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Entering Fifth Year of Syrian Civil War; Humanitarian Support Cannot Keep Pace with Need; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired August 11, 2015 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: a special edition of the program, where we look back at some of the highlights of the
year so far.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Good evening, everyone, and welcome to a special edition of our program, here at the Palais de Nations. And in a
moment, I'll be speaking to two of the U.N.'s top high commissioners about the global challenges of refugees and human rights.
It also happens to coincide with the war in Syria that is entering its fifth year this week and today a coalition of human rights and aid
organizations has issued a damning report, giving the U.N. Security Council an F grade for failing to stop the war in Syria and failing to stem the
tide of human suffering.
AMANPOUR: Antonio Guterres, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees; Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, thank you for
joining me. Good to have you tonight.
Let me ask you straightaway, the world is flooded with refugees, the Syria war has simply made this front and center of really our agenda right
now. There's been a lot of criticism about how the world has simply failed Syria.
What would you say to that kind of criticism?
ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES: Well, for me it's very simple. We lived in a unipolar world before in a bipolar world.
There was not a global government system. But there were clear power relations.
Today we live in a world that is no longer unipolar or bipolar. It's also not multipolar. It's chaotic. Unpredictability and impunity became
the name of the game. Anybody can suffer crisis anywhere, not being afraid of anything.
Security Council is essentially paralyzed in the key issues that we are facing, be it Syria or in many other situations. And the result is
obvious. Conflicts multiply; old conflicts are not solved and the number of people displaced is increasing in a dramatic way and the number of
victims of all kinds is increasing in a dramatic way.
AMANPOUR: Just to be clear, I believe the number is 51 million refugees around the world today.
Is that correct?
GUTERRES: Between refugees of cross-borders and people that are displaced within the borders of their own country and normally worse
because sometimes their own government is part of the problem and not part of the solution.
You have today for the first time since the Second World War more than 50 million people.
AMANPOUR: And with those more than 50 million people come the most unbelievable and wholescale violation of human rights.
Are you even able to address the issue of human rights in some of these countries but especially during war and conflict?
ZEID RA'AD AL HUSSEIN, U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: Make no mistake, Christiane. There will be justice done to the victims. Just
look at the trial soon to take place of the former president of Chad. Habre will go on trial very soon in Senegal for alleged crimes committed 30
Today I met, for instance, with the commission of inquiry on Syria. We have a massive amount of evidence. There are lists with people's names
on them and justice will be done.
It may not be immediate --
HUSSEIN: -- and not in every case will we see perpetrators brought. But we are hopeful that, as we go through this transition from total
impunity to justice being realized, we will honor the victims and the kin of the victims.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Guterres, people generally are generous. Governments who don't do enough to stop a war often empty their pockets to help the
victims, the refugees.
And yet this year, 2014, we've seen a dramatic falloff in government commitments to help refugees in Syria and elsewhere, but particularly in
Syria; as the crisis gets worse, the attention seems to get less. The amount of money, the amount of help seems to get less.
How do you explain that?
GUTERRES: To be honest, there is not less money. The humanitarian support has been even increasing. The problem is that the needs are
growing in a much faster pace. Just to give you some figures, 2011, the number of people displaced by conflict per day: 14,000; 2012, 23,000;
So the needs of the people are increasing exponentially and the support that is provided increases but at a much slower pace.
And so all the humanitarian appeals around the world are dramatically underfunded. The average -- around 50 percent -- of the needs are covered,
which means that 50 percent of very basic things linked to core protection, to life saving, 50 percent of the things that should be done are not done.
AMANPOUR: And take the Syria case as we stay with Syria, the fact that ISIS has come on the scene, does that hinder your work even more than
it was hindered before?
GUTERRES: There are two kinds of problems. One is resources; the other is access. Obviously when we deal with refugees outside the country,
we have no access problems. We can -- there the only limitation is resources.
But when we deal inside the country of conflict, the questions of access become paramount and both in Syria and Iraq we have today dramatic
problems of access in different areas of the country and of course the emergence of ISIS just made it even worse, even more problematic.
AMANPOUR: This report that came out today, a group of human rights organizations and other organizations around the world -- I'm sorry, but
they had very shocking comments. They said the state of Syria, the human rights violations, the fact that the people are still being slaughtered --
we're entering the fifth year of war -- is a stain on the international community's conscience.
How do you react to that?
And how are you measuring the level of abuse now in Syria because of ISIS as the added violator of human rights?
HUSSEIN: Well, clearly, wickedness has almost been redefined in Syria and Iraq. Never before has it been so visible -- actual executions being
presented in the most intimate detail, almost for the viewer. And it's beyond expression almost in trying to capture how appalling these images
We have constant monitoring of the situation. As I said, there's a fact-finding mission or other -- a commission of inquiry in Syria that's
been now working there for four years, working around the region and then we have a fact-finding mission in Iraq, which will submit its report very
soon and also detailing, chronicling the crimes having been committed.
As I said before, we have now transitioned into a world where there will be less and less impunity and I'm absolutely sure that at some stage
the evidence will find its way into prosecutors who are able to prosecute, at least the worst offenders of these crimes.
