Syria/JIM: today’s vote cannot be the final word [fr]
Syria/JIM - Speech by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 17 November 2017
France is appalled by the result of the voting as a result of Russia’s veto — its third on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), its fifth on the Syrian chemical dossier this year, and its eleventh on Syria. Let us be clear. We respect and will always respect Russia, to which we are linked by many ties, but this growing number of vetoes raises questions. The question raised today is especially grave because it is fraught with potential consequences for the fight against the proliferation and use of chemical weapons. Today’s veto poses a serious threat to our common security.
What is at stake? If the JIM mandate is not renewed before midnight, it will be dissolved. That means that months of joint and good faith effort against the proliferation and use of chemical weapons in Syria will disappear with it.
The goal of draft resolution S/2017/970, submitted by Japan — whose commitment I warmly commend — was a purely technical renewal of the regime for one month. It did not require a political statement of position, much less of ideology. It was a neutral, technical text that would have given us the time necessary to consider and discuss — in a word, to reach agreement and demonstrate to the entire world that the Council can meet its responsibilities.
If we do not take care, the outcome of today’s voting as a result of Russia’s veto could have a threefold effect.
First, without any new development before midnight, it would signify ipso facto the end of the JIM, a mechanism created by the Council at the initiative of Russia and the United States to combat the proliferation and use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Secondly, the vote threatens to undermine the mechanics of the international chemical non-proliferation regime. It will be interpreted by some as giving carte blanche to the proliferation and use of such weapons elsewhere, since we have been collectively incapable of preventing or punishing it in Syria. Moreover, it threatens to create a fertile breeding ground for chemical terrorism, which we will fear.
Thirdly, given the fact that the international chemical non-proliferation regime is highly evolved, its weakening could establish a dangerous and potentially fatal precedent for the other non-proliferation regimes, which the community of nations drafted and developed patiently year after year, stone upon stone, over preceding decades and which constitute the backbone of our collective security.
If all of this should come about, we will pay a heavy price for it.
We must therefore not be discouraged by these disastrous possibilities. If we believe in what we do — if each of us believes that we are here for a reason and with a mission — it is impossible to give up. We have no right to do so.
I therefore wish to share France’s deep conviction that today’s disastrous vote cannot be the final word. France will resign itself neither to this apparent failure nor to political games that fall far short of what is at stake.
In the face of the enormity and gravity of those stakes, we have no right to give up while the eyes of the entire world are upon us. We have no right to be discouraged.
My country can be relied upon to pursue its efforts in all appropriate forums in order to combat impunity in Syria and elsewhere and to promote, everywhere and at all times, the strengthening of the non-proliferation regimes on which everyone’s security depends.