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22 May 2014 - Syria / ICC - Remarks to the press by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(in French and in English)

Bonjour à tous,

C’est indéniable, aujourd’hui, le vote du Conseil de sécurité est un jour triste pour les populations syriennes.

Le projet de résolution que la France avait soumis au vote des membres du Conseil était très simple. Il répondait à une obligation morale. C’était une manière de dire à tous qu’un jour quelqu’un paiera les crimes qui sont commis en Syrie, qu’ils soient commis sur l’ensemble du territoire par le gouvernement ou par l’opposition.

Nous savons qu’il y a des crimes de guerre et de manière incompréhensible, en tout cas il n’y a pas eu d’explications, la Russie et la Chine lui ont opposé un veto.

Mais la réalité c’est qu’il y a eu 13 voix pour et 65 co-parrainages. Je crois que c’était ça qui était important. Il y a des moments où nous devons dire le droit, il y a des moments où nous devons dire la morale.

***

Today was a sad day.

The text drafted by France was a very simple text. It was saying that whatever crimes are committed by whichever side, sooner or later there will be a justice. The text was nonpartisan; it was covering all the territory of Syria and also both sides to the conflict.

Russia hasn’t explained why it was opposing this referral which, considering the situation, was a simple way of saying that sooner or later the criminals would be submitted to justice.

It is very sad, it was a simple proposal and I regret that Russia has chosen a polemical approach to respond to a proposal which was anything but polemical.


Q: M. l’ambassadeur, le Représentant russe a parlé d’un « coup publicitaire » pour ce texte, qu’est-ce que vous répondez à ça ?

Ce n’est pas une réponse mais une question simple. J’aurais espéré autre chose de la part de la Russie et je lui demande : « pourquoi ne voulez-vous pas de ce texte, pourquoi ne voulez-vous pas qu’un jour les criminels des deux côtés soient jugés par la Cour pénale internationale ? ».

France would have preferred to have a more simple text that the one we tabled.

Two caveats actually led to the fact that some countries and some of our friends didn’t cosponsor the text.

There was a first caveat about the financing and the second caveat saying that we don’t cover a Non-State Party-personnel engaging in a peacekeeping operation. That means very clearly, and that’s the reason why I have corrected what the Russian Ambassador said, that if somebody, a terrorist, coming from a Non-State Party is engaged in Syria, he would be covered by the referral to the ICC.

I understand that some countries, some of our friends considered that these caveats were not necessary but they were already in the previous resolutions 1593 and 1970, so we thought that it was the price to pay to have the quasi-unanimity of the Council.

Q: Ambassador, what is the next step? Is the next step to move towards a stronger humanitarian resolution?

Accountability is one issue. The second issue will be the humanitarian access. Our friends from Australia, Luxembourg and Jordan are now working on a draft resolution on the implementation of resolution 2139. We do hope that they will present a text in the near future that will go further that 2139 so it will make a real difference in terms of humanitarian access.

Q: Mr Ambassador, if the bombing from an American plane had taken place, would it have been under the ICC jurisdiction?

Of course. Read the text.

Q: Comme il n’y a pas de perspective de négociation sur le court et moyen terme, quelle est la prochaine étape?

Comme je l’ai dit, il n’y a pas pour le moment de perspective politique. Mr Brahimi l’a dit : le régime ne veut pas négocier. Donc nous allons travailler sur l’accès humanitaire. Nous préparons un texte dans ce sens. Nous ne cherchons pas un véto. Un véto est une preuve d’impuissance du Conseil. Nous arriverons avec un texte raisonnable mais un texte qui fasse une différence. Par exemple, il y a plus de 2 millions de Syriens dans le nord qui n’ont pas accès à l’aide humanitaire. Nous allons essayer de les aider.

Q: Mr Ambassador, this is a moment when you stand back and think : 160 000 people have died, we have a fourth veto from Russia, we have a resignating Special Representative of the international community. Where is this going?

It is very sad. There are times when even diplomats feel sadness. More and more people are going to die. More and more Syrians are going to suffer. We have tried three resolutions which did not even contain sanctions. They only contained threats of sanctions. And they were vetoed by Russia. This resolution which is about accountability for all criminals was also vetoed by Russia. There is a moment when you realize you are powerless in front of barbarians and their supporters.

Q: In your statement, you said France would support an arms embargo but you didn’t think your Russian colleague would. Have you tabled this idea, perhaps in consultations?

This idea has been floating around but Russia has always opposed it. It is “chutzpah” to accuse some countries to send weapons to the opposition when Russia has always been providing weapons to the regime. This idea did not go anywhere because Russia would oppose it. But we have been ready to vote it for a long time.

Q: Mr Ambassador, will this affect France’s decision to sell warships to Russia?

These are two different issues. For Ukraine, we have always implemented EU decisions as they have been decided by the European Union. We will fully implement the decisions of the European Union and we have always said so. If further decisions are made by the European Union, we will implement them.

Thank you.


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