I make this statement in my national capacity on the political situation. And will start by thanking Special Envoy Pedersen for your briefing. We commend you, and your team’s, tireless work with the Syrian parties - and the international community - to seek progress towards a political solution and implementation of resolution 2254. Certainly, not an easy task, but a very important one. For Norway it is particularly good to hear that the Syrian Women’s Advisory Board were finally able to meet in-person this week. We have supported their work and inclusion from the beginning, and emphasise again their critical role in the political process.
Even though there have been no new meetings in the constitutional committee since our last Council session, we know that a great deal of work has been done. The two co-chairs, their delegations, as well as the Middle Third, have made efforts to move forward, and prepare for a next meeting. We support Pedersen’s demands for concrete results in the next round of negotiations. And we urge the parties to contribute to the process in good faith, and in a constructive way.
The constitutional process must move forward with the aim of starting the drafting of a reformed constitution for Syria. However, the constitutional process must be part of a larger effort towards a political solution in Syria.
It is not enough that the Syrian parties alone negotiate. Broader international engagement is needed- in particular from those involved on the ground. We support the Special Envoy’s call for a new international format to find a solution.
We need a different dynamic to move away from the current stalemate- which is not benefiting the Syrian people, or the region.
We heard again today how extremely difficult the situation is on the ground. Although it is less violent than in earlier stages of the conflict, the situation remains fragile. Every week there is active fighting and violence.
Resolution 2254 called for a nationwide ceasefire, one that sadly, is still very much needed. We will continue to call for its full implementation.
We remain concerned that ISIL is still able to operate and carry out attacks. And that the issue of arbitrarily detained persons remains unaddressed. The release of those arbitrarily detained, especially women and children, is crucial both for the sake of the Syrian people, and as a confidence building measure.
We call on the Syrian authorities to take steps to address this issue, as a measure of good will, and in line with their international legal obligations.
The importance of an inclusive political process cannot be underestimated. Experience shows that inclusion of those who are the most affected by conflict leads to the best results.
In this respect the inclusion of women in all political talks, and the role of Women Advisory Board remains vital. I would also like to emphasise, and commend, the role of the Middle Third and the Syrian Civil Society Support Room, and their support to the peace process.
Syrian elections have now been announced. According to resolution 2254 elections should be held based on a reformed constitution, agreed between the Syrian parties, and be free and fair for all Syrians. In this respect we would have wanted to see resolution 2254 honoured, and elections be held based on a reformed constitution. It is regrettable that the drafting of a new constitution has not started yet.
President, in closing,
We know that progress on the political track is the key to a sustainable peace in Syria- one with human rights and rule of law at its core. A political solution remains vital to reducing the huge humanitarian needs, to development, to the return of refugees, and to stability.
We - and above all the people of Syria - need to see progress on this file.
It is long overdue.