End Genocide.
The groups petitioned the Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Syria and to warn Damascus of "consequences" if it fails to end the systematic killing and torture of protesters.
The Syrian opposition has called for military intervention similar to the no-fly zone that the council imposed to help Libyan rebels topple Moamer Gaddafi's regime.
Philippe Bolopion, director of Human Rights Watch at the United Nations in New York, said that for the first time after seven months of unrest in Syria the draft offered a "new opportunity to finally act in defense of the Syrian people."
Human Rights Watch said it particularly welcomed efforts to demand Syria's full cooperation with the inquiry commission mandated by the Human Rights Council.
Bolopion pointed out that Turkey was considering stronger measures against its neighbour as diplomatic interventions had so far failed to stop the violence.
The draft, in addition to strongly condemning the harsh military crackdown against civilian demonstrators, "demands" an immediate end to all violence, urges all sides to act with restraint and calls for holding those responsible accountable for human rights violations.
It "strongly condemns the continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities, such as arbitrary executions, excessive use of force and the killing and persecution of protesters and human rights defenders, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances ... torture and ill-treatment of detainees, also of children, and expresses profound regret at the deaths of thousands of people including women and children."
It would call on Damascus to stop using force against civilians, give access to human rights monitors and humanitarian agencies, and restore basic services such as access to hospitals.
It would call for an inclusive Syrian-led political process aimed at "addressing the legitimate aspirations and concerns of Syria's population."
Russia and China are opposed to military intervention in Syria. Other council members such as India, Brazil and South Africa have tried, so far in vain, to convince Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stop the crackdown.
The United Nations has said an estimated 2,700 people have been killed since the unrest erupted in March.