August 2013
ALP – National Campaign Headquarters


Federal Labor has consistently condemned the violence and human suffering in Syria. As of August 2013: an estimated 100,000 people have been killed and 6.8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. The crisis has generated around two million refugees.

Australia’s direct assistance is focused on providing humanitarian relief through United Nations (UN) agencies and NGOs. Australia has provided $100 million in humanitarian assistance to those affected by the violence in Syria, making Australia one of the top ten country donors. Our funding is helping to provide medical supplies and emergency food assistance, evacuate people injured in the conflict, and support refugees.

Federal Labor is pushing for international action to support a political transition in Syria. As a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC), Australia has consistently urged the Council to take action in response to this crisis.

The Rudd Labor Government has welcomed the first meeting on 26 July between UNSC members and the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, led by its newly elected President Ahmad al-Jarba. Federal Labor’s strong view is that the only solution to this conflict is a political settlement, and we welcome the National Coalition’s confirmation at the meeting that it is committed to such a settlement. Australia has acknowledged the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

Federal Labor supports the UN Secretary-General’s investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons. The Labor Government has urged all parties in Syria, particularly the Assad regime, to cooperate fully with the investigation.

Australia co-sponsored seven resolutions on Syria in the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 and 2012, as well as the UN General Assembly resolutions of 19 December 2012 and 15 May 2013. Australia also participates in the Group of the Friends of the Syrian People, including its working groups on sanctions (we co-chaired with Bulgaria and UAE the 6th sanctions working group meeting in Sofia on 26 February), and on economic recovery and development.

There is currently no proposal for military intervention, not is this being contemplated by the UNSC. The Labor Government is not considering military assistance, and has expressed about arming opposition groups. The Foreign Minister, Senator Bob Carr, said on 23 May 2013, while visiting Syrian refugees in Lebanon, that Australia was not advocating military action. Australia currently has an arms embargo preventing the transfer of any military equipment to Syria.

The Labor Government imposes a range of autonomous sanctions measures in an effort to press the Assad regime to end the violence and commit to an inclusive process of political transition. These measures do not target the Syrian people. They include asset freezes and travel bans on 106 individuals and 28 entities, restrictions on trade in precious metals, diamonds and luxury goods, and restrictions on trade in the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors.

It is also illegal under Australia law for any person in Australia, or any Australian citizen, to provide support to armed groups in Syria. This includes fighting for either side or providing weapons.

A Community Fact Sheet outlining the Australian Government’s position in relation to the situation in Syria has been developed by the Attorney General’s Department and is available in seven languages. The Fact Sheet has also been provided directly to leaders from approximately 40 community organisations.

ALP Syria 1


ALP Syria 2