Syria : France proposes new monitoring mechanism [fr]
Situation in Syria - Statement by Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International developpement - Security Council - 22 September 2016
While Syria has been mired in tragedy for five years, and while each passing day propels the country further into chaos and its people into horror, it is more urgent than ever to work together to seek to end the conflict. That is our collective responsibility. The peoples of the world are watching. They will judge us severely if we fail to uphold the mission that the Charter of United Nations entrusts to the Security Council.
An agreement was signed last week by the United States and Russia. France welcomed it as a response to an emergency — that of saving human lives. For five years, civilians have borne the heaviest toll of this appalling war. Aleppo, a martyr city, symbolizes the horror of this war. The fighting must stop, humanitarian assistance must be delivered, and a momentum for peace must be launched with a view to reaching a political solution that includes reconstruction and the return of refugees who have fled by the millions.
All of us around this table know how difficult that is, as recent developments have unfortunately demonstrated. Yet again, the logic of violence has prevailed; yet again, the truce has collapsed; yet again, the Syrian regime has stubbornly pursued its headlong military strategy, although the military solution is doomed. We are forced to wonder whether the unspoken goal may be, after all, the fall of Aleppo and the de facto partition and effective control of Syria.
This vicious cycle has lasted long enough. It has lasted too long. In this conflict, where there are more unknowns than knowns, one thing is certain — after five years of a war that has claimed more than 300,000 dead and displaced millions, it is obvious that nobody can win by force. There will be no winner, other than the terrorist organizations that will continue to benefit from the widespread chaos that will prevail. If there is one certainty about this conflict, it is that its outcome can only be political. In the face of the Syrian tragedy and the risk of failure, the time for second thoughts, short-sighted calculations, tactical considerations and double-talk is over, inside the Security Council and out. We must first ensure the sustainability of the cessation of hostilities. In that regard, the Russian-American agreement is for now, I repeat, the only proposal on the table. But we must be clear-sighted; the numerous violations on the ground are in their overwhelming majority the acts of the regime and its allies. The heinous bombing of a humanitarian convoy in Aleppo, which has been mentioned several times this morning, has outraged international public opinion. It is a sorry illustration of the spiral of violence. The constant bombings of medical facilities and personnel are yet another aspect. The full truth behind these tragedies and their sponsors must be revealed, as the Secretary-General noted earlier. Our common moral duty is to join forces to ensure respect for the cessation of hostilities. Our collective commitment must be to ensure the effective, just and lasting implementation of the truce.
I emphasize that effectiveness is critical if Syrians are to feel the concrete impact of the cessation of hostilities. Humanitarian assistance must therefore be delivered. It can longer be subject to the regime’s haggling. All bombing of civilians and moderate opposition groups must stop. Strict monitoring is vital. Experience teaches us that the regime exploits truces, applied locally, to focus its military efforts on other fronts. Why, then, do we not require the regime to canton all its soldiers, since the effectiveness of the truce depends on that? I propose, on behalf of France, that the Security Council work practically to that end.
The second requirement is that of justice, which demands that no crime be ignored, even in exchange for a truce. It has been proved that the regime has used chemical weapons, as has Da’esh. The perpetrators of those crimes must be punished. There will be no lasting peace in Syria if there is impunity. It therefore up to the Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, to condemn those attacks and punish the perpetrators. It is a moral duty, but also an obligation of the international community, which has wanted to eliminate chemical weapons forever.
And the third necessity is that of sustainability. The ceasefire agreement must be sustainable, for it is essential for creating the conditions for a future peace. A new governance arrangement must open up political prospects and create a collective space. Certainly, one cannot generate new hope around a figure who divides Syrians and sows mostly death and destruction. Resolution 2254 (2015), which Mr. De Mistura evoked again a while ago, provides a road map for a political transition and a devolution of power.
The United States and Russia of course have special responsibility for the implementation of the agreement they negotiated: they co-chair the International Syria Support Group. But as I said at the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting, as well as to Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry, and as I have said here before members, France is convinced that only collective mobilization will make it possible to achieve the goals that I just mentioned. Everyone must take up their responsibilities. It is true that this approach has its value, but it also has its limitations. France is therefore ready to take on its responsibility as part of the new credible and effective monitoring mechanism we are proposing. Such a mechanism must make possible a shared assessment of violations of the truce and the obstacles to humanitarian access, as well as to determine consequences. We must leave behind the approach of mutual accusations, which precipitated the failure of previous agreements and was not conducive to an atmosphere of confidence. There is too much mistrust — a feeling I also noted at the ISSG meeting. We must therefore create propitious conditions to move forward. I therefore make this proposal for a new monitoring mechanism. I have circulated here among all Council and ISSG members the non-paper we prepared for discussion.
Once an effective truce is in place and humanitarian access is assured, which is the priority, negotiations for a genuine political transition can, and must, resume. We know what the parameters are, namely, the 2012 Geneva communiqué (S/2012/522, annex) and resolution 2254 (2015), which was mentioned frequently by previous speakers. The High Negotiations Committee has presented proposals and is ready to play a constructive role for a Syria that is open, democratic and respectful of its diversity. What have we seen from the regime if not propaganda and delaying tactics? But proposals for a negotiation? None to date. The burden of evidence is therefore with them and its allies.
Finally, what is at stake in Syria is also a major battle against terrorism. That fight has not ended, nor must it. It must continue, both against Da’esh and all other groups in Syria that espouse the same ideology and violence, including, again Da’esh, as well as Al-Qaida and the Al-Nusra Front. France again reiterates that that must include all non-jihadist armed groups, which should distance themselves from those terrorist organizations — and fast.
France is playing its part in this common fight of the international community against terrorism alongside the coalition. We are acting militarily against Da’esh and are prepared to do the same against any terrorist group, which we must prevent from taking advantage of the truce to strengthen themselves and prosper. But nothing will be more useful in the fight against Da’esh than our collective mobilization to ensure that at long last Syria once again finds its way towards peace and stability. If we yield to impotence, fatalism and resigning ourselves, I think we will bear a heavy responsibility. The press are already saying that it is all over, definitively stating that we have failed and that there is not even a slight chance for a ceasefire to take. It is up to us here to demonstrate that that is not true and that there is still hope. We must show that we do not want to be complicit in the fall of Aleppo — which I again say is a martyred city — or in the martyrdom of the Syrian people. France will not resign itself to that. And I have heard statements here this morning that inspire me to hold out that hope.
What we need is a burst of will, a burst of responsibility and a burst of unity to end a conflict that has lasted far too long. That is the appeal I make before the Council today in the name of France.