AMANPOUR: While we're waiting to do that, while we're waiting for the long game to maybe one day bring these people to justice, how do we
convince, as some have asked, the people in Syria, who believe that the world has forgotten and abandoned them, that we still are committed to
human rights -- their human rights?
HUSSEIN: It is very difficult. I served on the U.N. Security Council last year in my previous capacity. And the sense of frustration, I think,
on the part of all members in terms of the inability to arrest this descent into a bloodbath as the crisis emerges is very palpable.
And of course the victims are going to feel let down and we can feel the failure, the collective failure as we see the stories day by day on the
HUSSEIN: Who wouldn't feel very frustrated? But be that as it may, we -- it doesn't mean we stop. We have to remain committed to try and put
this war to an end. And it has happened in the past. We should never say never in this regard.
AMANPOUR: And yet -- and I speak to you not just as High Commissioner for Refugees, but as a former prime minister and politician who's had to
deal with this, we're sitting in Geneva where the so-called Geneva peace process for Syria was meant to have taken hold and it hasn't. And for more
than a year now, nothing has happened in the peace domain.
Given the fact that these wholescale refugee crises or human rights crises generally happen in conflict and war, do you think that somebody
such as yourself, the High Commissioner for refugees, or somebody such as yourself, the human rights, should be at the peace table as well, should
have a role in trying to negotiate the peace?
I mean, let's face it. The U.N. Security Council has been given an F grade. The politicians have been given a failing grade over Syria.
GUTERRES: I think that here we have a serious problem of lack of leadership and convening power. There is a number of countries that has
inviolate (ph) influence in what's happening in Syria today. The two parties will not be able to fight without the strong support they receive,
in money and arms, from the outside.
And there is a group of countries that is key in relations to what's happening today in Syria. And these countries today, they are all losing.
Nobody's winning. This is a war that is causing trouble to everybody. It's a war that has completely destabilized the region.
Look at Iraq. It's a war that became a global threat to peace and security. So I do believe that there is a common interest in stopping this
war. The question is there is nobody in the world with the convening power able to bring these five or six countries together and say to them let's
get together. Let's forget our contradictions. Let's stop this nonsense.
AMANPOUR: On that note, we're going to take a short break and when we come back, we're going to talk about the challenges that both of you face
around the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voice-over): This event is in honor of one of the U.N.'s leading lights, Sergio Vieira de Mello, a diplomat who helped bring peace
to the Balkans, shepherded East Timor to independence and after a host of other top assignments was tragically killed by the predecessors of ISIS who
bombed U.N. headquarters in Iraq in 2003.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program, where we continue our discussion about the challenges of leadership in our world in turmoil. And
I'm joined once again by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al
Beyond Syria, it's not just the region that's --
AMANPOUR: -- affected by the overflow of the refugees; it's here in Europe as well. All we have to do is look at these tragic boatloads of
people who force their ways into these unseaworthy vessels and, more often than not, many of them die trying to reach freedom.
The E.U. has -- it has been said -- well, the E.U. has put its own Triton experience to try to save these people and Italy has stopped what
was quite a successful operation to try to save these people -- it was called Mare Nostrum.
It's been said that the E.U. should place valuing human rights and people's lives back at the top of their agenda.
Is that a fair criticism of the E.U., in how its tackling what's happening in front of our eyes in the seas off Italy?
GUTERRES: Well, this is something that I have to be very emotional about it, because it really breaks my heart that a Syrian family, that has
seen their house destroyed, that has seen members of the family being killed, has to risk their lives again, putting themselves in the hands of
smugglers and traffickers that are horrible violators of human rights to perish in the Mediterranean just to get to Europe.
And Mare Nostrum was a very successful operation. But the Triton does not replace Mare Nostrum. The Triton is not conceived to rescue lives; the
Triton was conceived to protect European borders. And what we need is a strong, a robust rescue at sea operation in Central Mediterranean and
actually it's the E.U. responsibility to put it in place.
What we have now is not doing the job. And the idea that the Mare Nostrum was attracting people, look, today, we have 43 percent more
crossings in January and February than in January and February last year with the Mare Nostrum.
People are not moving because of -- were not moving because of Mare Nostrum; people were moving because they were desperate. And they looked
at Europe as the only place where they would find safety.
AMANPOUR: Now you know the Italian government has said that refugees or immigrants who want to come over should be processed in camps in those
countries where they come from -- I don't know, Libya, where?
Does that make any sense to you?
GUTERRES: I think that, for the moment, what is important is to, first of all, save lives; second, it is important of course to fight
smuggling and trafficking. It is important to address root causes whenever possible.
But in some conditions, if we could offer the possibility to people to have a center where they could receive asylum from a European country
without having to cross the Mediterranean in these tragic circumstances, of course that would -- could be a good idea.
But then we would need to make sure that first all rights would be respected; second, that these will be not a prison or a jail but it will be
a free center; third, that all those that will be found in need of protection would be received in Europe.
So I think that for the moment what would be important was -- would be to give more visa flexible -- more visa flexible policies and admit more
people through these regular channels, would be to have more family reunification programs, more resettlement and humanitarian admission
And I have to say there are two European countries that are doing it and are doing it quite well -- Germany and Sweden. What we need is all
European countries to follow their example.
