Tonight, in the midst of the Syrian crisis, the Security Council has finally proven itself worthy of its name. On 21 August, the regime of Bashar al-Assad committed the unacceptable. It killed nearly 1,400 civilians, including hundreds of children, with gas. The use of chemical weapons, so abominable that has been banned for over 100 years, is clear in this instance. All evidence points to the regime. No one can contest it in good faith.
As a result of the threat of strikes, which was not a mere stratagem, we have finally moved forward. We put pressure on the regime and its allies. I recall that although until recently the regime denied the very existence of chemical weapons, in just a few days it has had to radically change its stance. It acknowledged the existence of chemical weapons and accepted their destruction. France, like other States, especially the United States of America, has assumed its responsibilities. We believe that our resolve has paid off.
Resolution 2118 (2013), which we have just adopted, meets the three requirements that President Hollande and I put forward early this week, which may go down in history, be it with respect to Syria or Iran, as the international week beginning the end of chemical weapons. The resolution identifies the use of chemical weapons as a threat to international peace and security. The Security Council can therefore act on this issue at any time in the future and will be the guarantor of chemical disarmament. The resolution clearly states that those responsible for such crimes must be held accountable for their actions and brought to justice. It also provides — as our Russian and American colleagues agreed in Geneva and worked a great deal to achieve — that in case of the non-compliance of the Syrian regime in Damascus, measures will be taken under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations.
The resolution is not our final goal, but only the first stage. Unfortunately, one cannot simply believe the statements of a regime that even until recently denied even possessing such weapons. The United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons should immediately deploy their joint mission. The timetable set out in the decision adopted today in The Hague must be enforced. Syria’s cooperation must be unconditional and fully transparent. The Security Council, which will be informed regularly, will be the judge of Syria’s commitment. It will, if necessary, impose measures under Chapter VII of the Charter to ensure that the objective is achieved. In short, it is not enough that we adopted the resolution; we must now implement it. France, like all other Council members, will see to that.
Regardless of the positive aspects of the resolution, the humanitarian catastrophe and repression tragically continue in Syria. Our responsibility commands us to act to end them. France wishes to take advantage of the long-sought unity of the Council to advance the political process, which is the only way to put an end to the fighting and restore peace in Syria. We need to prepare the “Geneva II” conference, within the framework defined by the Geneva communiqué (S/2012/523, annex), which, as others have noted provides for the transfer of all executive powers to a transitional body. Along with the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy, whom I congratulate and thank for their work, the five permanent members of the Security Council bear a particular responsibility to that end, as they have demonstrated on the chemical weapons issue.
Yesterday, I chaired a meeting, attended by the representatives of a great many States, with the President of the Syrian National Coalition, Mr. Al-Jarba. He confirmed that he is ready to send a delegation to negotiate in the Geneva II process. The supporters of the Syrian regime in Damascus must, in turn, assure us that they will make a similar commitment. I know that the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy will do their all to move quickly in that direction, as I indicated at the recent meeting of the five permanent members, which yielded positive results and a date for Geneva II. France will assuredly support these efforts.
We know that no one resolution, useful as it may be, will save Syria. That is why the Security Council must shoulder its responsibilities to the end. Over the next few weeks, we must focus on the Syrian people and their martyrdom, which must come to an end as soon as possible. That will be France’s firm and consistent position in full support for peace.
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