Syria: our responsability is to history [fr]
Syria Chemical - Security Council emergency meeting - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 7 April 2017
My statement is an extension of the joint communiqué issued last night by the President of the French Republic, Mr. François Hollande, and the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Ms. Angela Merkel.
I, too, would like to begin by expressing once again to Sweden our most sincere condolences and full solidarity with it following the tragic terrorist attack in Stockholm this morning.
The Security Council is meeting once again following the use of chemical weapons by the regime of Bashar Al-Assad. Almost four years after the large-scale massacre in Ghouta, in August 2013, the 4 April attack has revealed the truth: Al-Assad has never renounced the use of chemical weapons or deviated from his ultimate goal: the annihilation, pure and simple, of all those who resist him, whatever the price may be.
France has consistently called for strong action on the part of the international community in the face of the serious and repeated violations of international humanitarian law by the Damascus regime, which constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, as was already underscored by the Secretary-General in 2013 following the chemical attack of 21 August 2013.
My country has spared no effort to ensure that these crimes do not go unpunished. That includes proposing that the Security Council refer the matter to the International Criminal Court. Those initiatives, however, have been met with obstacles and vetoes, notably Russia’s. The Syrian regime has violated its international obligations to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction. The actions of Syria also constitute a clear violation of the resolutions of the Security Council.
In that context, the American airstrike constitutes a legitimate response to the chemical attack. The airstrike is also an important reminder that the future use of such weapons will not be tolerated.
To those who pretend to be astonished, Bashar Al-Assad bears full responsibility for the situation. For years, the regime has openly flouted the basic principles of our system of collective security. It has repeatedly and systematically violated its obligations under international humanitarian law, the norm on the prohibition of the use of chemical weapons, particularly against civilians, as well as Security Council resolutions. It has become imperative to respond and deter the regime from such actions.
Recourse by anyone to chemical weapons constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity, which cannot go unpunished. Syria cannot be an exception. That was already the position of France in the aftermath of the chemical attack on Ghouta, and we have never deviated from it. The international community can no longer be duped by the dilatory tactics of the Al-Assad regime.
In adopting resolution 2118 (2013), the Security Council made a very clear commitment to sanction any failure by Syria to fulfil its obligations. That has not prevented Bashar Al-Assad’s regime from continuing its repeated, methodical and barbaric use of weapons of mass destruction since 2013, openly flouting the authority of the Council and its international commitments. Those violations have been irrefutably documented by a mechanism created by the Security Council, the Joint Investigative Mechanism.
On 28 February, action by the Security Council was once again prevented by Russia’s unwarranted and abusive use of the veto . That blockage was perceived by the Al-Assad regime as a signal of impunity. In parallel, Russia has not met its responsibilities or exerted the necessary pressure on the regime in Damascus. It is the responsibility of all of the members of the Council to ensure that light be shed on the circumstances of the attack carried out by the Syrian regime in Khan Shaykhun and that its perpetrators are held accountable for their actions before a court of law.
France reiterates its full support for the mechanisms of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to carry out a diligent inquiry into the matter. France will not compromise regarding the disintegration of the chemical non-proliferation regime. France will continue to work with its partners to strengthen it in all relevant forums.
The attack of 4 April definitively demonstrated to the world the urgent need for a political solution in Syria. The maintenance in power of a dictator who carries out chemical attacks against civilians is not only a moral abomination. It is an unsustainable threat to the region and to the world.
All members of the Council agree on one point: the Syrian crisis will never be settled by military means alone. Today, because of the tragedy of Khan Shaykhun, we have the moral and political responsibility to reinvigorate the talks that have begun in Geneva to find a political settlement in Syria under the auspices of the United Nations. That is the top priotity.
In that context, France calls on the international community to coalesce around a political transition in Syria, in accordance with resolution 2254 (2015) and the Geneva communiqué of 30 June 2012 (S/2012/522, annex). France and its European partners will soon be circulating proposals in that regard.
Our responsibility is to history. Every member of the Security Council, particularly Russia, must live up to their responsibilities. We must commit ourselves to seeking an urgent political solution. It is an urgent matter because we are talking about the security of the Syrian people and the region. The fight against terrorism is at stake. Let us not forget that Al-Assad’s regime is the biggest generator of terrorism.