26 February 2016 - Syria : "The cessation has to be more than a smokescreen" [fr]
Syria - Cessation of hostilities - Security Council - Intervention by M. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - 26 February 2016
France welcomes the unanimous adoption of resolution 2268 (2016), which endorses the cessation of hostilities agreement in Syria, which will enter into force in less than one hour. France has lent its full support to the adoption of the resolution, which offers hope for an immediate improvement of the situation of the Syrian people.
1/ Throughout the nearly five years of the Syrian crisis, France’s position has remained constant in support of the primacy of diplomacy over war in order to find a political solution that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people. For four months and since the first meeting in Vienna in October 2015, France has fully supported the diplomatic process that enabled the establishment of the International Syria Support Group, the adoption of resolution 2254 (2015) and the beginning in January of formal inter-Syrian negotiations under the auspices of the Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura.
France wants to see a process that will lead to tangible results for the Syrian people, not a process for the sake of a process. It certainly does not wish to see a process that would merely serve as a smokescreen to hide a military escalation, the main victims of which would be the civilian population and moderate opposition.
2/ We are of the firm belief, which was solidly and explicitly recalled by the Secretary-General in his letter of 17 February to the Security Council, that as long as Syrians see no difference in their daily lives the negotiations will have no credibility.
In that context, the cessation of hostilities agreed by the United States and Russia on 12 February should be welcomed as a contribution to the de-escalation and a step towards the settlement of the Syrian conflict. France, as I have said, fully supported the adoption of resolution 2268 (2016) endorsing the parameters of the cessation of hostilities.
This milestone is both a sign of hope and a test:
It represents the hope that, for the first time, Syrians will see a decrease in the violence and bombings that haunt their daily lives,
and a test of the good faith of the parties on the ground, including foreign Powers, that have accepted the cessation of hostilities.
3/ The role of the Security Council is therefore to support without hesitation anything that might lead to a lasting reduction in violence. However, the Council should also be realistic and exacting. As such, everything must be done to implement the agreement on the ground. To that end, France deems it necessary to exercise the utmost vigilance on two points.
First, the implementation of the agreement should be closely monitored, as mistrust between the parties on the ground has never been higher. In that regard, we recall that only those terrorist groups explicitly
designated by the United Nations are excluded from the cessation of hostilities. Strict interpretation of that point should be observed as, without it, peace cannot be established. The International Syria Support Group task force, which will report to the Security Council, will be the collective judge of its implementation. As long as the parties to the conflict remain the sole judges of violations and the resumption of hostilities, the whole structure will remain fragile.
The second point concerns attaining an effective and sustainable reduction in violence. In order for the inter-Syrian Geneva negotiations to resume on a credible foundation, we must ensure that the obligations recalled in resolution 2254 (2015) and the Munich communiqué — in particular the full, safe, unhindered and unconditional access of humanitarian assistance to affected populations — are fully implemented. As the Secretary-General himself indicated in his letter of 17 February, negotiations can succeed only if based on a credible and solid foundation. It will be up to the Special Envoy to determine whether these conditions are met on 7 March. The resumption of talks will be possible only if the commitments undertaken are scrupulously applied by the regime and the outside Powers that support it. In that regard, we are very concerned about the intensified bombings carried out by Syrian and Russian armed forces right up to the final hours before the entry into force of the cessation of hostilities.
France will encourage the opposition High Negotiations Committee to return to the inter-Syrian negotiation table as soon as the full and lasting implementation of international obligations has been noted, in particular humanitarian access to all besieged areas, as well as the effective implementation of the cessation of hostilities. The High Negotiations Committee is a major stakeholder and plays an essential role in the success of the negotiations. In that context, we deeply regret that it is not mentioned in the text of the resolution, whereas it enjoys and should retain our support.
4/ If the cessation of hostilities holds, an initial step will have been made towards a settlement to the Syrian crisis. Nevertheless, as long as the cessation of hostilities is not supported by political progress towards a transition consistent with the Geneva communiqué (S/2012/523, annex), it will remain fragile and reversible. In other words, the cessation of hostilities, which is fragile by nature, should move towards a ceasefire, which is more durable.
Resolution 2254 (2015) sets clear objectives. Allow me to briefly recall its terms. A ceasefire can take place only alongside a political process that includes the implementation of the first stages of the transition. When the inter-Syrian negotiations between the regime and the negotiators of the High Negotiations Committee resume, the parties should begin to formulate the terms of a compromise in order to set up a transitional authority with full executive powers, in accordance with the Geneva communiqué.
5/. France will continue to contribute fully to the diplomatic efforts of the Council and the International Syria Support Group with a view to allowing diplomacy prove its effectiveness for the benefit of the Syrian people.