Taking sides:The United Nations’ loss of impartiality, independence and neutrality in Syria.

Executive Summary

By choosing to prioritise cooperation with the Syrian government at all costs, the UN has enabled the distributio of billions of dollars of international aid to be directed
by one side in the conflict. This has contributed to the deaths of thousands of civilians, either through starvation, malnutrition-related illness, or a lack of access to medical
aid. It has also led to the accusation that this misshapen UN aid operation is affecting – perhaps prolonging – the course of the conflict itself.
To date the UN has not undertaken a single aid
delivery from Damascus without government
consent, despite multiple Security Council
resolutions sanctioning this.
This report documents a departure from humanitarian principles beginning with the UN’s failure to deliver aid to the government-besieged town of Daraa at the very start of the crisis in 2011. The government of Syria used the explicit threat of removing the UN’s permission to operate within Syria and withdrawing visas for its non Syrian staff to keep humanitarians from delivering aid to Daraa. The Syrian government has used this threat consistently since then to manipulate where, how and to whom the UN has been able to deliver humanitarian aid.

Facing this attack on their humanitarian principles, UN agencies did not unite or set out red lines or conditions for their cooperation with the Syrian government. Rather, they chose to accept the government’s constraints on their operation. As a result, a culture of compliance was born.

UN agencies were unwilling to push hard for access to areas outside of government control. In the words of one recent evaluation by the UN itself, agencies were “simply not willing to jeopardise their operations in Syria by taking a tougher stance with the government. The reasons for this are beyond the scope of this evaluation, but will surely bescrutinised unfavourably at a later point.”1
That point is now. This report scrutinises not only the UN’s reasons for failing to take a tougher stance with the government, but also the impact of this failure upon Syrian civilians and the conflict itself.
The UN has provided the Syrian government with an effective veto over aid deliveries to areas outside of government control, enabling its use of sieges as a weapon of war.
While there are people in need all over Syria, by putting the Syrian government in charge of humanitarian aid this way, the UN has beleaguered its ability to deliver aid to those who need it most. To date the UN has not undertaken a single aid delivery from Damascus without government consent, despite multiple Security Council resolutions sanctioning this.
The UN has allowed the Syrian government to direct aid from Damascus almost exclusively into its territories. In April 2016, 88% of food aid delivered from inside Syria
went into government-controlled territory. 12% went int territories outside the government’s control.2
Some months provide an even starker illustration of the government’s use of UN aid to further its own agenda. In August 2015, the government directed over 99% of UN aid from inside the country to its territories.3
In 2015, less than 1% of people in besieged areas received UN food assistance each month.4
The full report: http://takingsides.thesyriacampaign.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/taking-sides.pdf