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Intervention by the co-penholders for the Syria humanitarian file– Germany, Belgium and Kuwait – after the vote on the resolution on the situation in Idlib

19.09.2019 - Speech

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I am taking the floor, once again, on behalf of the Syria humanitarian co-penholders: Kuwait, Belgium and Germany.

As caretakers of the humanitarian situation in Idlib, we are deeply disappointed about the result of this vote.

Once again, this Council will not be able not fulfill its duty to protect the lives of three million people, mainly women and children in Idlib Governorate. How can we explain to them, and the world, that even on a purely humanitarian resolution, no consensus could be reached?

We, the penholders, tried to reach consensus between the members of this Council. As an honest broker, we tried to reach out, and to engage in a transparent and constructive manner. We were aiming for a focused text, built around clear humanitarian objectives: A clear cessation of hostilities, protection of civilians and an alleviation of human suffering. We received plenty of support for our initiative and we thank everyone who has supported our efforts, especially those Council members who have voted in favor of this draft resolution.

Other members did not support. We regret this. Divisions are visible and remain. We tried hard during the last days to bridge gaps. These gaps revolved around the issue of counter terrorism. While we all stand firm in our resolve to combat terrorism, we once again reiterate our position that counter terrorism operations do not absolve parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law. This is what we tried to reflect in our resolution that was put forward. Unfortunately, this was not acceptable to some.

On the other hand, we saw another initiative put forward only yesterday, without any transparent process. It was neither shared nor negotiated beforehand. We have seen this tactic in the past and regret it. This can never lead to the unity in the council that is so direly needed. In terms of content, it does not focus on the protection of civilians, it does not focus on human suffering and it does not prevent a humanitarian catastrophe : core issues this Council has to address.

ASG Ursula Müller, in her briefing this morning clearly pointed out, what all this is about. She gave us numbers and examples trying to measure a humanitarian disaster. And we will promise today that we will not stop here. This resolution was not adopted, but our work and our responsibility do not end here. We will continue to use the instruments of this Council to address the most urgent humanitarian issues, in Idlib and other places in Syria.

Dear colleagues,

Let us join our efforts as we look ahead to the renewal of the cross-border mechanism towards the end of this year. This is a mechanism that is crucial for the survival of millions of Syrians. Our unity on this upcoming issue is the least that we can do for the Syrian people who have suffered greatly for the past 8 years.

Finally, Mr. President, there is no military solution to the crisis in Syria. The only solution is a political one based on Security Council resolution 2254, and the Geneva communique of 2012. We reiterate our strong support for the efforts of the Special Envoy Geir Pedersen.

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