AMANPOUR: Well, all European countries or a lot of them anyway are faced with this very unsettling rise of xenophobic, racist, anti-immigrant
parties, which have done well in European elections and threaten to do well in national elections in some of our countries.
How worried are you as human rights commissioner about that eventuality?
HUSSEIN: Well, I think the exploitation by populist leaders in various countries of this issue is shameful. And it really has to stop.
One need only recall that across the lake from where we're sitting in 1938, before the Holocaust came into being, Hitler wanted to and was
proposing, moving, deporting the Jewish population out of Germany. There was a meeting in Evian in 1938 and the countries attending all refused to
accept any movement of Jewry into their countries.
Some saying that they didn't want to import a racial problem. And of course then the Holocaust followed. I think we have to be mindful of
history. We have to be mindful of exploiting these poor people as Antonio said, who've lost everything in many cases when -- and view them --
HUSSEIN: -- as if they're not human, as if they don't have the rights that we all have. And so I hope that movements that exploit the
presence of migrants and others, who are vulnerable, will take a deeper breath and think about what it is that they're doing. We cannot replace
scenes from the 20th century. No longer do we find this acceptable.
AMANPOUR: Let's go all the way across the sea again to Saudi Arabia, a country which has been criticized loudly by many, many people for its
violations of human rights, against women, against bloggers -- can you even get through to Saudi Arabia?
Do you even have a dialogue that amounts to a real dialogue about human rights there?
HUSSEIN: Well, it's a good question. Yes, we have a dialogue and you can look at the absolute condition and say that there's so many things that
need to be addressed -- absolutely. We can also look at changes in terms of trajectory that are encouraging.
You know, these are early changes when one considers women's rights, for instance, 100 years ago women suffered abominably everywhere,
everywhere around the world and throughout the 20th century.
And now we see these patterns changing very quickly. In Saudi Arabia we see women beginning businesses, becoming business leaders in very narrow
sections of society. And when we have a workshop on human rights, they participate actually. So the changes within the country are detectable.
They may be few, but they're detectable.
And just as we should be outspoken, when it comes to gross violations, we need to encourage those changes from within so that they take place.
AMANPOUR: Molasses, some people say, in terms of describing change coming to Saudi Arabia in these particular issues, particularly women's
Both of you, Palestinians and Israelis, we have just seen yet another war in Gaza. We've had yet more pledges by the international community to
rebuild Gaza after parts that were once again flattened. We understand that almost nothing of the billions of dollars that were pledged has
arrived and almost nothing has been rebuilt.
How much of a challenge is that on both issues, on refugees and people, whether they're internally or displaced outwards and on their human
GUTERRES: I think that, first of all, the Palestinian refugees are handled by another agency --
GUTERRES: -- of course, we are all citizens of the world and --
AMANPOUR: I guess the real question is in some of these countries like Saudi Arabia, it's quite difficult for the U.N. to get through, some
of the human rights issues.
In Israel also it's quite difficult because they criticize you for being -- for not being impartial.
GUTERRES: The one thing that for me is very clear is that the fact that the Israeli-Palestinian question is not solved, is the fact that
aggravates many of the other crises we have dealt with. And I think international community should invest much more into creating the
conditions for this problem to be solved.
And in many situations where we go, when we criticize the aspects related to human rights or to refugee protection that is not effective, an
argument that is usually presented was, ahh, but why doesn't this happen in Gaza?
So indeed, the capacity of the international community to address and to solve the Palestinian problem is, in my opinion, an essential element
for many other crises -- not to solve them, because we know that these things have their own dynamics, but at least it would be a positive factor
in facilitating the solution of other problems.
AMANPOUR: On that note, High Commissioners, thank you very much indeed for joining me, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein and Antonio Guterres.
GUTERRES: Thank you.
HUSSEIN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And when we come back, imagine your world plunged totally into darkness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voice-over): From space, you can see parts of the globe already have. Look at this satellite image showing nighttime on the Korean
Peninsula, the rich, democratic South ablaze in electric light while the impoverished, dictatorial North, shrouded in dark.
And now the lights are out as the civil war enters its fifth year in Syria. We'll show you -- after a break.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, as the Syrian people embark on a bitter fifth year of war, imagine their world plunged into total darkness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Almost three-quarters of all the lights in the country have gone out since the war began in 2011. And these satellite
images taken from 800 kilometers above Earth prove it.
Scientists at a university in China linked up with dozens of aid organizations to capture the stark progression of a slow descent into
blackness over the past four years of war. Indeed, they say, the number of lights visible in Syria at night has fallen by 83 percent.
Of course in some places, like the government-controlled capital, Damascus, the electricity cuts are not as severe. But in others, like
Aleppo, which is partly rebel held, a staggering 97 percent of the lights are out.
Now with over 200,000 people dead, half the population of 23 million forcibly displaced and yet another year of war starting, the With Syria
coalition is calling the world to turn the lights back on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And that's it for this special edition of our program. Remember you can always see the whole show online at amanpour.com, and
follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for watching and goodbye from Geneva.