Remarks by Ambassadors of Australia, Jordan & Luxembourg at the UN Security Council Stakeout
- Human Rights
Remarks by the Australian Ambassador to the UN, Gary Quinlan, the Jordanian Ambassador to the UN, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein, and the Luxembourg Ambassador to the UN, Sylvie Lucas, at the UN Security Council Stakeout
AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: Good afternoon everybody. We three co-authors will just make some brief comments each, and then take one or two questions. There are a number of colleagues who would also like to speak, and I'm sure they will be available afterwards separately to make some additional comments
As we know, and as has been pointed out in the room this morning – in the Council – the Syrian crisis is the biggest and the most devastating humanitarian crisis we're currently facing in the world. And this resolution in response, the first resolution on humanitarian issues here, is about specific action to allow access and assistance across battle lines, across borders, to people starving under siege, to protect hospitals, medical workers, schools. And to stop the indiscriminate, deliberate targeting of civilians
Now, the Council has been united on this. And I'll emphasise that again – we have been united.We've been united because the situation in Syria has continued to deteriorate so badly and so quickly. And because a resolution – if implemented – can actually make a difference on the ground
We presented what we thought – and believe – was a strong and reasonable text, and our unwavering objective was that we wanted a text which would deliver change on the ground, improvement on the ground
Of course, as I've said, this will only happen if the resolution is fully implemented. The primary responsibility for that lies with the Syrian authorities. But also, of course, with armed groups and the opposition within Syria, and indeed with the rest of the international community which must use all the influence we have on the parties in Syria to ensure that this is implemented
Now the resolution makes very clear the Council's expectations that the resolution will be implemented and there will be consequences if it is not, in fact, complied with.
We know this is not a magic solution for the Syrian crisis as a whole. But it is we hope, if implemented, a significantly big step in terms of the humanitarian crisis
I will leave it now and ask my other colleagues to speak – I think my Jordanian colleague, Prince Zeid, will speak now.
PRINCE ZEID: Thank you. I will say a few words in Arabic and then one or two things in English
(speaks in Arabic)
I just want to say in English that this resolution just adopted is a binding resolution and article 25 of the UN Charter is very clear on this. It says the Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter. And it is high time we put an end – as was said about another conflict many years ago – put an end to the continuing public execution of a people, and in this regard, the Syrian people.
We hope that with the beginning of this resolution, the crisis will begin to come to an end and end with a political settlement that is agreed to by all. Thank you.
AMBASSADOR LUCAS: Thank you very much. I will briefly add just a few words. And like my Australian colleague very much pointed out, this resolution is about improving the appalling humanitarian situation on the ground. It is – it sets out a series of practical, specific measures needed to ensure aid reaches all those in need, wherever they are in Syria, without delay or distinction
Let me briefly point out some of the demands of the Security Council: rapid, safe and unhindered access for the delivery of humanitarian and medical assistance including across borders and conflict lines and into besieged areas; the implementation of humanitarian pauses, days of tranquillity, localised ceasefires and truces to allow humanitarian agencies safe and unhindered access to all affected areas in Syria; the lifting of all sieges – starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited by international humanitarian law and this resolution clearly recalls it; respect for the principle of medical neutrality; free passage to all areas for medical personnel, equipment, transport and supplies, including surgical items; demilitarisation of medical facilities, schools and other civilian facilities; putting an end to the indiscriminate deployment of weapons in populated areas – the aerial bombardments, the use of barrel bombs which has caused significant deaths, destruction and displacement and which has only one purpose: to terrorise the civilian population
The implementation of the resolution and the practical demands it contains including the full implementation of the provisions of the Presidential Statement of 2 October will be closely monitored by the Council. We will see the first report of the Secretary-General in 30 days. And then every 30 days thereafter
This also means that individuals, entities who are obstructing the implementation of this resolution are able to be held accountable. It also means that in case of non-compliance, and my colleagues already have strengthened this point, with the resolution, in case of non-compliance, there will be a trigger for further Council action
As the Secretary-General said exactly a month ago in Montreux – it is time to put the Syrian people first. This resolution is about putting the Syrians first: 9.3 million Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance,6.5 million internally displaced Syrians, 2.4 million refugees and over 240 000 Syrians – women, children, elderly and sick – which are trapped in besieged areas.
JOURNALIST: Thank you. My question is – this resolution was really weakened through the negotiation process. Are you now satisfied that this resolution is going to meet your expectations?
And I have a question for His Highness. At some point you said that your country is under the existential threat because of the humanitarian situation in Syria. Is it not under this situation anymore because of this resolution? Thank you.
AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: Look, our objective all the way was to have a strong resolution with very practical, serious steps. And we've just outlined what those strong actions are: lift sieges, stop starvation, stop bombing civilians through deliberate targeting strategies to cause civilian terror, demilitarised medical facilities, likewise demilitarised schools, have cross-border access to provide humanitarian assistance. That one action, cross-border access, it has been estimated would provide additional assistance urgently to well over one million additional Syrians who are in desperate need.
Now all of those actions are strong. They're in the resolution. It's the objective we set ourselves when we drafted it. We have retained those actions. We've achieved it. All members of the Council have agreed to that.
Of course, it has to be implemented – that's the test. And of course we then have to assess whether there's been compliance. But as has just been articulated, explained again, there are strong provisions to take further steps in the event of non-compliance.
So, let's implement it. The actions to be implemented are strong. Then let's assess where we are. We have a commitment for further steps and it's quick. First report within 30 days then every 30 days after that.
PRINCE ZEID: Thank you for your question. Like I said in Arabic, I think, while I can't speak for all the neighbouring states, I can say that for us we cannot continue to tolerate the present situation as it stands. And we hope that this humanitarian resolution adopted by the Security Council by consensus on this humanitarian fire will help in the process of finding an end to the crisis in Syria which will culminate in a political settlement, of course. And we're all supportive of that.
But we feel the threat to us, as I am sure all the neighbouring states do very keenly, as a result of the continuation of the crisis in Syria. Thank you.
JOURNALIST: The accountability language that was in an earlier draft fell out. Do you have any regrets about that? And do you have any thoughts on how war criminals will be held accountable?
AMBASSADOR LUCAS: I think we would like to stress, obviously here we are three States Parties to the International Criminal Court and obviously our first wish would have been, if we could have kept also in this resolution a reference to the International Criminal Court.
But I think I would like to point to the fact that really if you look at the resolution there is very strong language on the need to end impunity, the need to hold accountable those who are committing violations of international humanitarian law, violations and abuses of human rights. This is clearly stated in the resolution. We also have in the resolution the description and the clear condemnation of these violations. We have a recognition that there are war crimes and crimes against humanity which are perpetrated in Syria. And I think this is an important, a very important step in this respect.
Again, we are currently 11 States Parties of the ICC at the Council. But it's 11 out of 15 and in this respect, yes, you know, sometimes you have to make…you cannot always have something which not everybody is part of. But I think it is very strong language which is in the resolution in this respect.
PRINCE ZEID: Thank you very much.