4 February 2012 – Security Council – Syria – Explanation of vote by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
I am deeply saddened and concerned to learn that a double veto has just blocked the draft resolution on Syria, supported by all other members of the Council. This is a sad day for this Council; it’s a sad day for the Syrian people; it’s a sad day for all friends of democracy.
And beyond the thousands of people who have been killed, injured, tortured and imprisoned since the start of the crackdown nearly a year ago, history has compounded our shame since today is the anniversary of the Hama massacre and the day after another despicable massacre in Homs. The father killed on a massive scale, the son is doing the same. The horror in Damascus is hereditary.
We’ve been discussing Syria for 10 months now already, and this Council has only been able to adopt a mere Presidential Statement on 3 August, 2011, as a result of Russia and China’s veto in October of a text that had already been watered down.
What has happened in a period of more than ten months?
More than 6,000 Syrians have fallen victim to the crackdown. And what do we really know about it? Ten days ago, Ms. Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that, at that time, she wasn’t able anymore to determine the number of victims of the crackdown.
The UN Secretary-General has continuously urged the Council to act in order to put an end to the crimes against humanity being committed in Syria and this Council has remained silent.
The Human Rights Council has pointed out, three times, the overwhelming responsibility of the Syrian regime, and this Council has remained silent.
133 States, within the forum of the General Assembly, have formally condemned these criminal acts and urged for an immediate end to them, and this Council has remained silent.
In this same chamber, just 3 days ago, the Arab League urged our Council to support its action, as it is confronted by the Syrian regime’s unwillingness to listen. And in the face of the risks to which the entire region is exposed as a result of this unwillingness to listen. The Secretary-General of the Arab League and the Prime Minister of Qatar argued, right here, in favor of a solution that is the only credible way to achieve a peaceful resolution of the Syrian crisis. A resolution, presented by Morocco, which enjoyed wide support both within and outside the Council, and was widely deemed to be based on a consensus, proposed lending the Council’s support to the regional efforts. No more and no less. And this Council will remain silent.
We cannot, we must not, avoid this damning conclusion: two permanent members of the Security Council are systematically obstructing any Security Council action. They are doing so with full knowledge of the tragic consequences their decisions will have for the Syrian people, and in doing so they become accomplices of the Damascus regime’s policy of repression. Whatever they say, they have in effect taken the Assad regime’s side against the Syrian people.
I’m well aware of the arguments that will be made by those who are now opposing the Council’s action. I can already hear them proclaiming that a few more days would have been enough for us to come to an agreement. A few days, while hundreds of Syrians are dying every day? We couldn’t wait any longer especially since this draft resolution represents the broadest possible consensus of the international community, while aiming to support the efforts of the international actors to find a political solution to the crisis.
For ten months, we’ve been accused of trying to overthrow a regime, of preparing for a military intervention. This is of course not true.
We’ve responded to these concerns at length. Three days ago, right here, our ministers stated that there was no question of imposing a political regime on Syria. The draft resolution was, with respect to this point and with respect to a military intervention, abundantly clear. How much time have we wasted during these debates? This kind of dithering falls short of addressing the tragedy befalling the Syrian people.
History will have no mercy for the countries that have prevented the Security Council from lending support to the Arab League’s efforts to implement its plan. By doing so, they shamelessly aligned themselves with a regime that is massacring its people. By doing so, they decided that their presence in the Middle East was now dependent on the future of Assad’s regime. This presence and this regime will suffer the same fate.
As I said, today is a sad day. But our efforts won’t stop. We don’t have the right to abandon the Syrian people to their tragic fate. I want to say to the Syrian people that France will continue to work in all forums, with all partners that share its values and the goal that should unite us: putting an end to the Syrian nightmare. We will continue to work with the Arab League whose plan remains on the table even if it hasn’t been endorsed by this Council. We will continue to support the peaceful Syrian opposition movement which is trying to rally around the Syrian National Council. We will continue to increase the pressure by imposing new EU sanctions.
My final point will be addressed to the Syrian people who, with extraordinary courage, have not lost sight of the prospect of their freedom. From this Council, I would like to express France’s wholehearted support and our determination to tirelessly continue our action. We have endured our first double veto and we have come back to the Council. We’re now enduring our second veto but, in the name of the principles that guide this Council and the action of the United Nations, it won’t stop us. In the name of our responsibility as a permanent member.