31 August 2016 - Syria recalls the Security Council’s responsibilities [fr]
Monthly summary of the activities of the Security Council - Statement by Mr. Alexis Lamek, Deputy Permanent Representative - 31 August 2016
At the outset, allow me to congratulate you, Mr. President, on your presidency during the month of August, during which you presided over two open debates and two straw polls, two straw polls.
The straw polls showed that the Council’s procedures, which you, Sir, very effectively managed, indeed work. The best proof of that lies in the fact that the Council was able methodically to move forward in a unified manner on the very demanding work of selecting the individual who will lead the Organization as of next year. At the appropriate time, the Council willl have to make its recommendation to the General Assembly, pursuant to Article 97 of the Charter of the United Nations, in such a way as to enable the man or woman who will become the next Secretary-General to prepare for that difficult task.
I would also like to say a few words on Syria, which calls for the Security Council to assume its responsibilities. The consultations that took place yesterday following the submission of the report of the Joint Investigative Mechanism served to bring us face-to-face with our responsibilities. That is not vague wording, but a reality. The use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime and by Da’esh, as the report clearly established, constitutes a step backward that we cannot allow to go without a response, or there will be serious consequences. Those who committed those crimes — who are now known to us — must face up to their weighty responsibility.
The month of August also saw the Council closely following the very worrying humanitarian situation in Syria. The Security Council held an important and disturbing Arria Formula meeting on 8 August. I hope that it will contribute to raising greater awareness about the disaster in Aleppo. I would like to thank all the delegations that took part, even if some of them felt that they were implicated.
The Council moved to act on the situation in Aleppo owing to the humanitarian crisis. In the consultations that took place on 9 August, Mr. Stephen O’Brien and Mr. Staffan de Mistura expressed their deep concern and called upon the two co-Chairs of the International Syria Support Group to find a solution during their discussions in Geneva.
On 22 August, Mr. O’Brien spoke here of his great concern about the failure to deliver humanitarian aid to all the besieged towns in the country. He also expressed his hope that that would be the last time he had to ask for humanitarian access, which is an obligation guaranteed under international humanitarian law. Unfortunately, we are very far from that. On this issue too, the Council must show itself to be up to its responsibilities.
I just mentioned the chemical weapons in Syria. In fact, the issue of non-proliferation issue was also at the centre of the Council’s work this month. You, Mr. President, convened an open debate on the isue. However, the Council also dealt with the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Fortunately, we regained our unity this month, following a further, irresponsible provocation by the authorities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Council condemned in no uncertain terms the ballistic missile tests undertaken by Pyongyang, which constitute a direct threat to its neighbours. I recall that a missile landed this past month in the territorial waters of Japan, a Member of the United Nations and of the Security Council. It was also a threat to the non-proliferation regime, on which our collective security is based. We must reinforce our message and specify new listings so that the authorities in Pyongyang have no misunderstanding as to our determination to prevent them from continuing to advance their illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
By way of conclusion, on the issue of South Sudan, the month of August included follow-up by the Council with regard to the worsening of the situation in that country since July with the outbreak of violence in Juba. It was important for the Council to remind everyone of the importance it gives to the protection of civilians. The United Nations Mission in South Sudan is operating in a particularly difficult environment and is encountering a number of obstacles in implementing its mandate. It was therefore important for the Council to reiterate its full support for the Mission.
The Council also reminded the parties that they should recommit themselves to peace. Along with its regional partners, such as Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the African Union, the Council must continue to assume its responsibilities, as it will do in the coming days by undertaking a visit to South Sudan. It is high time for the Council to finally put in place an essential arms embargo for that beleaguered country — a common sense decision that we should have taken a long time ago.
I should like to conclude by mentioning Lebanon and pointing out that we adopted a strong presidential statement at the end of July to deplore the vacancy in the presidency. During the consultations with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations on 24 August, we pointed to the situation in southern Lebanon 10 years after the adoption of resolution 1701 (2006). We reiterated our collective support for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in carrying out its mandate to safeguard the cessation of hostilities.
On 30 August, we unanimously adopted resolution 2305 (2016) to extend the mission’s mandate for another year. We welcome the Council’s support for UNIFIL and for the stability of southern Lebanon — in a region, the Middle East, that does not deserve another crisis.
The month of August has therefore been one of great substance, and I would like to thank you, Sir, for your work during your presidency. I also welcome the presidency of New Zealand for the month of September, which will be equally busy.