Syria – Humanitarian Resolution
- Human Rights
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Statement by HE Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
Thank you Madam President.
In adopting this resolution unanimously, all members of the Security Council have recognised that the humanitarian situation in Syria is desperate.
The country has disintegrated and neighbouring countries are threatened by the effects. Almost half of Syria's population need urgent assistance. A third of the housing has been destroyed and over 60% of the hospitals destroyed or damaged. Almost a third of people are internally displaced. Three million have fled. Two and a half million are refugees. 2.3 million are now out of school and one in five schools are either occupied or destroyed. Medical workers and hospitals have been directly targeted and a majority of Syria's health workers have fled. At least a quarter of a million people scratch to survive in besieged cities and towns with no food or medical relief for over a year.
Dag Hammarskjöld famously said that the United Nations was not created to take humanity to heaven but to save it from hell. But by any measure, the Syrian people long ago descended into hell. It should not have taken the Council so long to take today's action. Indeed, as the Secretary-General has just said, it should not have been necessary.
The Council has demanded that this resolution be implemented in full. If it is, it would make a difference to the lives of millions of Syrians.
The Council's core demand is that the Syrian parties to the conflict – and above all, the Syrian authorities – reverse course now and start to put the interests of Syria's citizens first. The Syrian military must cease their systematic and indiscriminate attacks on civilians. The devastating aerial bombing campaign in Aleppo that has seen a further 500 000 people displaced must end. The use of barrel bombs – a weapon designed to create civilian terror and cause maximum injury to civilians – must cease immediately. Aid must be allowed to reach all those who need it by the most direct means possible, including across battle lines and across borders. It must be allowed to those people living under siege – and people in such areas who want to leave must be allowed to do so.
Armed opposition groups must also comply with the calls in this resolution to end abuses of human rights, abide by international humanitarian law and facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance in areas they control. This Council has said plainly that Al Qaeda and associated groups have no place in Syria and that all foreign fighters should leave the country.
We have acknowledged again that the only sustainable solution to the Syrian conflict is a political transition. The challenges are self-evident, but we must continue efforts to achieve this. And as the Council has recognised in this resolution, there must be no impunity for violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights. Australia also re-iterates its call for the Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.
The Council's unanimity today has been necessary. But it is not enough. The resolution can only benefit the Syrian people if it is implemented in full. The primary responsibility lies with the Syrian authorities. Others on the ground including opposition groups must also comply. The resolution is also binding on all of us. Council members and the wider UN membership must themselves do what they can to pressure the Syrian authorities and the opposition groups to implement it.
The resolution has made very clear the Council's expectations that its demands will be met. And that there will be consequences for non-compliance. We will remain determined in this.
Thank you Madam President.