Bringing peace to Syria [fr]
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 27 June 2019
I thank Special Envoy Geir Pedersen for his clear and precise briefing on the issues and challenges of his mediation efforts. I reiterate France’s full support to him.
I will stress today the need to silence the weapons in Syria permanently and without delay so as to enable us to move towards a credible political process.
1/ Considering the degradation of the situation in the field, it is indeed urgent that we reach an immediate freeze of the frontlines in view of a national ceasefire, in accordance with resolution 2254 (2015).
Our number-one priority must be to address Idlib, where the pursuit of the regime and its allies’ offensive is dangerously undermining the Special Envoy’s efforts to revive the political process. That is the position that was reiterated by the 28 States members of the European Union in their statement on Idlib issued today. In the face of recent tragedies taking place in the north-western part of Syria, we must spare no effort to prevent Idlib from becoming a new Aleppo. The lives of 3 million people, including 1 million children, are at stake.
The particularly poignant testimony of the representative of the Syrian American Medical Society on Tuesday (see S/PV.8561), reminded us that humanitarian and medical staff and infrastructure continue to be targeted. We condemn in the strongest terms the most recent deliberate attack on an ambulance yesterday in Al-Bara, which killed two humanitarian personnel from the White Helmets, in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. In such tragic circumstances, it is particularly odious that the regime claims that humanitarian workers are working in collusion with terrorist organizations, while they carry out their work at such a high risk when far too often it is at the cost of their own lives.
I also underscore the particular responsibility of Russia, whose air support is necessary to the regime’s pursuit of its offensive. Combating terrorism is not the only justification for that offensive, which primarily affects the civilian population and infrastructure. The fight against those terrorist groups listed by the Security Council remains a priority for France, but it cannot be carried out in violation of international humanitarian law.
We therefore reiterate our call on Russia to reaffirm its commitment to the ceasefire and put pressure on the regime without further delay to stop the fighting, in particular with a view to enabling the establishment of a nationwide ceasefire. That is imperative in order for the political process to move forward smoothly.
In the north-east, we must pursue our efforts to completely and permanently eradicate the threat of Da’esh and stabilize the region. That was the message conveyed unanimously by the political directors of the international coalition against Da’esh who met in Paris on 25 June. To that end, France has also decided to allocate an additional €50 million for Syria, which will be mainly dedicated to the north-east.
2/ In that regard, I recall the urgent need to make progress on the political front in order to forge a meaningful prospect for achieving peace and reconciliation.
Our shared responsibility is to support the Special Envoy in advancing all aspects of resolution 2254 (2015). The Special Envoy enjoys our full support in bringing together the various international stakeholders around the same table, which, in our view, is a necessary condition for moving forward. He also has our full support for quickly finalizing a credible and balanced constitutional package that addresses the composition and procedural rules of the constitutional committee. However, we regret that no progress has been made in that regard. It is clear who remains responsible for that. The Syrian regime refuses every compromise and is stepping up delaying tactics to prevent that first opportunity for dialogue from succeeding.
It is incumbent on the Special Envoy to tell us frankly when he believes that he has exhausted all possible ways to achieve an agreement on the committee. If the regime maintains its opposition, it will be time for the Council to draw the necessary conclusions and to consider other ways to make progress.
In this respect, the establishment of confidence-building measures conducive to the creation of a safe and neutral environment is vital. This will require, inter alia, progress on the issue of detainees and missing persons, United Nations access to refugees and displaced persons who are returning home, and commitments by the regime to the safety of individuals and the return of their properties.
Lastly, I would like to record the importance of the subject of elections with a view to the upcoming polling. We must begin to reflect, based on resolution 2254 (2015), on the conditions necessary to ensure that the elections are free and fair; that all Syrians, including displaced persons and refugees, can participate; and that the United Nations will be involved in supervising the process. The Special Envoy here again has our full support to make headway in this respect. To resolve the Syrian tragedy, the Syrians need to be given the chance to freely express their views once again about the future of their country.
As we all know, only a political solution based on resolution 2254 (2015) will allow for Syria to be stabilized once and for all, for the lasting eradication of hotbeds of terrorism and for the return of refugees in safe and dignified conditions. France will continue its mobilization to that end during the upcoming international meetings, which we hope will allow for progress to be made.
We once again call on Russia, which has particular responsibility in this area, to bring pressure to bear on the regime to restore the ceasefire and to obtain commitments from it for the relaunch of a comprehensive political process.
Without credible political progress, our position on reconstruction, sanctions and normalization, which is also the position of the European Union, will remain unchanged.
It would be a serious error of judgment but also a serious political failure to consider that the Syrian tragedy is behind us. Faced with the new, incipient tragedy in Idlib, based on a scenario that we have seen time and again, no one will be able to say that they have been caught off guard. But it would be another error of judgment and another political error to think that the path of peace is out of reach. We all convinced of the opposite: that we can create the conditions to open up a credible political process, build on our common ground and once and for all bring peace to Syria. There is not a minute to lose; it is this pressing appeal that I make today on behalf of France.