Syria: the humanitarian situation is disastrous and international law is being trampled underfoot. [fr]
SYRIA – POLITICAL AND HUMANITARIAN ISSUES
STATEMENT BY MR. NICOLAS DE RIVIERE
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF FRANCE TO THE UNITED NATIONS
AT THE SECURITY COUNCIL
New York, 27 October 2020
I would like to thank Mr. Lowcock and Mr. Pedersen for their interventions. It has to be said that they do not bring us any good news.
Despite the efforts of the Special Envoy, the political process is completely deadlocked.
One year after its creation, the Constitutional Committee’s record is almost nil. The masks are coming off and we should not delude ourselves: this process has become an end in itself allowing the regime and its supporters to gain time. This is regrettable, but it is so, despite the commitment and patience of Geir Pedersen. The regime’s refusal to engage in good faith in the negotiations has gone on too long. It is more urgent than ever that the parties finally start substantive discussions on the constitution.
I therefore encourage Mr. Pedersen to work on all elements of Resolution 2254, in response to the call of the Small Group Ministers on 22 October.
A neutral and secure environment must be put in place as a matter of priority. This requires progress on the detainee issue but also a nationwide cessation of hostilities in accordance with resolutions 2532 and 2254. France condemns the resumption of bombing in the south and west of Idlib and calls on the regime and its allies not to resume a new offensive. We are also very concerned by the resurgence of Daech in Syria, where action by the international coalition remains more necessary than ever.
At the same time, work must be done to prepare free and fair elections, under the supervision of the United Nations, so that all Syrians can participate, including IDPs, refugees and those from the diaspora. France will not recognise the results of elections that do not comply with these provisions set out in Resolution 2254. We will not be fooled by the regime’s attempts to legitimise itself.
As for the humanitarian situation, it remains disastrous. And international law is being trampled underfoot. The protection of civilians, including humanitarian and medical personnel, must be an absolute priority. And we strongly condemn the indiscriminate attacks emanating from the regime and its allies, which have targeted the population as well as civilian infrastructures.
The number of civilian casualties continues to rise. These serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law will not go unpunished. France will ensure that they do not go unpunished.
It is essential to guarantee full humanitarian access, particularly to the province of Idlib and southern Syria, but also to the North-East where there are alarming obstacles to the delivery of medical aid. We deplore the progressive reduction of crossing points for the delivery of aid. This is all the more serious in the context of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, worsening food insecurity and as the Syrian population prepares to face the harshness of a new winter of war.
In the absence of any significant progress on the political front, France and its partners will not deviate from their line on sanctions, reconstruction and the return of refugees.
In this regard, we welcome the adoption of sanctions by the European Union against seven new ministers of the Syrian government. These sanctions specifically target individuals who are guilty of Human Rights violations or who take advantage of their links with the regime and the war economy. The instrumentalization of the sanctions issue to mask the responsibility of the Syrian regime in this tragedy does not deceive anyone.
The Small Group Ministers also pledged on 22 October not to finance the return of refugees if it does not take place in accordance with the standards set by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The conditions for the safe, dignified and voluntary return of Syrian refugees are not yet in place. Only a credible political process will allow returns. The United Nations will have to monitor those returns. No conference can achieve this. We will oppose any attempt to politicise the subject of refugee return to the detriment of the refugees’ interests.