The international community cannot remain silent [fr]
Syrie/Humanitarian issues - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 26 October 2016
As the representative of a country so profoundly attached to the United Nations and its values, I would like to clarify several points.
First, I thank Mr. Stephen O’Brien for his briefing, his courage and the work that he and his team have carried out. When the credibility of a major Office of the United Nations is called into question in such a way, it must be defended. And that is what I would like to do publicly today in defending the work of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and paying tribute to the work of all the humanitarian personnel who put their lives on the line every day and night to save others. I think that that deserves the support of the community of nations.
We are all aware that the so-called humanitarian pauses, which are decided upon unilaterally without prior consultation whatsoever, are not a solution. They are welcome, of course, but they are not a panacea. We all know that it is impossible to obtain access authorization in just a few hours to allow for the entry of humanitarian workers and the evacuation of the wounded and their families. Blaming the United Nations for such objective factors is akin to firing at an ambulance, both figuratively and literally, because we know that hospitals and health-care personnel are often the targets of deliberate air strikes. The key to it all is to put an end to the hostilities and, in particular, to the bombing. That is the basis on which we can build. It is therefore urgent to exert maximum political pressure on the regime and its supporters. That was the goal of the recent General Assembly meeting following the veto by Russia of the draft resolution by put forward by France and Spain.
That pressure must be increased until the tragedy taking place in Aleppo has been brought to an end. We cannot give up on that. I have said it and I will reiterate that Aleppo is to Syria what Sarajevo was to Bosnia and Guernica was to Spain. That means that the situation must be viewed as a large-scale humanitarian tragedy — a black hole that swallows up and destroys all of the values that the United Nations holds dear and a promise that a horrendous tragedy will occur if we fail to act now.
I would also like to make a few brief comments on the issue of terrorism. I have made these comments before in this forum. Not only does Aleppo not help to combat terrorism — an issue which should, in fact, unite the entire international community — but Aleppo also systematically helps to spur radicalization and, by extension, terrorism. I will echo the words of my Minister for Foreign Affairs, who stated in this Chamber (see S/PV.7785) that the battle of Aleppo is a gift to terrorists and those who become the victims of terrorist attacks, like France, pay the price. As far as I and my country are concerned, this is an issue that affects our national security.
My second comment concerns humanitarian aid. I would simply like to point out that we all know — and here too let us call a spade a spade so that we can make some headway — that the Syrian regime and its supporters are responsible for blocking the humanitarian aid. I have already stated that here. It is particularly unfair and completely out of place to blame the United Nations when humanitarian workers are on the front lines attempting to save lives.
Lastly, the international community cannot remain silent on the abuses that are committed daily in Syria. If we and the rest of the world believe in the work of the United Nations and the values that unite us as an Organization, something must be done. If not, we will to bear the collective and individual responsibility for it for a long time to come. In that regard, the High Commissioner for Human Rights did not mince words when he spoke about crimes that have never before been committed, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. He stated that light must be shed on serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Impunity and weakness cannot be an option when we are dealing with a tragedy like that taking place in Aleppo. In that regard, France welcomes the adoption by the Human Rights Council on 21 October of a resolution (A/HRC/RES/S-25/1) demanding that the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic to conduct a special independent investigation on events in Aleppo and identify the alleged perpetrators of human rights abuses.
In the same vein, we will pay particular attention to the findings of the internal board of inquiry a, established by the Secretary-General after the bombing of a United Nations-Syria Red Cross aid convoy on 19 September in the north-west of Aleppo, which, I recall, caused the deaths of more than 20 people. To make a long story short, the onus is on the parties to a conflict to protect civilians and ensure humanitarian access and medical care. The protection of humanitarian workers in particular — as provided for by resolution 2286 (2016), on health-care personnel and infrastructure — is vital. We must make a strong appeal for the immediate cessation of attacks on such personnel and infrastructure.
Once again, France calls on the Syrian regime and Russia to put an end to air strikes on Aleppo, and not only for a few hours, and on that basis, along with the rest of us, to commit to building the political transition needed in order to find a genuine political solution to the crisis in Syria. As long as that has not occurred and the tragedy unfolding in Aleppo continues, political pressure must continue and will increase. Like many others, I would like to issue another appeal, which we hope will become louder and be heard and responded to in a tangible manner.