12 April 2017 - Syria : the priority is the resumption of the negotiations [fr]
Syria - Statement by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 12 April 2017
A week ago, the regime perpetrated another chemical-weapons attack. At least 86 people died from asphyxiation near Idlib; hundreds were injured. The symptoms observed, as well as the dramatic number of deaths, are indicative of the use of a neurotoxic agent, probably a mixture based on sarin. The decision of the United States to strike the Al-Shayrat air base was a response to the gravity of the act and the threat. It sent the Syrian regime a message it should have heard long ago — its time of impunity has now passed.
Together with the United States and the United Kingdom, France has proposed a draft resolution which will be put to a vote in the Security Council shortly. Its simple and balanced text condemns the 4 April attack and reaffirms United Nations support for the investigation of the Fact-finding Mission in the Syrian Arab Republic into the circumstances of this attack and the nature of the substance used. It is a matter of bringing the Council together around a fundamental objective: the protection of the international non-proliferation regime, which has been flouted in Syria, and the fight against the impunity of the perpetrators of chemical attacks.
Beyond the tragedy of Khan Shaykhun, all of Syria offers a landscape of devastation and desolation today. The cessation of hostilities, as guaranteed by the 30 December agreement and the Astana process, no longer exists. The regime’s supporters never acted seriously to respect it. The humanitarian situation is deteriorating day by day. Throughout the country, the regime is tightening its grip around civilian populations by refusing to grant the authorizations needed to carry out the monthly plan of humanitarian convoys. Let us not deceive ourselves. We are seeing here a deliberate policy of obstruction and siege designed to compel opponents to surrender and people to flee, in violation of Security Council resolutions and the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law.
The Syrian regime’s allies are responsible for applying all appropriate pressure to force the regime to finally live up to its obligations. In particular, Russia, as the guarantor of the regime of cessation of hostilities announced last December, needs to turn its commitments into action. The immediate urgency must be to force the Syrian regime to finally respect the cessation of hostilities and finally provide access to the necessary humanitarian assistance to all those in need. Furthermore, the cessation-of-hostilities system needs to be completely revised. We have to avoid the flaws of the previous versions and put in place a more inclusive, coherent, and robust monitoring mechanism. Since last September, France has called for the establishment of such a mechanism for monitoring the cessation of hostilities.
Some deny the evidence, but no matter what happens, we can no longer act as if the 4 April attack had not taken place. We can no longer act as if this track record of desolation and chaos is not primarily the track record of the Bashar Al-Assad regime. The attack on Khan Shaykhun is just a reminder of a sinister reality about which France, since August 2013, has never ceased to alert the members of the Security Council. We must come to an understanding today about the obvious: a political solution leading to a real transition is now more urgent and necessary than ever. As long as the regime keeps itself in power through terror and destruction, with the complicity of its supporters, there will never be peace and reconstruction in Syria. The millions of refugees forced onto roads of exile will have no hope of returning to their homes nor will they ever overcome a terrorist threat that will continue to feed on the violence and desolation that gave rise to it and made it prosper in the first place.
The absolute urgency, the priority of the priorities, is therefore the resumption of the negotiations to craft — together — a political solution.It is therefore incumbent on all of us to exert the necessary pressure on the leading stakeholders so that they can engage in good faith negotiations without delay. In that connection, France renews its fullest support and confidence in Special Envoy De Mistura, whose commitment is exemplary. We commend his announcement of resolutionesumed negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations in mid-May. France supports the start of the next cycle of negotiations on an accelerated timeline with a view to reaching a speedy agreement on a political transition based on the Geneva communiqué and resolution 2254. We must all rise above our political choices, national interests and moral considerations, and shoulder our responsibilities in order to support this solution. That is an imperative that concerns our collective security. It is at the heart of our mandate and a responsibility shared by all members of the Security Council.
In conclusion, recent developments have realigned the situation and highlighted the urgency of the need for a political transition in Syria. We hope that the recent developments have created the conditions for re-engagement of the leading stakeholders with a view to a political solution.
Given the tragedy in Syria, which continues to spiral downwards into the deepest of abysses, we are more bound to our duty than ever. We are also faced with the opportunity of injecting new, decisive life into a political solution. Let us make sure that we seize the opportunity. This is a time of truth. Let us make sure that we shoulder our responsibilities at this historical moment.