Syria/JIM: France is appalled by today’s vote [fr]

Security Council - Syria/JIM - Speech by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - 16 November 2017

"I would like to share a profound belief with the Council. Today’s vote cannot be the final word. France will not resign itself to failure or resort to playing political games that will not address the current challenges. Given the gravity of such challenges, we have no right to give up or to lose heart. " François Delattre, 16 November 2017.

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France is appalled by today’s vote and the result of the Russian veto. This result is particularly serious in and of itself, but it is also potentially fraught with consequences for the future.

The situation we are confronted with — the proven use of chemical weapons in Syria — is indeed one of those case studies that should provoke a unanimous and immediate mobilization of the Security Council.

All conditions are there for that result. Faced with the despicable use of chemical weapons in Syria, the Security Council created the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigation Mechanism (JIM) to establish facts and responsibilities. In keeping with its mandate, this investigative mechanism works tirelessly with undeniable professionalism and impartiality. It leads to clear, well-documented conclusions that unambiguously prove the responsibility of the Syrian regime in several cases and that of Da’esh in others.

Contrary to what the professionals of confusion would have us believe, we are not in a gray zone here. The situation in all its horror is crystal clear. In the twenty-first century, terrorists — and a State — are intentionally using chemical weapons to kill women and children, among others. Their faces disfigured by an atrocious death will long haunt our memories and our consciences.

And in the face of this situation, one of the major players in the international community — one of the major partners of my country, to which we are bound by so many links — has decided for the fourth time to veto the renewal of the Mechanism in order to protect the Damascus regime. Such an attitude leaves those who deeply respect Russia speechless. This cannot be the last word of that great country whose role in the international balance of power is decisive.

It is even more true that the raison d’être of the JIM is more justified than ever. More than 60 cases of use need to be examined. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has already confirmed for us the use of sarin gas on 30 March in Latamneh. That is why France supported the draft resolution prepared by the United States and would like to acknowledge the efforts of our American friends who worked with all the delegations to propose the renewal of the JIM by presenting a balanced text which contains substantial concessions aimed precisely at trying to bring members of the Council together.

Let us carefully assess the seriousness of the issues together. Beyond Syria, what is at stake first and foremost is the safeguarding of the most basic human rights and the fight against impunity. The use of chemical weapons is not only morally untenable and legally unacceptable; it is also a terrifying step backward for all of us, as the Syrian regime and Da’esh are trying to outdo one another to see who is the more horrific and barbaric. Let us also not forget that these atrocities are war crimes, and they have made chemical terrorism into a dangerous reality.

What is also at stake today is the future of the international non-proliferation regime. While international non-proliferation regimes are one of the major achievements of recent decades, we should not let the most successful of them — the chemical regime — be undermined by political calculation and division. It would be a deadly precedent for the other non-proliferation regimes and an irresponsible attitude for which we would all pay a high price.

The use of chemical weapons by anyone is not just a moral abomination against the most basic principles of humanity: to look away — to accept the use of chemical weapons in Syria without reacting — would amount in fact to giving a blank check or a green light to the proliferation and the use of these weapons elsewhere and would create, moreover, the most favourable soil for the very chemical terrorism that all of us fear.

We created the JIM upon the joint initiative of Russia and the United States in order to transcend political disagreements and establish the truth. That is why we established it.
It is therefore a moral failure and a strategic mistake on the part of those who renege on their word and commitments when the truth comes to light.

The JIM was never a Western tool. It belongs to the entire international community and we are duty-bound to strengthen it. The Mechanism cannot and must not be held to ransom by political squabbles, or worse, tactical games.

Undermining the JIM is tantamount to playing with fire, and could, in the long-term, jeopardize the non-proliferation regime, in particular with regard to chemical weapons, which we all built block by block. The JIM should be able to conduct its activities without preconditions or interference.

A political solution alone will enable us to put an end to the horrendous conflict in Syria, through a negotiated and credible democratic transition, in accordance with resolution 2254 (2015) and the Geneva Communiqué. However, there will be no sustainable peace in Syria in an environment of impunity. Peace will depend on justice and justice requires the means for determining those responsible for committing atrocities in Khan Shaykhun, and other chemical attacks, who must be held accountable for their criminal acts.

I would like to share a profound belief with the Council. Today’s vote cannot be the final word. France will not resign itself to failure or resort to playing political games that will not address the current challenges. Given the gravity of such challenges, we have no right to give up or to lose heart.

The Council can count on France’s continued efforts in all relevant forums to combat impunity in Syria and elsewhere, and to promote, forever and everywhere, the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime on which our security depends.

Dernière modification : 20/11/2017

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