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Public meeting of the Security Council on the Middle East (Syria)

Published Monday July 14 2014

Explanation of vote by H.E. Ms. Sylvie Lucas, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg:

"Mr. President,

The unanimous adoption of resolution 2165 by the Security Council today provides a glimmer of hope in the gloomy picture of the conflict in Syria.

This conflict creates untold suffering. 100,000 deaths had been reported one year ago. This number has probably doubled since. There are now nearly 3 million refugees who have fled Syria; their number is growing daily. According to OCHA, 10.8 million people in Syria, half of whom are children, are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. 6.4 million people are internally displaced in Syria. More than 4.5 million people survive in areas which are hard to reach or impossible to reach for humanitarian actors. Among the crimes committed daily, especially by the Syrian forces, I shall mention the bombing of hospitals and schools, the deliberate attacks against health and medical personnel, the attacks on humanitarian convoys, the indiscriminate use of barrels bombs, the use of famine as a method of combat to kneel besieged populations into surrender.

To protect civilians trapped in this war, the Security Council called on the parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law. That was the whole purpose of the Presidential statement adopted by the Council on 2 October 2013. This was the whole purpose of resolution 2139 adopted by the Council four months ago, a text aimed to improve humanitarian access to affected populations. This was also the purpose of the draft resolution on the referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, blocked two months ago by a double veto.

Since the adoption of resolution 2139, the humanitarian situation in Syria has only deteriorated. In his latest report on the implementation of the resolution, the Secretary-General noted that the main obstacle to humanitarian access is the deliberate decision by the Syrian authorities to systematically prohibit the delivery of vital relief supplies. Month after month, Syrian authorities confiscated medical and surgical equipment for the most vulnerable populations living in areas controlled by the opposition to Assad’s regime. Month after month, the Syrian authorities continued to deny the passage of humanitarian convoys through the border crossings identified as priorities by the UN. As a result: month after month, the number of Syrians deprived of humanitarian assistance has only been growing.

Recognizing this, and given the blatant non-compliance with resolution 2139, the co-authors thereof, namely Australia, Jordan and Luxembourg, felt obliged to look for further measures, other ways to ensure that humanitarian aid will benefit more Syrians, regardless of whether they live in areas controlled by the Syrian authorities or opposition-held areas; to ensure that humanitarian action is not used as an instrument by the Syrian authorities for political and military purposes. This is the primary objective of this new resolution.

The provisions of resolution 2165 are clear and legally binding. Their premise is that the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria constitutes a threat to peace and security in the region. By adopting resolution 2165, the Security Council has taken decisions that leave no room for ambiguity or uncertainty. The United Nations humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners are authorized to deliver aid in Syria from neighboring countries, through four additional border crossings: two at the Turkish border, one at the Iraqi border and one at the Jordanian border. The use of these additional border crossings is expected to help between 1.4 and 2 million people who have so far been far beyond the reach of humanitarian actors.

The consent of the Syrian authorities will no longer be necessary. The monitoring mechanism under the authority of the Secretary-General, which will be set up for an initial period of six months, provides for a simple notification system.

Resolution 2165 also states that the UN and its partners are allowed to use routes across conflict lines in order to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches people in need throughout Syria through the most direct routes. The UN and its partners will henceforth be able to distribute medical and surgical supplies without any interference from Damascus. The delivery of humanitarian assistance must be immediate and unhindered, throughout Syria, on the basis of needs assessments carried out by the United Nations, not those dictated by Damascus.

Resolution 2165 is an operational and concrete text, an innovative text. We sincerely hope that it will allow for a breakthrough on the ground. If, however, resolution 2165 is not being complied with, and if resolution 2139 continues to be disregarded, the Security Council clearly affirms that it will take further measures.

Mr. President,

With today’s vote, the Security Council was able to let prevail our common humanity, our common concern for the interests and vital needs of the civilian population in Syria. We are proud to have been able to actively contribute to this result, together with our Australian and Jordanian colleagues.

The Syrian humanitarian catastrophe, however, will continue, and will continue to have a severe impact on neighboring countries, as long as a political solution to the Syrian conflict has not been found. I will therefore conclude by expressing our hope that with the renewed consensus reached in the Security Council and the appointment on July 10 of Mr. Staffan de Mistura as Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, a fresh impetus will be given to the search for that political solution.

I thank you."