Constitutional Committee in Syria: a first positive step in the political process [fr]
Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 30 September 2019
I thank the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for his specific and very detailed briefing on the progress made in the political process and on its upcoming stages.
France welcomes the announcement made by the Secretary-General as regards the Constitutional Committee, which is a first positive step in the framework of the political process provided for under resolution 2254 (2015). The agreement reached under the auspices of the Special Envoy represents an initial and decisive move forward that took about two years to take shape. We fully support the efforts made by Geir Pedersen aimed at ensuring that the Constitutional Committee can soon meet in Geneva and at facilitating its work.
It is vital that the Committee be in a position to make a useful contribution to restoring a political horizon in Syria. Determined action and a resolute commitment by all parties will be vital to ensuring that credible negotiations begin without delay and enabling the Constitutional Committee to discharge its mandate by providing Syria with a new constitution, in line with the provisions of resolution 2254 (2015). It is vital in particular to ensure that the security and integrity of the members of the future Constitutional Committee are fully respected. For this process to be a useful one, it is also necessary for the Syrian regime to at last engage in it in good faith. The work of the Committee must be a starting point for the elaboration of a comprehensive and inclusive political solution to which all Syrians, including women, will contribute.
This political process, in order to be credible, requires that security be ensured throughout Syrian territory, as noted by the Special Envoy. In that regard, France expresses its deep concern as regards the situation in Idlib, where the regime and its allies are pursuing an indiscriminate military operation whose primary victims are civilians. More than 1,000 civilians have already died in bomb attacks, and the population, with winter coming, will suffer even more from the consequences of this offensive, which could also lead to a dispersal of the terrorist elements currently present in the north-west. This relentless military action has to stop; we call for an immediate freeze of positions in Idlib and throughout Syria, which would be a first step towards a national ceasefire, in line with the provisions of resolution 2254 (2015). Only a lasting cessation of hostilities will allow for the creation of conditions conducive to discussions within the Constitutional Committee and for the lifting of impediments to humanitarian access. The combat against Da’esh and Al-Qaida, which continue to pose a threat to our security, must be our priority but must not serve as a pretext for indiscriminate strikes.
It is urgent now to progress in parallel on all of the elements contained in resolution 2254 (2015) so as to devise an inclusive political solution and open up genuine prospects for peace and reconciliation. The establishment of the Constitutional Committee is but one stage of the implementation of resolution 2254 (2015), which represents a road map for the international community in proposing a lasting, inclusive political solution for the future of all Syrians, definitely eradicating terrorism and ensuring the safe and dignified return of refugees under the auspices of the United Nations.
All of these elements must be implemented, which means that confidence-building measures must also be taken in order to ensure a safe and neutral environment. This includes the freeing of all detained or abducted persons and exchanges of information on missing persons. This also includes efforts to create the conditions necessary for the holding of free and regular elections, under United Nations supervision, in which all Syrians would participate, including refugees and displaced persons, as well as those living outside the country. Only in this way will Syrians will be able to take control of their future.
France will continue working in this regard along with its partners. That is the message that France and its partners from the small group conveyed during the ministerial meeting held on 26 September. We reiterate our support for the efforts of the Special Envoy to bring the small group and the Astana guarantors closer together within a single international forum in order to support the political process between the Syrian parties, under the auspices of the United Nations. France would recall that there can be no peace without justice and that the perpetrators of the atrocities committed in Syria each and every day must answer for their crimes.
Lastly, France reiterates its consistent position on reconstruction, which is the same as that of the European Union: we will not participate in reconstruction unless a comprehensive, genuine and inclusive political transition is implemented — not just initiated — on the basis of resolution 2254 (2015). Our position on sanctions and normalization also remains unchanged, as is our determination to contribute to helping Syria emerge from the war. There can be no purely military solution, and that is why it is more urgent than ever to move forward in a swift, resolute manner towards an inclusive political solution.