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Syria/United Nations Security Council

Published on February 7, 2012
Explanation of vote by the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

New York, February 4, 2012

Mr President,

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 the 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. Damascus’s horrors are hereditary.

Mr President,

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’s happened in a period of more than 10 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 it was now impossible for her 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.

Within the forum of the General Assembly, 133 states 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 three days ago, the Arab League urged our Council to support its action in the face of the Syrian regime’s deafness, and in the face of the risks to which the entire region is exposed as a result of this deafness. The Secretary-General of the Arab League and the Prime Minister of Qatar argued, right here, in favour of a solution that is the only credible way to achieve a peaceful resolution of the Syrian crisis. A resolution, presented by Morocco, which was widely sponsored both within and outside the Council and was deemed by the majority 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 opposed to 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 regional actors to find a political solution to the crisis.

For 10 months, we’ve been accused of trying to overthrow a regime, of preparing for a military intervention. This is clearly wrong.

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. On this point, and with respect to a military intervention, the draft resolution couldn’t be clearer. How much time have we wasted during these debates? This prevarication falls short of addressing the tragedy the Syrian people are living through.

History will look harshly upon the countries that have prevented the Council from supporting the Arab League’s efforts to implement its plan. By doing so, they unscrupulously 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 share the same fate.

As I said, today is a sad day. But we won’t stop there. We don’t have the right to abandon the Syrian people to their tragic fate. I say to the Syrian people that France will continue to work in all forums, with all partners that share her 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 though 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.

Mr President,

My final word will be for the Syrian people who, with extraordinary courage, have not lost sight of the prospect of their freedom. From this Council, I want to express to them France’s wholehearted support and our determination to tirelessly continue our action. We have met with a first double veto and have come back to the Council. We’re now meeting with a second veto but, in the name of the principles that guide this Council and the action of the United Nations, in the name of our responsibility as a permanent member, it won’t stop us.

Thank you./.

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