Syria (chemical weapons) - this vote is a moment of truth
Syria - Remarks to the press by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - 28 February 2017
We are about to vote on the chemical weapons in Syria. Let me just say a few things before the vote.
In the fog of today’s world, there are moments of truth, when one can no longer play games or shirk one’s responsibilities. This vote is one of those moments of truth, because the foundations of our values, of law and of our security are at stake.
Our values : we are talking here about the most barbaric kind of warfare, chemical weapons, weapons that were used during WWI a hundred years ago. Isn’t that the negation of all civilization?
The law : the Council unanimously considered that those responsible for murders involving chemical weapons had to be held accountable. What are we waiting for to implement the law that we ourselves helped enact unanimously?
Our security : if we close our eyes to the use of chemical weapons against civilian populations, what legitimacy will we have in the future when it comes to condemning nuclear terrorism or attempts of bacteriological apocalypse? Who can assume such a responsibility before history? On the scale of the threat to peace and security, we are at 10 here.
So what is at stake today are not tactical interests but our core principles and collective interest. The world is watching and waiting. Let’s show that we are equal to the UN Charter, let’s use the strength of the law to serve our common values, the values of the UN, and the interests of present and future generations.
Q: Any more meetings with the Russians, do you think they might change their position?
We are about to vote in a few minutes, so I guess they have made their mind and decided what they are going to vote.
Q: There were a number of concerns regarding the possible impacts on the Geneva process, is it concerning you?
The short answer is no. First of all, because, as we are all aware the Syrian regime has not moved an inch during the Geneva discussions. Second, because if anything hinders the Syrian reconciliation, it is the verified use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime against its population, not the resulting sanctions. Let’s be logical here. Third, what would be detrimental to the credibility of the Geneva process is that the Syrian regime and Daesh enjoy impunity to the repeated use of chemical weapons, as again confirmed by neutral bodies mandated by the Security Council.
Q: You had close consultations about this resolution with the American diplomats, did you notice a change in the US position about chemical weapons in Syria, and about a political process in Syria given that we have a new administration?
Given the fact that we have a new administration, it was perfectly legitimate to wait a bit, to make sure that they have made their mind. It is absolutely logical, natural. At the same time, we continued our conversation with our Russian colleagues and the others, leaving no stone unturned. Now we know for sure that there is a clear position from the Trump administration, that has decided to have the same position than we and our British friends have. So against this backdrop, we have together decided to go for a vote.
Q: There have been contradictory remarks coming out of the administration on Russia, how do you assess what the real position is?
It is absolutely clear here at the UN, in negotiating with my colleague and friend Nikki Haley. And that is why I was saying to your colleague with respect to not only the threat of proliferation but the use of weapons of mass destruction against civilian populations, the Trump administration is absolutely clear, has a very clear position, which is also our position, the British position, and the position of the majority of the members of the Security Council, which is to consider that it is absolutely unacceptable, we are talking about barbaric actions here against civilians. So we are on the same page.