France is not resigned to the deadlock on Syria [fr]
Syria - Explanation of vote by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - 5 December 2016
We deeply regret that the draft resolution (S/2016/1026) submitted by Egypt, Spain and New Zealand could not be adopted. Given the extremely grave situation in Syria, it was and is the responsibility of the members of the Security Council to give their unreserved support to everything that would enable us to save lives. That is what France did today, alongside the large majority of the members of the Council, aware of the overwhelming responsibility that we have to maintain international peace and security.
The draft text submitted to us was not, by definition, perfect. It was the result of compromise. However, had it been adopted, it would have reconstituted a fragile ray of hope, admittedly partial and late in arrival, that would have allowed us to work, and work together, to save lives, put an end to the tragedy of Aleppo and seek the conditions for a political solution.
In demanding a total halt to attacks for a renewable seven-day period so as to allow humanitarian actors to meet the urgent needs in eastern Aleppo, we were not asking for a concession. It was the minimal response to the repeated demands from the United Nations and humanitarian actors, which for months have been relayed by members of the Council, beginning with France. It was the minimal delay necessary to allow access for humanitarian assistance and medical evacuations under the responsibility of the United Nations, in accordance — it should be recalled — with obligations under international humanitarian law. We were only demanding that the regime and those who support it finally conform to the obligations that they have under international humanitarian law.
By delaying the negotiations as long as possible, and then opposing a very moderate draft text, Russia chose to remain deaf to the appeals of the international community and to continue its support, with that of Iran, for the efforts of the Syrian regime seeking to take Aleppo regardless of the human cost. That is the meaning of those successive vetoes.
Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, France has defended an unchanging position, that is, the primacy of a negotiated solution, given that a military solution is impossible, as only a political solution will allow us to meet the aspirations of the Syrian people, ensure lasting peace and combat terrorism. France is convinced that the headlong military rush by the regime and its supporters is not simply a moral fault but also a strategic error — a strategic error that, beyond Syria, endangers the international community as a whole. Without a political solution, Syria will remain what it is today: a devastated and divided country, prey to incessant fighting and the foremost bastion of international terrorism.
However, France is not resigned to the deadlock that we see here again today. As I have said, the only solution to the Syrian conflict is political. Nothing will cause France to deviate from that conviction. Nothing will make us deviate from the road map that was agreed to by the international community — a political solution based on the Geneva communiqué (S/2012/522, annex) and resolution 2254 (2015), with the establishment of a transition authority having full executive power. That is not an ideological position; it is the only possible solution imposed by the reality in Syria.
We have noted that the limited-format discussions in Lausanne and Geneva have not made it possible to halt the current offensive. For that reason, France calls for the immediate relaunching of a credible and inclusive international dialogue that brings together all actors involved in the Syrian conflict to save the martyred population of Aleppo from destruction. France hopes that the initiative brought by Canada to the General Assembly demanding the stopping of all attacks can be carried out.
In such dark hours for Aleppo and Syria, which, if we are not mistaken, challenge the credibility of the Council, we have no right to give up. We have the moral and political obligation to take action, and therefore to come together to put an end to the tragedy in Aleppo and seek the conditions for a political solution, which, once again, is the only possible solution to the Syrian tragedy. That will be the essence behind all of France’s efforts.