Syria - 8708th Security Council Meeting

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29-Jan-2020 01:35:04
Amid rising violence in north-west, building trust, confidence among Syrian parties key to advancing political Process, Deputy Special Envoy tells Security Council.

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The building of trust and confidence is a key component of a successful political process to bring about peace and stability in Syria, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Envoy for the country told the Security Council today, cautioning that increasing violence in the north-west threatened to stall negotiations before they had properly begun.

“De-escalating violence, leading to a cessation of hostilities across Syria, is more critical than ever,” said Khawla Matar — who spoke on behalf of Special Envoy Geir Pedersen — pointing to the alarming scale of military operations in the north-west and its devastating humanitarian consequences for the 3 million people in the Idlib area.

She highlighted the Special Envoy’s work with the Government of Syria and other stakeholders to achieve the implementation of Council resolution 2254 (2015), noting that he is working to narrow differences among the parties and hopes to be in a position to convene the newly established Constitutional Committee soon. While the Committee is a vital component of the process, it is not the only part.

“There is a need for a broader process that builds trust and confidence step-by-step,” she said, emphasizing that such a process could deliver concrete results for the Syrian people, who might one day expect to live in a safe, calm and neutral environment. Such a process would provide assurances to refugees hoping to return and assist with the country’s reconstruction.

Noting that five foreign armies currently operate in Syria, and terrorist groups such as Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, among others, are a major force in Idlib, she said that countering groups designated as terrorist organizations by the Security Council is imperative. In addition, the work of the Working Group on the Release of Detainees/Abductees, Handover of Bodies and Identification of Missing Persons, set to convene in February, is of “enormous significance” to many Syrians.

Council members taking the floor after the briefing pointed to serious impediments to the political process, with the representative of the United States deriding the adoption of “ceasefires in name only” that are instantly broken by fresh violence. Rather than aiding the process, the Governments of Syria and the Russian Federation are actively impeding it, while denying humanitarian aid to civilians. Escalating violence in the north-west of the country is unacceptable, she said, stressing: “The Council must be united in telling them that we will not abide by their pursuit of a military solution.”

In a similar vein, Germany’s delegate highlighted the Government of Syria’s delaying tactics regarding the work of the Constitutional Committee. Meanwhile, Syria’s military offensive continues, joined by Russian Federation forces in the north-west of the country. Since the beginning of the conflict in Idlib, some 1,500 civilians have died, including 290 children, he said.

Several delegations took the opportunity to mention the new proposed peace plan for the Middle East, which was unveiled by the Government of the United States on Tuesday. The representative of the Russian Federation noted that the plan’s maps contain a serious mistake in including the Golan Heights as part of Israel.

Echoing those words, Indonesia’s delegate said that his country rejected the recognition of the Occupied Syrian Golan as part of Israel. The top priority for the political process should always be the interests and aspirations of the Syrian people themselves.

The representative of Syria also referred to the plan proposed by the United States, calling it a “pathetic attempt” to introduce a proposal of settlement activity. Not only that, but it failed to respect various Council resolutions regarding occupied Syrian territory, as well as its calls to return to pre-1967 borders. Such a plan was an assault on the United Nations itself, he said.

He also spotlighted the fact that, following the Council’s morning deliberations on the humanitarian situation in his country, his Government had informed the World Health Organization (WHO) that it would grant access to a medical assistance convoy that was waiting at the Iraq-Syria border. The Government of Syria will work with the WHO and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to distribute the aid to hospitals, pharmacies and citizens in need, he said. On the political process, he said that it was vital that it respect Syria’s sovereignty and be Syrian-owned.

Also speaking today were representatives of Estonia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominican Republic, China, South Africa, France, Belgium, Niger, United Kingdom, Tunisia and Viet Nam.

The meeting began at 3:03 p.m. and ended at 4:39 p.m.

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