The resolution on Syria is vital [fr]
Adoption of resolution 2401 - Explanation of vote by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 24 February 2018
France welcomes the unanimous adoption of resolution 2401 (2018), which demands that a cessation of hostilities be established without delay throughout Syria, in order to enable humanitarian personnel to evacuate the wounded and to gain access to the population. The negotiations were arduous. However, despite their differences in approach, the members of the Security Council managed to prevail in the name of the humanitarian imperative. The resolution is vital in the true meaning of that word, since halting the shelling and evacuating the wounded are matters of life and death for thousands of Syrian people, especially in eastern Ghouta, which has been under siege by the Damascus regime for days. I would like to thank the delegations of Kuwait and Sweden — which introduced the resolution, with our support — for their efforts, perseverance and outstanding work in arriving at a robust text.
As by President Macron and the Secretary-General forcefully recalled last Wednesday, it is imperative and urgent to end the shelling of eastern Ghouta, Idlib and the whole of Syrian territory immediately. That was the thrust of yesterday’s joint call by President Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel to President Putin during their demanding and close conversation on the issue. It is also the reason for our vote today. The resolution is the outcome of our concerted efforts, as well as a belated response to the violence unleashed against civilians in eastern Ghouta and elsewhere.
Let us make no mistake: a cessation of hostilities for an initial 30 days to enable humanitarian access to meet vital urgent needs is only the very first step. It is the minimal response to the repeated demands of both the United Nations and humanitarian actors, which have been conveyed for months by Council members, in particular by France.
It is now up to the regime’s supporters to ensure full compliance with the cessation of hostilities without delay and to respond to all requests for access to humanitarian assistance and medical evacuations in accordance with the text we have just adopted. We specifically call on the guarantors of the Astana process to assume their responsibilities and effectively ensure that the Syrian regime immediately cease its hostilities and ensure respect for the basic principles and rules of international humanitarian law and human rights law. It is urgent that humanitarian assistance reach without delay the people who need it. Every minute counts because every minute can lead to the loss of lives.
Nothing would be worse than to see this resolution remain a dead letter. That is why France will be extremely vigilant on all those points over the coming hours and days.
We all know that a return to stability in Syria is the only way to put a definitive end to the humanitarian crisis, for which a political solution is required. More than ever, therefore, we must redouble our efforts to establish a neutral environment that will enable a credible political process and elections to be held in Syria, as part of the Geneva process and resolution 2254 (2015). France is ready to continue working tirelessly with its partners to that end.
As we said yesterday in this forum, the elements for a regional and potentially major international confrontation have coalesced today. That is a risk that must be taken very seriously. We must therefore come together, as we have done today, to put an end to the humanitarian catastrophe under way, prevent a spillover of the conflict and seek an inclusive political solution in Syria. These are three indissociable priorities, and our generation will be judged on whether or not we are able to put an end to the Syrian tragedy.
This text is a potentially important step, but it is obviously not the end of the road. Let us be frank: the hardest part has yet to be done. Therefore, on behalf of France, I would like to launch a two-pronged appeal.
The first is a call for the resolution to be fully and immediately implemented. We are all aware that pitfalls and obstacles abound. This is a reflection of the extent to which resolute and coordinated engagement by all members of the Security Council is crucial to ensuring that the provisions we have just adopted are implemented on the ground without delay. To put it even more clearly: if we do not put all our resources and energy behind the full implementation of this resolution, we know that it will not work. Above all, that applies to Russia and the Astana guarantors.
The second call is to use this truce as leverage to put an end to the spiral of violence in the Syrian tragedy and create positive momentum towards an inclusive political settlement in Syria. That must be our common ambition. There is a glimmer of hope today in that regard. Let us seize this fragile moment to begin to reverse the course of events, despite the magnitude of the difficulties ahead. As the Council knows, France is fully committed to that goal.