29 November 2016 - We are facing a moment of truth in Aleppo
Syria / Chemical weapons - Remarks to the press by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - 29 November 2016
Four messages on Syria:
First of all, as you have seen, French Foreign Minister Ayrault has asked for an emergency meeting of the Security Council as soon as possible given the humanitarian disaster in Aleppo. So, that’s my first message. We are working with the Senegalese presidency to find a time for this meeting, with a briefing from the UN stakeholders. We hope we will be able to schedule it by tomorrow.
Indeed, we are facing a moment of truth in Aleppo. Stephen O’Brien mentioned the figure of 16,000 civilians escaping Eastern Aleppo since Sunday. The regime and their supports have decided to accelerate their barbaric military strategy against their own population to retake Eastern Aleppo. Whatever the cost in terms of human lives. In these tragic circumstances, France and its partners cannot remain silent in the face of what could be one of the biggest massacres of civilian populations since World War II. We also need to find a way to get the humanitarian aid to the Syrian population.
Second message, we will propose with the UK a draft resolution sanctioning those responsible for the use of chemical weapons, building on both the conclusions of the JIM and the renewal of its mandate on which we unanimously agreed a few days ago. The Security Council needs to take its responsibility on this. This is crucial. What is at stake here it’s about Syria, but it’s also about the nonproliferation regime; and it’s about the credibility of the Council. As I already said, if the Security Council is not able to react strongly and unanimously when not only the proliferation but the use of weapons of mass destruction is at stake against civilian populations, then frankly there is a big question mark about the credibility of the UN, let’s face it. So we will propose that together with the UK.
Third, France will host a ministerial meeting of the like-minded group on Syria in the coming days in Paris. It will also be an important opportunity to examine the situation in Aleppo and Syria as a whole.
Fourth, we support of course the draft resolution by Egypt, New Zealand and Spain. We think it is also important. We fully support them and we have been supporting them from day one.
May I also add one word. We will have in a few minutes the memorial ceremony in honor of Ambassador Joseph Reed at the ECOSOC room. Joseph Reed, for those of you who have known him, is a great figure. His support to the UN all his life-long is truly second-to-none. He is a very skilled, distinguished diplomat and is also a great friend of my country, a great friend of France. So Ambassador Reed, for all those who believe in the UN, is a source of inspiration and admiration. I want to pay tribute to him and I wanted to say that publicly.
Q: Ambassador, when will you circulate the accountability resolution on chemical weapons?
The sooner the better.
Q: Today? Is it ready?
Basically, it’s ready. So the sooner the better. No time to lose.
Q: How many individuals and entities are you looking at sanctioning in this resolution?
The JIM conclusions were pretty clear about this. So with respect to both the regime and Daesh/ISIS we are in a known territory here. What we do is not coming out of the blue, it’s coming from the previous resolution. And we have to go ahead. Let’s not forget that it is not only about Syria, it’s not only about the implementation of that resolution, it’s about the fight against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and again this is one of the backbones of international peace and security. It is at the heart of the Security Council’s role. So together with the British we want to go forward on this, and to answer your question: the sooner the better. We are ready.
Q: Ambassador Power shared a list of 14 names two weeks ago on the Council, of military leaders in Syria. Do you have the same names, do you have a similar list of names?
We have the same pull of information and we appreciate what Ambassador Power said at that time.
Q: Is this related to accountability on chemical weapons or something else?
Ask her. I think here purpose was broader than that. But again we share her approach.
Q: What about the Burundi protests against the UN? Do you intend to do anything on Burundi, there were major protests against the UN. They said that the UN is trafficking weapons in the country, pretty much ignored the call...
We remain completely mobilized on Burundi. This was one of the topics of discussion when Antonio Guterres and then Ban Ki-moon went to Paris a few days ago. Thank you for mentioning it, this remains for us a key priority. And as we speak we work on the implementation of resolution 2303.